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Getting Started Select Design Task Learn About Design

National Science Education Standards

In 1996, the National Science Education Standards included technological design in its list of recommended content standards. It was a bold move that led to the creation of a new brand of design task for science classes that had met of the following criteria:

Explore the relationship between science and technology:

  • The design tasks should reinforce science concepts that the student is already familiar with.
    Many design activities can be done using "craft skills" only, with no reference to science or technology concepts. New tasks need stronger references to big ideas in these topics.
  • Well-defined and based on immediately familiar contexts to them, and involve at most 1-2 science concepts.
    Some of the most constrained design tasks find their way into the science classrooms -- more open-ended tasks are more challenging for teachers to support, and are found in pre-engineering and tech ed settings.

Identify Appropriate Problems for Technological Design:

  • Identifying a specific need
    Getting designers to describe the need they aim to meet helps when testing prototypes.
  • Importance of talking to potential users
    Gathering data on user help in identifying the need the design aims to meet, but also brings in a social dimension not often found in science-class-based design tasks.
  • Appreciate how different cultural backgrounds and beliefs can affect the criteria of the product
    This is another social dimension that design tasks can raise (e.g., cultural differences can influence potential solutions to the designing of a disaster-survival kit for different Third World countries).

Design a Solution or Product

  • Compare different proposals - The Product Comparison is one context for doing this, as is Prioritize/Select Ideas and doing Fair-Test Experiments.
  • Consider criteria and constraints - The cornerstone of the Design Brief is its description of desired design features and the limits (cost, size) to which solutions must adhere.
  • Communicate ideas through drawings and models - Recent research shows that designers can get many ideas across with objects, models and drawings that they have difficulty describing solely with words.

Implement a Proposed Design

  • Students should organize materials
  • Plan their work
  • Make use of group collaboration
  • Choose appropriate tools
  • Choose appropriate measurement methods to ensure accuracy

Evaluate Completed Technological Designs or Products

  • Use relevant criteria to evaluate whether solution fulfills its original purpose
  • Suggest improvements and modifications to their own products

Communicate the Process of Technological Design

  • Review any piece of work and identify which stage of the design process that it falls under

Understanding About Science and Technology

  • Contrast and compare aspects of science and technology
    • Technology seeks to address a human problem or need
    • Science proposes explanations for phenomena that occur in nature
  • Contributions to science and technology made by people of different cultures
  • Science and technology are have a reciprocal relationship: science drives technology as it creates a need for more sophisticated instruments, and technology furthers science by allowing scientists to make observations that were previously impossible
  • Perfectly designed solutions do not exist
  • Technological design always faces constraints – safety, environment, material properties, and aesthetics
  • Technology can have unintended and unpredictable consequences

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