I will use Google Earth to show my students where North Carolina is, and then hold up a single Pringle chip. I will then challenge them to build a package that will allow the chip to be sent through the mail to NC, and arrive intact. They usually gasp!
2 Direct Instruction
Together, the students and I will examine lots of different containers, boxes, jars etc. We'll discuss the materials they are made from, the shape, and why these work well for the packaging of a particular item. At this point, I will also share the exact rules of the challenge. No pre-made items may be used, all recycled materials from home. Less mass & volume = higher score. Often the post office won't deliver if package is smaller than 3x5, something for them to keep in mind. The kids will take notes in their journals.
3 Guided practice
Now, students will be given a partner, they'll brainstorm ideas, materials, shapes etc. They will also sketch out ideas in their journals. Once they have formulated a couple different plans/ideas, they will go to their wikispaces page to chronicle the project. Here they will share their beginning ideas for designs and update the page as the project progresses. Wikispaces allows me to quickly see that all teams are making progress and make comments. We'll focus on sharing details and explaining in this narrative writing.
4 Independent Practice
During this phase of the project, students will be working with their partner to design a package for their Pringle. They will have used their design notes and sketches to decide and agree upon which design and materials to use. They will have brought in said materials from home. Remember, nothing pre-made. I supply students with tape, glue, paper and scissors. They partnerships work away from other groups, so that each group is making their own decisions and not copying other group's work. Students must also determine the mass and volume of their package for later use in scoring.
They will also update their Wikispaces page with their progress and photos of the team in action, and final package.
5 Wrap up
At this point, the packages have been sent and received by the respective schools. We will use Skype to connect with our partner class in NC. We will be able to watch one another open the packages in real time, and really connect with the other class. The kids love seeing their packages being opened, and they also love the excitement of opening another group's package. I'm hoping to record the Skype session this's year so that it can be posted to our class webpage, for later viewing.
Last but not least, we score the packages. The kids use formulas that incorporate the intactness, mass and volume to come up with a score. These scores are entered into a Google Soreadhseet. The partner class also uses this sheet to enter their scores, which makes it easy to compare scores.
Finally, my students update their Wikispaces pages one last time, detailing the experience, scoring, Skyping etc. we then spend time reading one another's pages and making comments. This is good reflection time for my class, and they usually comment in how much they've learned and accomplished!