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MOVIE 1:   2 minutes 43 seconds

Assessing Explanations

One key goal of using design activities is to have students make design decisions in an informed, versus haphazard or unconscious, way. "Informed designing" means knowing and applying the science and engineering ideas related to the object to make predictions and to make credible design decisions.

Students can do design challenges solely with unarticulated craft knowledge and still come up with top performing products. Explanations need to be included in what students make when designing. Getting them to explain their design decisions can reveal prior knowledge that you may want to address in class lessons or team meetings.

This movie focuses on the tech ed student who became the controversial winner of Goldman's model parachute competition (see Day 5 - Final Contest and Day 6 - Looking vs. Seeing). Listen especially to his explanations for design choices. When does he seem to show real understanding, and when not? When does he most and least seem to be an "informed designer"? Do you notice contradictions between what he says and does? Did he always follow his teacher's advice? How would you talk to him about his work and what goals would you set for his future development?

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