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MOVIE 1:  3 Minutes 46 Seconds

Model Crane Design Challenge

The Model Crane design activity comes from the Design It! After-School Design Curriculum developed by Bernie Zubrowski and others at Educational Development Centers (EDC) in Newton, MA. The curriculum is mainly for late-primary-grade students, but can be used with students of other ages as well.

The movies in this section of DITC show a workshop that Bernie and others at EDC ran in January 2003, mostly for after-school educators. This Model Crane task begins by students talking about what they know about cranes, and then receiving a box of materials, from which they will make a motorized crane that lifts as many nails placed in a plastic cup as possible (MOVIE 1).

Bernie's approach in his design-based curriculum has students doing an extended exploration phase focused on the materials, where they attempt to build a device without plans. Learning from other groups is encouraged. Each member of a design team is given certain roles to perform -- this more structured approach to doing effective group work seems to work well with younger students. Suggested designs are given to teams later in the activity. Students incorporate these plans into their own to make the best designs they can.

DITC's Model Crane section holds the following:

  •  Introducing Crane Task  Bernie Zubrowski presents the Model Crane task to teachers attending his workshop, and details the roles that teachers-as-designers will play in their groups.
  •  Teachers Crane Design  Teachers discuss and build their first crane prototypes.
  •  Crane Presentations  Teachers report about their homework in to other groups in a class-wide presentation.
  •  Reflecting On Crane Designs  In a wrap-up discussion, groups describe their design decisions and reasoning behind them. Bernie reflects on pedagogical issues related to teaching with Model Crane and Design It!

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