Week 2

Session 2

Guiding Question

  • How can we detect life on Mars using a robot?


  • What does a successful bridge model look like?


  • Students will demonstrate the functions of different shapes and structures of a bridge.

CT Components


  • Based on the previous knowledge of bridges, students will develop designs for bridges


  • Students will take notes and make a presentation to the group/class

Introduction to K'nex Set

30 minutes

A teacher opens the session, “Next week, we will be creating our own bridges using these Knex pieces. Has anyone ever used these before? Let’s take a look at how one boy used these pieces to create a life-size bridge. Our bridges won’t be quite this big, but this video might give you some ideas on how to begin your bridge designs today". Teacher proceeds to show this video highlighting a large Knex bridge. After the video, the teacher continues to let the students explore the Knex set and get familiar with different parts. The students are encouraged to build a simple bridge (the Chesapeake Bridge) if time permits, as a whole group with each student, or pairs of students working on different parts.

Demonstration on Bridge Building

30 minutes

After students played with Knex set/parts, as a group, the students review Reader 5: Making Strong Structures. Suggested approaches: The teacher can ask for volunteers to read some sections out loud, as the other students follow along. Or divide students into a group of two or three to examine a certain section or shape in Reader 5. For each “Figure”, the student/group demonstrates, with teacher facilitation as needed, by modeling the design in the figure either using Knex pieces (depending on the Figure) or paper. Students comment on the strengths and weaknesses of these design. Reader 5 has instructions for both the teacher and the students on how to approach each specific situation. As each Figure is demonstrated, example questions can be asked such as: How do you think the paper will hold up to stress? Why is it important that bridges hold up under stressful conditions? and What will happen if they are weak? PAUSEs to allow the students time to answer and allow students to share their ideas.

After the students completed the demonstration with Reader 5, direct students to Skill Builder Challenge 5C (pp. 96-98) to investigate the cute figure (highlighted). Students can work in small groups of 2 to 3.


End of Session Reflection and Debriefing

5-10 minutes

Teacher briefly explains the computational thinking (CT) skill embedded in the Problem Solving Process Diagram. Using the problem solving process diagram, the teacher will ask students to identify what kind of problem solving skills/process/computational thinking they used in this session and explain how they used it. The following are some sample questions that can guide the debrief.

  • What did I learn today?

  • What problem solving skills/processes or CT components in this diagram did I use today?

  • How did I use the problem solving skills/processes/CT components?