Lesson 4
Part 2

A Long Way Down: Designing Parachutes

Designing a Parachute (1) / Grade 4 / Fall River, MA

EiE - A Long Way Down: Designing Parachutes, L4 Part 1

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The EIE Curriculum

Students apply their knowledge of air resistance and aerospace engineering as they imagine, plan, create, test, and improve their own parachutes. 

Reflection Questions

How do you see Jean emphasizing the math embedded in this lesson?

Jean models many of the math skills students will need as she facilitates a whole-group discussion before students begin working in small groups.

  • Before students begin testing, Jean does a thorough example of the packing score in front of the class, pointing out the math terms (like radius and diameter) and modeling skills (measurement, multiplication) that students will need to use. (2:45)
  • Jean works with the class to calculate an example packing score and then guides them to look to the scale in their Engineering Journals to determine whether the example parachute is mission ready. She then gives an example of a larger packing score and asks them to use the same scale to determine if the larger score is mission ready. (4:40)
  • Jean asks students to give suggestions for what they could change if their parachute was not mission ready, which requires students to think about how manipulating numbers that are included in the packing score formula will affect the result. (5:30)

What types of questions do you see Jean asking as she interacts with groups before they plan?

Jean guides students to think deeply about choices they are making by asking students to justify their thoughts on materials or refer to previous findings.

  • Jean checks in again with groups on their packing score, asking them how they might change the sizes of some variables to ensure that their design is mission ready. (8:30)
  • Jean asks students to remember how certain materials performed in past testing. In one case, when a student comments that a material is not a good choice because it is delicate and this was not supported by past data, Jean challenges the student to think more about her ideas. (8:50)