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Getting Started Select Design Task Learn About Design
MOVIE 1:  9 minute 18 seconds
Introduction to Learning By Design™

Often, those who write the textbooks are completely invisible and unknown to the teachers who use them year in and year out. This interview is with Janet Kolodner, Principal Investigator and driving force behind the NSF-sponsored design-based middle-school science curriculum called Learning By Design. Visit the LBD website at http://www.cc.gatech.edu/projects/lbd/home.html.

Learning By Design™ has Launcher units to introduce students to the culture of doing science-oriented design work. It's content units include Vehicles In Motion, Machines That Help, and Tunneling Across Georgia. LBD™ supports learning science by offering motivating tasks like design, where the need for doing investigations to inform design decisions is central, and the temporary failure of a design promotes a need to know. Students do experiments to develop rules-of-thumb that link students' design work with science and engineering laws and principles.

The Learning By Design curriculum encourages students to vary some design features and not others. LBD uses constrained design tasks so that students can focus on design decisions that are related to the concepts being targeted by the curriculum, and so that students don't get overwhelmed with making too many choices. In the end, as teacher, you choose to follow their recommendations or not. For instance, in LBD, students are given paper coffee filters for making the canopy -- students do not choose what materials to use for their chutes. A partially constrained variable in LBD's parachute task is the load -- students use choose how many washers they will use, but they do not choose washers or some other object as a load.

Kolodner's major research has been around thinking and learning through examples or "cases," or she calls "case-based reasoning". Such reasoning is helpful when working on design challenges. Collaboration is supported through a number of LBD Rituals. These include students regularly share ideas and data with others and recording them in Design Diaries.

Documents and Handouts
You can view and print out copies of the LBD™ student and teacher materials related to the Model Parachute task by opening the Acrobat documents below.
  Apollo 13 Student Book (9 pages) is the booklet that introduces students to Design Challenges and ways to make products that meet given design criteria and constraints.
  LBD™ Design Diary (9 pages) Students use these single-page sheets to do some of the LBD™ rituals.
  LBD™ Process (18 pages) These pages describe LBD rituals, including Gallery Walks and Pin-Up Sessions, dealing with constraints, and developing design rules-of-thumb that link science concepts and design ideas.
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