We are going to take the concepts that we learned last year in Technology class to the next level in sixth grade. We begin by learning about the design loop, which is a series of steps that are used to efficiently solve problems.
For the remainder of the cycle we complete a unit called Solar Power Vehicles. We pretend that we have been hired by a car company to design a solar powered vehicle. We use the steps of the design loop throughout the project. As part of our research, we learn about the various renewable energy sources. We discuss why it is important for us to develop and implement them. Then, we focus on solar power and learn how it is collected and how it can be used.
Our next focus is lab safety. I distribute a Lab Safety Contract to all students including my 10 lab safety rules. Students must sign this document promising to follow the rules and have their parents sign it, too. We also learn how to use the soldering iron and the exacto knife. Before students are allowed to use them, they must pass a safety quiz about the tools.
We spend a few class periods preparing plans for the vehicles, and after plans have been approved by the instructor, we spend several days building the vehicle that we designed. We finish by testing it on the solar power track and evaluating how well it met the design specifications.