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Getting Started Select Design Task Learn About Design
MOVIE 1:   5 minutes 55 seconds
Introduction to Challenges in Physical Science

The Challenges In Physical Science series, developed by Dr Phil Sadler and others at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is composed of materials that can supplement an existing middle-school science curriculum. Its activities were designed by teachers and researchers to have strong links to the Content Standards found in the National Science Education Standards.

The curriculum's pedagogy emphasizes iterative design, with students doing one design version after an another quickly. The special aim of CIPS is that each design change results in a measurable and significant improvement in product performance. Students start a design task with initial plans for a barely functioning solution -- a bad prototype design for which the teacher takes credit. Students build and test it, and then improve upon it iteration by iteration. With this approach, students find success early and throughout their work.

In MOVIE 1, Phil Sadler talks about how students do this work, and the role measurement plays in giving students feedback about their products. Here are some questions to keep in mind while reviewing the movie:
1. What are some advantages of students doing many design iterations quickly? Disadvantages?
2. How might giving initial design plans help beginning designers? Why does CIPS give students prototype design plans work only poorly?
3. What constraints are purposely built into these tasks? Do you think these tasks more or less open-ended than other design-oriented curricula you have seen?

Documents and Handouts
You can print out a copy of the Students Materials for the "Single-Load Bridge" challenge by clicking below. Get other CIPS materials through its publisher Kendall-Hunt.
   Single-Load Bridge (4-page) - Build a very simple model of a bridge from a single sheet of paper.

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