# Engineering Design Challenge

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1 Engineering Design Challenge Project Title: Project Source: Project Submitter: Oil Spill Solution STEM Improvement Lesson Development Team Grade Level/Subject: Science, Grade Six, 4th Quarter Time Needed: Two to three 45 minute classes Engineering Challenge Students will develop solutions for cleaning up an oil spill that occurred in a local estuary, Mobile Bay. Lesson Description The "Oil Spill Solution" lesson explores how environmental engineers might approach solving the problem of an oil spill. Students work as teams of "engineers" to develop a system to contain and then remove oil from a classroom "spill." Teams decide on which materials they will use and how they will isolate the oil from the water. They then execute their plan with everyday materials, evaluate their results, observe the results of other student "engineering" teams, and present findings to the class. Engineering Connection Engineers have a professional ethical responsibility to protect the environment for future generations. When an environmental accident occurs, such as an oil spill, engineers will use their knowledge and experience to design effective cleanup methods and minimize the impact of the spill. This must all be done in the most cost-effective manner possible. 1

2 Learning Objectives: Students will gain skills and understanding in The engineering design process Teamwork Biodiversity Data analysis Educational Content Standards: Alabama Mathematics: E. Apply data analysis and probability content to solve a real world and mathematical problem involving biodiversity 9. Interpret information from graphs. Alabama Science: 2. Conduct a systematic approach to creative problem solving and finding way to meet society s needs 2.3. Apply mathematical reasoning and knowledge of earth and space science and teamwork to solve technological problems Materials required: Team materials: Day 1 Each team needs the following: Aluminum pan 300 ml of water 10 ml of colored oil (vegetable oil mixed with an oil-based food coloring) Quart-sized Ziploc bag containing the following items: o ¼ of a small sponge o 1 piece of paper towel o 2 feet of twine o 10 cotton swabs o 6 large cotton balls 2

3 o straw o 1 small piece of WOW towel o 2 coffee filters o 1 plastic spoon Class Materials: Day 1 Large container that the students can dump their oil and water mixture into at the end of class. Remember not to dispose of this mixture down the drain. You may seal it and throw it away or just empty the mixture in the grass away from the building. We found that the amount of vegetable oil used for this activity would not harm the environment. Paper towels for spills and clean-up Digital camera or video camera (Optional) Copies of the following handouts for each team: o Oil Spill Solutions Sketch o Oil Spill Rating Sheet Day 2 Material Team materials Day 2 Metric ruler Map of Mobile Bay Map of Mobile Bay with designated area outlined Calculator Copies of the following handout for each pair of students: o Perimeter and Area 3

4 Oil Spill Solution Sixth Grade Science, 4 th Quarter Day 1 Note: Prior to this day, you may ask students to read the handout titled, Student Resource. ENGAGE: (15 minutes) Display Slide 3 of the PowerPoint. Watch the Animoto video that shows pictures from the recent BP oil spill on the Gulf Coast. If the video doesn t play from the PowerPoint, click the link and play it from the Internet. Show Slide 4. Discuss how an oil spill might affect an estuary, where thousands of species of birds, mammals, fish, and other wildlife live. Show Slide 5 and discuss the following questions: Have you ever cleaned up another spill or mess before? What did you do and use to clean the spill or mess up? Do you think those methods might work when cleaning up an oil spill in an estuary? Why or why not? Define the problem: Show Slide 8 and tell students that this is their challenge: You are a part of a team of engineers who have been given the challenge of containing and cleaning up an oil spill that has occurred in our local estuary, the Mobile Bay. 4

5 Research the problem: Show Slide 7. Ask the students to take 3 minutes to discuss with their team any questions they might need to ask before they begin this challenge. You may want to list the questions on the board as the students ask them. Teachers, you are looking for the students to ask questions like the following: o What materials are available for us to use? o How much of the materials can we use? o How large is the oil spill? o Do we have to consider the wildlife when containing and cleaning up an oil spill? o What is the difference between containing and cleaning up an oil spill? Show Slide 8. After the students have asked their questions, show them the materials that will be available to them. o ¼ of a small sponge o 1 piece of paper towel o 2 feet of twine o 10 cotton swabs o 6 large cotton balls o 1 straw o 1 small piece of WOW towel o 2 coffee filters o 1 plastic spoon Ask the students if they have any questions about any of the items that are available to them. Show Slide 9. Let them know that they will be rating their containment and clean-up plan on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the least effective and 5 being the most effective. 5

6 EXPLORE: (20 min.) Divide the class into teams of 3 or 4. Teams of three would be ideal. Give each team a copy of the Oil Spill Solutions Sketch handout. Ask them to examine the available materials for containing and cleaning up their oil and come up with a plan. Remind them to listen actively to other s ideas, and to give everyone a chance to offer ideas. Try to develop a plan that all team members can buy in to, even if it is not their favorite plan. Develop solutions The students will meet as a team and discuss for a few minutes how they would contain and clean-up an oil spill in an estuary. Please remind them that they do not need to use all of the materials provided, but only the ones that they believe will be effective. Choose the best solution From their discussion, the students will need to choose what they believe is their best idea to test. They must agree on the same approach as a team. Create a model or prototype The students will draw a sketch of their containment and clean-up design. Please make sure that they indicate the type and amount of materials they plan to use. Test the model or prototype The students will test their design for oil containment and clean-up. The procedures for testing their model or prototype are on Slide Pour 300 ml of water into the aluminum pan. 2. Next, slowly pour the 10 ml of colored oil into the center of the aluminum pan. Be careful not to spill the water and/or the oil. Monitor students as they test their containment and clean-up design with the oil in the pan. 6

7 EVALUATE and WRAP UP: (10 min) Student self-assessment: Give each team a copy of the Oil Spill Rating Sheet. The students will evaluate their design using the scale that ranges from 1 5, with 1 being the least effective and 5 being very effective. The students must write down why they gave their design the rating. Wrap Up: Have the students clean up their area. The following is a suggested task list: (Show Slide 11 if you use this task list.) 1. Select one person in your group to pour the oil and water mixture into the designated container. 2. Put the materials you did not use back into the Ziploc bag and seal it. 3. Throw away the materials you did use into the nearest garbage can. 4. Make sure there is no oil or water left at your stations. Day 2 EXPLAIN: Communicate Results (20 min) Each group will present their design to the class. Have materials available so that the students can demonstrate their design. Also, the students will need to tell the class the rating they gave their design and why they assigned that rating to the design. 7

8 Allow the rest of the class to ask the group questions about their design and clean-up. EXTEND: (5 min) Re-design/Improve Have each group quickly sketch a re-design and explain why they would make those changes to their original design. EXPLORE: (10 min) Distribute the Perimeter and Area handouts. Show Slide 13. Suggest team members work in pairs to find the perimeter and area of the container they used the day before. They will measure the length and width of the container in centimeters. The students will find the approximate perimeter and area of the Mobile Bay using the gridded map. Show Slide 14. The students will compare the area of the pan with the area of Mobile Bay and discuss the amount of materials that they think would be needed to clean the Mobile Bay of an oil spill. EXTEND: Show Slide 16. Discuss the impact of an oil spill on the environment, engineering trade-offs, and actual clean-up methods. (See attached Student Resource sheet.) EVALUATE: Teacher evaluation Teacher will observe the students and question them as they are completing each step of the activity. Student reflection (Optional) Show Slide 17. Students will complete the Student Reflection Sheet for homework and turn in for teacher evaluation. 8

9 Name Date Period Oil Spill Solutions Sketch Sketch your design for oil spill containment and clean-up below. List the type and amount of the materials you will use in your design. 9

10 Oil Spill Rating Sheet As a team, discuss and rate the effectiveness of your oil spill containment and clean-up plan Not Effective Very Effective Explain why your group gave your design the above rating. Sketch your re-design for oil spill containment and clean-up below. Briefly explain why your group would make the above changes. Use the back of this handout, if needed. 10

11 Perimeter and Area Name Date Period Length of container cm Width of container cm Calculate the perimeter of container cm Show work below. Calculate the area of container cm 2 Show work below. Calculate the perimeter of designated area on the map: km Show work below. Calculate the area of designated area on map: km 2 This area represents the area that contains the oil spill NOT the oil. Show work below. Think about the amount of materials your group used to contain and clean-up your model oil spill. How much would you need to clean up the designated area on the map? Explain. (For your information, 1km 2 = 10,000,000,000 cm 2 ) 11

12 Student Reflection Sheet 1. Did you succeed in removing all the oil from the oil spill? What rating did your team give your design? Name Date Period 2. If your system was not as successful as you planned, what do you think went wrong? 3. Describe a system another group designed that you thought worked well. What would you do differently to improve their system? 4. How did your decisions on engineering trade-offs differ from that team? What goals or priorities for your system did you put above others? 5. Did you decide to revise your plan while actually doing the containment or clean-up? Why? How? 6. Why might a team of environmental engineers change their planned approach to an oil spill clean-up once they arrived on the site? Do you think it is common that professionals change their plans while on the job? 12

13 Day 1 Materials List Each team needs the following: Class Materials Aluminum pan 300 ml of water 10 ml of colored oil (vegetable oil mixed with an oil-based food coloring) Quart-sized Ziploc bag containing the following items: o ¼ of a small sponge o 1 piece of paper towel o 2 feet of twine o 10 cotton swabs o 6 large cotton balls o Some straw o 1 small piece of WOW towel o 2 coffee filters o 1 plastic spoon Large container that the students can dump their oil and water mixture into at the end of class. Remember not to dispose of this mixture down the drain. You may seal it and try it away or just empty the mixture in the grass away from the building. We found that the amount of vegetable oil used for this activity would not harm the environment. Paper towels for spills and clean-up Digital camera or video camera (Optional) Handouts that go with this day s activities. Day 2 Materials List Rulers Maps of Mobile Bay with designated area outlined Calculators Handouts that go with this day s activities. 13

14 Teacher Tips 1. Have the students read the article Oil Spill Solutions the night before for homework so they can have some background knowledge. 2. Have the students already divided into groups of 3 or 4 the day before beginning this lesson so that you all will be ready to begin when the class starts. 3. A plastic bag of materials for each group already prepared ahead of time. If there are materials left over, save them for next year. This will save a lot of time on the day of the activity. 4. If you have access to a digital camera, have each group take a before and after picture of their oil spill and the materials they used. They can use these pictures during their class presentations. 5. We found that the amount of oil used for the day was not significant and was mixed with a lot of water. Therefore, you can pour the vegetable oil and water mixture outside in the grass as far away from your building as you can. 14

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