Science Education Department (SED)
 DESIGNS Challenge Criteria

To help students get at the scientific concepts underlying a design, each DESIGNS challenge REINFORCES:

Repeatable: The test method for a design is accurate. A device will exhibit the same result on multiple trials.

Explicit: Only one performance parameter is measured in each challenge. This format makes plain the goal of each challenge.

Iterative: The range of potential improvement in the performance of a device covers at least one order of magnitude. Such a large range helps to ensure that any change measured is due to a design modification and not to an undetected test error, and that sequential modification is possible.

Nontechnical: Each challenge starts with a basic design that any student can successfully make and test in one class period. This deliberately crude device helps to focus student improvement efforts.

Focused: There is only one test area in the classroom. This arrangement helps to direct the attention of all students to the performance of each device, thereby enhancing the dissemination of ideas throughout the class.

Objective: All design testing is against nature, not against other designs or based on teacher evaluation. A test result unequivocally defines a device's performance.

Replicable: Test methods are usually nondestructive. Where destructive testing is necessary, the test procedure includes a way by which the mode of failure can be accurately determined and the failed design reliably replicated for further improvement.

Concise: The number of design variables that a student can manipulate is restricted. The limiting of variables allows the student to concentrate more on how each variable affects device performance.

Economical: Design materials are inexpensive, common items that a teacher can buy at a local hardware store, drug store, supermarket, or stationery/office supply store.

Simple: The least able student can make and test one design modification within one class period (about 40 minutes).

For more information, please contact: Kendall/Hunt, 1-800-542-6657

DESIGNS Project Page

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