Lesson 2

A Long Way Down: Designing Parachutes

Think Like an Aerospace Engineer / Grade 3 / Stillwater, MN

EiE - A Long Way Down: Designing Parachutes, L2


The EIE Curriculum

Students use information about the temperature, atmosphere, and surface of a planet to imagine how a spacecraft traveling to that planet might be designed. 

Reflection Questions

Where do you see evidence that Corrie’s students have had training in the norms and expectations for classroom discourse?

Corrie’s students seem to be familiar with Accountable Talk strategies and are thoughtful and responsive when discussing ideas with peers.

  • When Matthew answers Corrie’s question about what an aerospace engineer does, he shares the connections he is making between what he knows about the definitions of words and what he learned in the storybook. (0:56)
  • Corrie’s students justify and build upon each other’s ideas as they negotiate the shape of the spacecraft they are designing. (4:58)

Trying to foster creativity in her students, how does Corrie frame the role of the imagination in spacecraft design?

Rather than discussing whether their spacecraft designs would actually work, Corrie focuses on the important role of imagination and perseverance in engineering. This sets her students up for the Imagine step of the design challenge.

  • Corrie refers to some of the ideas of engineers as “crazy and outrageous.” (6:06)
  • Corrie reminds students that many people did not have faith in the imaginative idea to send a spacecraft to the moon. (6:26)
  • She points out that many ideas that are very common now (like flight) are due to people who “imagine possibilities and are brave enough to take that step.” (6:28)