WhiteBox Learning works best when woven in with an existing curriculum. It's an engaging solution to the science and engineering performance expectations from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Middle school teachers who teach integrated science will love the way the KidWind application blends together physical and earth science concepts along with engineering practices. The Teaching Aids section provides details for each application, including a three-week lesson plan.
Wonderful questions are embedded in the Knowledge at Work research section. Unfortunately, they are immediately followed by explanations without giving students a chance to figure it out first. Teachers can use these as driving questions prior to beginning research work for the day. For example, a teacher could project a picture of a wind turbine blade and ask, "Why did the engineer design this blade to be smaller at the tip?" Give the class time to discuss their ideas and then begin their Blade Span and Chord research lesson.Continue reading Show less
WhiteBox Learning blends digital and hands-on experiences while kids explore STEM applications. Students engage in engineering challenges such as building gliders, wind turbines, or "green" cars within a predetermined set of constraints. Then they engage in an engineering design process as they research, design, analyze, simulate, and build or 3D-print their models. The Teacher Control Center allows teachers to monitor progress and provide feedback throughout the process.
Each challenge begins with a research section to learn the specific content necessary, such as learning about wind before building wind turbines. This is followed by an engineering component, where student adjust design specifications and see the results in a 3D CAD model. Then students submit their model, competing virtually against their classmates or students from around the world to see who gets the best outputs. After modifying their designs, students finally can build their design using traditional modeling materials or print it out using a 3D printer.
WhiteBox Learning stands out because it provides tools for students to actually build and use computer models to test their designs. They use the simple CAD simulation tools to design, test, and improve a model before actually building it. WhiteBox Learning emphasizes the true nature of science engineering; the process isn't linear, giving kids opportunities to move back and forth revising their thinking in light of new tests or evidence.
For each application, students are guided through the engineering design process. Throughout the modules, students take short online background quizzes to check their understanding. Many of the background quizzes require students to analyze the text and graphs provided to answer the questions. For example, students use a slider simulation to determine how blade pitch affects RPM and torque. This is a great opportunity for students to figure out patterns in evidence. Unfortunately, the text prior to the Blade Pitch lesson explains the pattern, giving away the mystery.
Key Standards Supported
Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.
Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.
Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.
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