Lesson Plans

THE CHALLENGE: Paper Table

Content: Structures, Collaboration
Theme: Green

Engineers design most of the things in our world—the buildings, toys, roads, electronic devices, cars, etc. They figure out the best materials to use and how to turn them into the things we use every day.

In this hands—on challenge, students consider ways to strengthen a weak material—paper—and use it to make a sturdy paper table. In the process, they see how changing a material's shape affects its strength and experiment with how supports reinforce a structure. Students also conduct a peer review of the prototypes and, following the design process, revise, test, and improve their tables.

IN CLASS

As they build a table with newspaper, students learn strategies for making a weak material stronger, while also exploring structures and supports. And just before class breaks, students are forced to relinquish their design to another's hands &mdash in hopes that collaboration will improve their design!

AT HOME

During this "At Home" challenge, kids will determine what elements of the existing paper table design will stay and which will be revised and improved.

CLASSROOM WRAP-UP

After discussing the pros and cons of soliciting others' ideas, the final paper tables will be displayed for a peer review in which the merits and weaknesses of each design are discussed. Then, kids have a chance to see how contestants on Design Squad Nation handled a similar challenge.