SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING OF THE 2014 OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES: Shaun White & Engineering the Half Pipe  Inquiry Guide (Grades 712)
Objective:
Students will investigate questions and engineering design problems about centripetal acceleration and the optimal design of snowboarder models for performing tricks.
Introduction Notes:
Science AND ENGINEERING OF THE 2014 OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES
Shaun White & Engineering the Halfpipe
INQUIRY GUIDE for HANDSON INVESTIGATIONS
Middle School Focus / Adaptable for Grades 7–12
Lesson plans produced by the National Science Teachers Association.
Video produced by NBC Learn in collaboration with the National Science Foundation.
Background and Planning Information............................................................................................ 2
About the Video............................................................................................................................ 2
Video Timeline .............................................................................................................................. 2
Next Generation Science Standards................................................................................................ 2
Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy................................................... 3
Facilitate SCIENCE Inquiry.............................................................................................................. 3
Explore Understanding................................................................................................................... 3
Ask Beginning Questions................................................................................................................ 4
Design Investigations..................................................................................................................... 4
Possible Materials.............................................................................................................. 4
Open Choice Approach....................................................................................................... 4
Focused Approach............................................................................................................. 6
Adapt for High School......................................................................................................... 8
Make a Claim Backed by Evidence................................................................................................... 8
Present and Compare Findings....................................................................................................... 8
Reflect on Learning........................................................................................................................ 9
Inquiry Assessment........................................................................................................................ 9
Facilitate ENGINEERING DESIGN Inquiry....................................................................................... 10
Explore Understanding................................................................................................................. 10
Identify Problems......................................................................................................................... 10
Design Investigations.................................................................................................................... 10
Possible Materials............................................................................................................ 10
Open Choice Approach..................................................................................................... 11
Focused Approach............................................................................................................ 12
Make a Claim Backed by Evidence................................................................................................. 13
Present and Compare Findings..................................................................................................... 13
Reflect and Redesign.................................................................................................................... 14
Inquiry Assessment...................................................................................................................... 14
Copy Masters .............................................................................................................................. 15
Open Choice SCIENCE Inquiry Guide for Students.......................................................................... 15
Focused SCIENCE Inquiry Guide for Students................................................................................ 16
Open Choice ENGINEERING DESIGN Inquiry Guide for Students.................................................... 18
Focused ENGINEERING DESIGN Inquiry Guide for Students........................................................... 19
Assessment Rubric for Inquiry Investigations................................................................................ 21
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Background and Planning
About the Video
Shaun White & Engineering the Halfpipe discusses the challenges of designing and engineering the halfpipe, a snowboarding venue, which is roughly the bottom half of a sloping cylinder. Featured are Shaun White, a 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics gold medalist in the halfpipe event, and Brianno Coller, a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Northern Illinois University. In the halfpipe event, athletes gain kinetic energy and therefore speed as they lose gravitational potential energy while going downhill. They then slide up the sides of the cylinder, vaulting into the air to do various twists and flips.
Video Timeline
0:00 0:14 Series opening
0:15 1:20 Introducing White
1:21 1:37 Discussing the importance of height
1:38 2:27 Introducing Coller who discusses why height is so important
2:28 2:50 Explaining the relationship of velocity and centripetal acceleration
2:51 3:28 Describing the impact of centripetal acceleration on White
3:29: 3:56 Describing how White could get twice as much air
3:57 4:47 Explaining how engineers lessen the force of centripetal acceleration
4:48 5:11 Summary
5:12 5:23 Closing credits
Language Support: To aid those with limited English proficiency or others who need help focusing on the video, click the Transcript tab on the side of the video window, then copy and paste the text into a document for student reference.
Next Generation Science Standards
The following inquiry investigations might be part of a summative assessment for these performance expectations. See NGSS documents for additional related Common Core State Standards for ELA/Literacy and Mathematics.
Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
MSPS22. Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.
MSPS31. Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object.
MSPS35. Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.
Structure and Properties of Matter
HSPS21. Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration.
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Engineering
MSETS11. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
MSETS12. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
MSETS13. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
MSETS14. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
Common Core State Standards Connections: ELA/Literacy –
RST.68.3 Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
WHST.68.1 Write arguments focused on disciplinespecific content.
Facilitate SCIENCE Inquiry
Encourage inquiry using a strategy modeled on the researchbased science writing heuristic. Student work will vary in complexity and depth depending on grade level, prior knowledge, and creativity. Use the prompts liberally to encourage thought and discussion. Student Copy Masters begin on page 15.
Explore Understanding
Ask students to think of reallife examples in which objects travel in circular paths. Help students understand that some force is needed to cause an object to deviate from a natural straightline path, and that the amount of force needed depends on factors such as the speed and the radius of the turn, by using the following prompts.
• Normally, the path of an object moving with no forces acting on it will be a_____.
• Examples of objects travelling in a straight line with no forces acting on them include….
• Examples of objects travelling in a circular path include….
• Objects travelling in a circular path are forced to do so by….
• Objects traveling in their path are affected by g because….
• As speed increases, the amount of force needed to cause circular motion….
• As radius increases, the amount of force needed to cause circular motion….
Show Shaun White & Engineering the Halfpipe and encourage students to jot down notes while they watch. Continue the discussion of the factors involved in allowing Shaun White to reach great heights and yet do so with bearable gforces, using prompts such as the following:
• When I watched the video, I thought about….
• The video describes centripetal as….
• The video describes accelerationas….
• Acceleration can mean a change in _____, but here it refers to….
• After observing the video from 4:52 to 5:23, I understand….
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• Shaun White needs to reach high speeds so that he can….
• The problem with executing a turn in the halfpipe at high speed is….
• As Shaun White’s speed increases, the centripetal force on him….
• To reduce the centripetal force impacting Shaun White, you would need to….
Ask Beginning Questions
Stimulate smallgroup discussion with the prompt: This video makes me think about these questions…. Then, ask groups to list questions they have about centripetal acceleration and force. Ask groups to choose one question and phrase it in such a way as to be researchable and/or testable. The following are some examples:
• How can we discover the mathematical relationship between speed and centripetal acceleration?
• How can we discover the mathematical relationship between radius and centripetal acceleration?
• How can we design a system in our classroom with which we can analyze the science of the halfpipe?
Design Investigations
Choose one of the following options based on your students’ knowledge, creativity, and ability level and your available materials. Actual materials needed would vary greatly based on these factors as well.
Possible Materials Allow time for students to examine and manipulate the materials that are available. Doing so often aids students in refining their questions or prompts new ones that should be recorded for future investigation. In this inquiry, students might whirl a small object in a circle, with some way of setting or measuring speed, radius, and centripetal force. Materials might include a ruler or meter stick, a stopwatch or clock, small objects such as washers and/or rubber stoppers, smooth, lightweight cord such as fishing line, and a small, smooth tube through which to pass the cord and which can be held safely in a student’s hand. You might have plastic, metal, or PVC tubing with a smooth edge that will work. If glass tubing will be used, you might “firepolish” the end using a Bunsen burner and wrap the tube in tape for a better grip. Make sure students understand how to use these tools and measurement devices safely.
Safety Considerations: There is the potential for a student to be struck in the face by objects whirled about by other students, so strict rules about standing at a safe distance and wearing protective eyewear are in order. To augment your own safety procedures, see NSTA’s Safety Portal at http://www.nsta.org/portals/safety.aspx.
Open Choice Approach (Copy Master page 15)
1. Groups might come together to agree on one question for which they will explore the answer, or each group might explore something different about the relationships among acceleration, speed, and radius in the case of circular motion. Some ideas include determining how centripetal force depends on radius or on speed, or determining that centripetal acceleration equals speed squared divided by radius, or that centripetal force equals centripetal acceleration multiplied by the mass of the moving object.
2. Give students free rein in determining how they will explore their chosen question, such as
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how to determine how centripetal acceleration depends on the speed of an object and on
the radius of its circular path. To help students envision this particular investigation, use prompts such as the following:
• The factors involved in centripetal acceleration include….
• We will determine acceleration by…. (Hint: this will be force divided by mass)
• We will determine values of speed and radius by….
• We will keep speed constant while changing radius, and vice versa, by….
• We will measure centripetal force by….
• The system we designed is similar to an actual halfpipe because….
• The kinds of evidence we need in order to support our claim include….
3. Students should brainstorm to form a plan they would have to follow in order to answer the question, which might include researching background information. Work with students to develop safe procedures that control variables and enable them to make accurate measurements. Insist that they get your approval on their procedures before they start any investigation. Encourage students with prompts such as the following:
• Information we need to understand before we can start our investigation is….
• The variables we will test are….
• The variables we will control are….
• The steps we will follow are….
• We will record and organize our data using….
• To conduct our investigation safely, we will….
4. To explore the relationships among centripetal acceleration, speed, velocity, and radius, students might construct an apparatus similar to that in the drawing where they attach a set number of washers to the end of a piece of thin fishing line, pass this line through a thin, smoothedged glass, plastic, or PVC tube, hang other washers (an alternative would be to use a spring scale) from a paper clip attached to the other end of the string (so that these will supply the centripetal force), and whirl the first ones around in such a way that the radius stays constant. The speed is determined by dividing the distance travelled (the circumference times the number of revolutions) by the time. The centripetal force and hence acceleration is determined by the number of washers hanging from the vertical part of the cord.
tape 
heavy plastic straw or glass tubing 
washers or rubber stoppers 
washers or rubber stoppers 
fishing line 
paper clip 
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Focused Approach (Copy Master pages 16–17)
The following exemplifies how students might investigate the questions of how centripetal acceleration depends on speed and radius. Give students some leeway in determining how they will explore these questions, but insist that they get your approval on their procedures before they start any investigation. One way an inquiry could be conducted involves whirling small objects (washers, or optionally a rubber stopper) around in a circle. (See the diagram above.)
1. Ask students questions such as the following to spark their thinking:
• What kinds of evidence can you collect that will be appropriate for supporting your claim(s)?
• On what two factors might centripetal acceleration depend?
• How might an increase in speed affect the amount of centripetal acceleration?
• How might an increase in radius affect the amount of centripetal acceleration?
• How might we control or measure the amount of centripetal acceleration?
• How might we control or measure the radius?
• How might we determine the speed of an object whirling around in a circle?
• How does our system reflect what really goes on in a halfpipe?
2. Students might obtain a piece of thin fishing line or other smooth cord about 80 cm long and then tie two small, identical washers to one end (middle school instructors might need to model this activity first). The cord can then be passed through a thin tube. The tube should be long enough—10 cm or more—so it can be held in the hand, and should have smooth edges at the end nearest the two washers. To the other end of the cord, a small paper clip might be attached, fashioned into a hook capable of holding up to a dozen washers. If a triple beam balance or electronic scale is available, students might also check the masses of the washers and the paper clip. Students might place the tube so that, with the cord stretched out, the center of the pair of washers is 20–30 cm from the top of the tube. Then they might attach a small piece of tape to the cord, a millimeter or two below the bottom of the tube. Having done this to establish a fixed radius, the students might practice whirling the two washers around with 5 or more washers hanging from the paper clip, so that the tape hovers just below the bottom of the tube. If the tubes edges are not very smooth, there might be some sticking or grabbing. To minimize this problem, students might whirl a bit faster or slower to try to find the speed halfway between those that allow the tape to move up or move down. Students might also determine a method for finding the period of the motion (the time to complete one revolution). This could be done either by counting the number of revolutions in a set time period (i.e., 30 seconds) or by using a stopwatch to find the time needed to complete a whole number (i.e., 50) of revolutions. The period and the radius can then be used to find the speed (considering that the washers travel one circumference in one period).
• The force causing the centripetal acceleration is determined here by…. (The number or weight of the hanging washers.)
• This force can be compared to the weight of the two moving washers by…. (Dividing the number of vertically hanging washers by the number of moving washers, i.e. 5/2 or 2.5 in our example. That means the centripetal force is about 2.5 g’s.)
• We will determine the radius by…. (Measuringthe distance from the moving washers to the tube while the tape is a millimeter or two from the other end of the tube.)
• We will determine the period by…. (Dividingthe time by the number of revolutions.)
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• We will calculate the speed by…. (Multiplyingthe radius by 2π to get the circumference and then dividing the result by the period.)
3. After students have practiced the procedures in (2), they might first find the speed needed to support 5 washers hanging on the paper clip. Then, they might place 5 more washers and another paper clip on the vertically hanging washers (in order to double the weight and hence the centripetal force and resulting acceleration) and repeat the procedure. They might then compare the speeds to see by what factor the speed had to be increased to double the force (and thereby the acceleration while keeping the radius constant). Use prompts such as:
• With 5 washers, the number of g’s experienced by the moving washers is…. (2.5, if the number of moving washers is 2 and the number of hanging ones is 5)
• With 10 washers, the number of g’s has been increased by a factor of…. (two)
• In going from 5 to 10 washers, the speed was increased by a factor of…. (Depending on students' data, the answer will be just over 1.4, or the square root of 2)
• The relationship between the centripetal acceleration and the speed is…. (speed is proportional to the square root of the acceleration or acceleration is proportional to the square of the speed)
• We want to hold the radius constant so that we can isolate the effect of.... (speed)
• Our system clearly shows what happens on the halfpipe when the skier....
4. Students might now double the radius (i.e., from 25 to 50 cm) by moving the tape further down the cord toward the paper clip. They might then attempt to whirl the washers around with exactly half the period as before, in order to hold the speed constant. To do this, they will find it necessary to remove washers. They might start with the 10 washers left over from (3) and reduce one or two at a time, checking the period each time, until they have gotten exactly half the original (10 washers with original radius) period, or have just overshot it. Help students understand the goal of this exercise by using these, or similar prompts:
• We want to hold the speed constant so that we can isolate the effect of…. (the radius)
• We will hold the speed constant while doubling the radius by…. (cutting the period in half)
• In order to double the radius while holding speed constant, the force and resulting acceleration had to be reduced by a factor of…. (two)
• The relationship between the centripetal acceleration and the radius is…. (an inverse proportion)
5. If students followed roughly the above scenario, they might have noticed a problem in the analysis: the horizontal plane of the motion was below the top of the tube, so that the radius used was a bit more than the actual radius of the circle. In particular, the measured radius was the hypotenuse of a right triangle whose horizontal side is the true radius of the circle. Interestingly, it can be shown (using the physics concept of vectors) that the true radius divided by the vertical side (how far below the tip of the tube the circle was) is the same as the vertically hanging mass divided by the moving mass. For 5 washers (plus paper clip) this is just over 2.5 (5 divided by 2) and for 10 it was just over 5. Also, the g’s felt by the moving washers is the hypotenuse divided by the vertical distance (just over 2.7 and 5.1, almost exactly the examples discussed by Coller in the video). Students might go back and reassess their conclusions in (3) and (4), taking into account the true radii in each case. Help
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students understand this problem, using these or similar prompts:
• The radius we used earlier is too (big/small) because….
• We can calculate the true radius by….
• The percentage difference between our supposed radii and the true ones is ____ when using 5 washers and ___ when using 10 washers….
• Our new statements of the relationships in (3) and (4) is….
6. After reviewing the equation for centripetal acceleration and discussing what each variable means, students might now investigate the relationship between centripetal acceleration and speed more thoroughly (the one between acceleration and radius is more difficult, due to the problem of having to hold speed constant while changing radius). Students might choose a fixed radius to use, and determine speed using several different numbers of washers. The might then graph acceleration (or simply number of washers) versus speed. The graph should be an upward sloping parabolic curve, showing that the acceleration is proportional to the square of the speed.
Adapt for High School
As an alternative for more advanced students, students might try many combinations of radii and numbers of washers. The radius could be calculated properly using the Pythagorean theorem. The acceleration could be calculated as the acceleration due to gravity (9.8 meters per second squared) times the ratio of the hanging mass to the moving mass. Students might make a table showing the speed, radius, and acceleration for each trial, along with the acceleration calculated using a_{c} = v^{2}/r. Another column could be used to show the percent difference between these accelerations for each trial.
Make a Claim Backed by Evidence
As students carry out their investigations, ensure they record their observations as evidence to support their claims. As needed, suggest ways they might organize their data using tables or graphs. Students should analyze their data and then make one or more claims based on the evidence their data shows. Encourage students with this prompt: As evidenced by… I claim… because….
An example claim relating the centripetal acceleration’s dependence on speed might be:
As evidenced by the fact that—in order to double the number of hanging washers — I had to increase the speed by a factor of 1.4, I claim that centripetal force is proportional to the square of the speed, because 1.4 is approximately the square root of 2.
Present and Compare Findings
Encourage students to prepare presentations that outline their inquiry investigations so they can compare results with others. Students might do a Gallery Walk through the presentations and write peer reviews, as would be done on published science and engineering findings. Students might also make comparisons with material they find on the Internet, the information presented in the video, or an expert they chose to interview. Remind students to credit their original sources in their comparisons. Elicit comparisons from students with prompts such as the following:
• My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….
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• My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….
• My ideas are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….
Students might make comparisons like the following:
My ideas are similar to those discussed in the video—doubling the centripetal acceleration results from increasing the speed by almost half.
Reflect on Learning
Students should reflect on their understanding, thinking about how their ideas have changed or what they know now that they didn’t before. Encourage reflection, using prompts such as the following:
• I claim my ideas have changed from the beginning of this lesson because of this evidence…
• My ideas changed in the following ways…
• I wish I had been able to spend more time on….
• Another investigation I would like to try is….
• After completing the investigation my explanation of centripetal force and acceleration is…
Inquiry Assessment
See the rubric included in the student Copy Masters on page 21.
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Facilitate ENGINEERING DESIGN Inquiry
Encourage inquiry using a strategy modeled on the researchbased science writing heuristic. Student work will vary in complexity and depth depending on grade level, prior knowledge, and creativity. Use the prompts liberally to encourage thought and discussion. Student Copy Masters begin on page 18.
Explore Understanding
Guide a discussion to find out what students know about snowboarding (or skateboarding) and halfpipes. Use the following or similar prompts to start students talking.
• During a snowboarding competition, snowboarders….
• A halfpipe is….
• When a snowboarder is on a halfpipe, he or she….
• Some motions (tricks) that a snowboarder does include….
• Other sports that use halfpipes are….
Show Shaun White & Engineering the Halfpipe and encourage students to take notes while they watch. Continue the discussion of halfpipes using the following or similar prompts:
• When I watched the video, I thought about….
• The experts in the video explained that….
• The shape of a halfpipe can change by….
• Making the sides of a halfpipe taller helps snowboarders by….
• Changing the radius of a halfpipe helps snowboarders by….
• Over the years, halfpipes have changed by….
• Engineering has improved snowboarding by….
Identify Problems
Stimulate smallgroup discussion with the prompt: This video makes me think about these problems…. Then have small groups list questions they have about optimizing performances in snowboard halfpipe competition. Ask groups to choose one question and phrase it in such a way as to reflect an engineering problem that is researchable and/or testable. Remind students that engineering problems usually have multiple solutions. Some examples are:
• What is the best way to launch a model snowboard off a halfpipe in a twisting motion?
• What shape of halfpipe launches a model snowboard the highest?
• What material makes the fastest model snowboard?
• What are some of the variables (things that can be changed) when designing a halfpipe for competition?
• What are some of the variables that the snowboarder changes when competing in the halfpipe competition?
Design Investigations
Choose one of the following options based on your students’ knowledge, creativity, and ability level and your available materials. Actual materials used will vary greatly based on these factors as well.
Possible Materials Allow time for students to examine and manipulate the materials you have available. Doing so often aids students in refining their questions or prompts new ones that
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should be recorded for future investigations. In this inquiry, students might build model
snowboards using tongue depressors, cardboard, plastic cut from plastic bottles, or other flat materials. A realistic option might be to use toy finger skateboards or cars. Students might then attach a model snowboarder to their snowboard. The model snowboarder may be made from a dowel, modeling clay, or some other stiff and somewhat heavy material. Halfpipes might be constructed using large poster board, large PVC pipes, or flexible plastic sheets. If students wish to measure the jump height of their model snowboarders, they could make a large grid to attach to the wall next to their halfpipe. Students who wish to measure the speed of their model snowboarders will need meter sticks (or tape measures) and stopwatches. If possible, allow students to use smart phones or video cameras to record their snowboarder jumps. Make sure students understand and know how to use the various tools safely prior to the activity.
Safety Considerations To augment your own safety procedures, see NSTA’s Safety Portal at http://www.nsta.org/portals/safety.aspx.
Open Choice Approach(Copy Master page 18)
1. Groups might come together to agree on one problem for which they will design a solution, or each group might explore different problems, such as finding the best way to launch a model snowboard to give it a twisting motion, finding the optimal shape for a halfpipe (use of a quarterpipe can be considered), or determining which material makes the fastest model snowboard. Give students free rein in determining how they will design their solutions, but insist that they get approval before building and testing. To help students envision their investigations, such as one pertaining to finding the optimal shape for a halfpipe, use prompts such as the following:
• The problem we are solving is….
• The materials we could use are….
• We are designing a solution that will….
• Acceptable evidence for our solution would include.…
2. Lead wholeclass or smallgroup discussionsto establish the criteria and constraints within which solutions will be designed. Remind students that criteria are factors by which they can judge the success of their effort and that constraints are limitations to the effort and are often related to materials and time.
• We think we can solve the problem by....
• Our criteria for success are... and we will determine them by…..
• Constraints that might limit the range of potential solutions are....
3. Students should brainstorm to form a plan they would have to follow in order to solve the problem, which might include researching background information. Work with students to develop safe procedures that enable them to collect data. For example, to find the optimal shape for a halfpipe, students might construct a halfpipe using poster board, send a model snowboard down the halfpipe, and measure how high the snowboard is launched. Students could then vary the shape of the halfpipe to compare launch heights. Encourage students with prompts such as the following:
• Information we need to understand before we can start our investigation is….
• We will construct our model halfpipe by….
• We will test our process by….
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• We will record and organize our data using….
• To conduct our investigation safely, we will….
4. After communicating information to the class about their solution and reflecting on their own solution as well as those of other groups, allow the class or small groups to go through a redesign process to improve their solutions.
Focused Approach(Copy Master pages 19–20)
The following exemplifies one way students might build a model snowboarder that simulates an actual snowboarder and then find a solution to the problem: What is the best way to launch a model snowboard off a halfpipe in a twisting motion? Give students leeway in determining exactly how they will build their model snowboarders, but insist that they get your approval on their procedures before they start any investigation.
1. Allow time for groups to examine all of the materials available to them. Guide wholeclass or smallgroup discussion to identify the problem they are solving and then to identify criteria and constraints within which their solution will be developed. Remind students that criteria are factors by which they can judge the success of their effort and that constraints are limitations to the effort and are often related to materials and time. Use prompts such as the following:
• The problem we are solving is….
• The materials we could use are….
• We are designing a solution that will….
• The science concepts that we will need to use in creating our design include….
• We think we can solve the problem by....
• Our criteria for success are....
• Constraints that might limit the range of potential solutions are....
• Acceptable evidence that would support our claims of success for our design include….
2. Encourage students to think about the criteria they will use to judge the success of their snowboarder’s jumps. For example, students might decide that a model snowboarder must twist or reach a certain height in the air after it is launched. Also have them consider how they will vary the launching of their model snowboarders. Use prompts such as the following in your discussion.
• Snowboarders twist or flip in the air because….
• To get the most twists or flips during a jump, a snowboarder must….
• To get the most height from the snowboarder to allow tricks, a snowboarder must….
• The speed of a snowboarder is important because….
• Things I can change when launching my model snowboarder are….
• We can model a snowboard and a snowboarder using _____ because….
• We are not going to use _____ because we think it/they will….
• The system we designed is different/similar to the halfpipe used in competition because…
• The snowboarder we designed is different/similar to an actual snowboarder because….
3. Ensure students understand the concept of torque. Review what torque is, and explain how torque is needed to make their model snowboarders twist or flip. Tell students that their launch methods must include a way to give their snowboarders torque.
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4. You may wish to construct one or two model halfpipes for the class to use. A small halfpipe could be constructed using a large PVC pipe that is cut in a half lengthwise. A larger halfpipe could be constructed using sheets of poster board bent into a curve and taped between two desks. To make model snowboards, students could use tongue depressors, cardboard, or plastic cut from plastic bottles. Toy finger skateboards or cars might also be considered. For model snowboarders to ride on the snowboards, students could use dowels, cardboard, or modeling clay. Draw a large grid on a chalkboard next to the halfpipe that the students can use to measure the height of their snowboarder’s jumps. Once students have built their model snowboards and snowboarders, they should determine how to send the snowboarders down the halfpipe so that the snowboarder is launched in the air. Students might be looking for twists or flips, or simply height. Encourage students to use their smart phones to film their snowboarder’s jumps as an aid for calculating height and for later review. Help students visualize this procedure using these or similar prompts:
• Our model snowboard will be made from….
• Our model snowboarder will be made from….
• To make our snowboarder twist or flip after it is launched we will….
• To make our snowboarder reach the greatest height, we will….
• To judge the success of our snowboarder’s jump we will….
5. After communicating information to the class about their solution (particularly about success/failure in making their model snowboarder twist/flip) and reflecting on their own solution as well as those of other groups, allow the class or small groups to go through a redesign process to improve their solutions.
Make a Claim Backed by Evidence
As students carry out their investigations, ensure they record their observations and measurements. Students should analyze their observations in order to state one or more claims. Encourage students with this prompt: As evidenced by… I claim… because…. or I claim our design (was/was not) successful because….
An example claim might be:
As evidenced bythe video taken of my model snowboarder, I claim that applying a torque or a twist to the snowboarder as I pushed it down the halfpipe gave the snowboarder a lot of rotational motion because the snowboarder spun twice after it was launched.
Present and Compare Findings
Encourage students to prepare presentations that outline their inquiry investigations so they can compare results with others such as classmates who built similar models, material they found on the Internet, the information presented in the video, or an expert they chose to interview. Remind students to credit their original sources in their comparisons. Elicit comparisons from students with prompts such as:
• My findings are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….
• My findings are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….
• My findings are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….
• My model system is different from and similar to an actual halfpipe and snowboarder because…
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Students might make comparisons like the following:
My results were similar to those of my classmates in that any snowboarder that was twisted as it was pushed down the halfpipe spun in the air after it was launched. Snowboarders that were not twisted did not spin in the air at all.
Reflect and Redesign
Students should reflect on their understanding, thinking about how their ideas have changed or what they know now that they didn’t before. They should also evaluate their own designs in light of others’ presentations and propose changes that will optimize their designs. Encourage reflection, using prompts such as the following:
• My ideas have changed from the beginning of this lesson because evidence showed that….
• My design would be more effective if I _____ because I learned that….
• My ideas changed in the following ways….
• When thinking about the claims made by the experts, I am confused about....
• One part of the investigation I am most proud of is….
Inquiry Assessment
See the rubric included in the student Copy Masters on page 17.
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Copy Master: Open Choice SCIENCE Inquiry Guide for Students
Shaun White & Engineering the Halfpipe
Use this guide to investigate and better understand the concepts of centripetal acceleration, its measurement and what factors affect it. Write your report in your science notebook.
Ask Beginning Questions
My class discussion and the video encouraged me to think about these questions….
Design Investigations
Choose one question. Brainstorm with your teammates to come up with ways in which you might be able to answer the question. Look up information as needed. Add safety precautions. Use the prompts below to help focus your thinking.
• The variable(s) we will test are….
• The variable(s) we will control are….
• The steps we will follow are….
• We will record and organize our data using….
• To conduct the investigation safely, we will….
Record Data and Observations
Record your observations. Organize your data in tables or graphs as appropriate.
Make a Claim Backed by Evidence
Analyze your data and then make one or more claims based on the evidence your data shows. Make sure that the claim goes beyond summarizing the relationship between the variables.
My Evidence 
My Claim 
My Reason 



Present and Compare Findings
Listen to presentations of other groups and create a peer review as scientists do for one another. You might also compare your findings with those of experts in the video or that you have access to, or material on the Internet. How do your findings compare? Be sure to give credit to others when you use their findings in your comparisons.
• My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….
• My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….
• My ideas are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….
• My ideas compare/contrast with the actual halfpipe in that….
Reflect on Learning
Think about your results. How do they fit with what you already knew? How do they change what you thought you knew about the topic?
• My ideas have changed from the beginning of this lesson because of this evidence….
• My ideas changed in the following ways….
• One idea/ concept I am still working to understand involves….
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Copy Master: Focused SCIENCE Inquiry Guide for Students
Shaun White & Engineering the Halfpipe
Use this guide to investigate a question about factors determining centripetal acceleration. Write your report in your science notebook.
Ask Beginning Questions
How and why, mathematically, does centripetal acceleration depend on speed and radius?
Design Investigations
Brainstorm with your teammates to come up with ways in which you might be able to answer the question. Decide on one idea and write a procedure that will allow you to safely explore the question. Use the prompts below to help focus your thinking.
• The variable(s) we will test are….
• The responding variable(s) will be….
• The variables we will control, or keep the same, are….
• We will control or measure the amount of centripetal acceleration by….
• We will control or measure the radius by….
• We will determine the speed of an object whirling around in a circle by….
• To conduct our investigation safely, we need to….
Record Data and Observations
Organize your observations and data in tables or graphs as appropriate. The table below is an example of testing different combinations of radius and centripetal acceleration.
Data for Whirling Washers
Number of washers hanging vertically 
Radius (m) 
Time (s) 
Number of revolutions 
Period (s/rev) 
Speed (m/s) 














Number of Hanging Washers versus Speed (for fixed radius = )
Number of hanging washers 
Speed of whirling washers (m/s) 
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Ideas for Analyzing Data
• How did the weight (of number) of the hanging washers compare to the weight (or number) number of whirling washers?
• By what factor was the speed changed when you doubled the number of hanging washers while holding radius constant?
• By what factor did you need to change the number of washers in order to double the radius while holding the speed constant?
• Is your graph a straight line or a curve? If it is a curve, what type of equation might describe it? Does the shape of your graph have a name?
• How would your results be different if you used the actual radius of the circle in which the whirling washers travelled, instead of the length of cord measured from the top of the tube to these washers?
Make a Claim Backed by Evidence
Analyze your data and then make one or more claims based on the evidence your data shows. Make sure that the claim goes beyond summarizing the relationship between the variables.
My Evidence 
My Claim 
My Reason 



Present and Compare Findings
Listen to presentations of other groups and create a peer review as scientists do for one another. You might also compare your findings with those of experts in the video or that you have access to, or material on the Internet. How do your findings compare? Be sure to give credit to others when you use their findings in your comparisons.
• My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….
• My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….
• My ideas are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….
Reflect on Learning
Think about what you found out. How does it fit with what you already knew? How does it change what you thought you knew?
• I claim that my ideas have changed from the beginning of this lesson because of this evidence….
• My ideas changed in the following ways….
• One concept I still do not understand involves….
• One part of the investigation I am most proud of is….
• Something that surprised me the most was…
• A challenge that I (we) had to overcome was…
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Copy Master: Open Choice ENGINEERING DESIGN Inquiry Guide for Students
Shaun White & Engineering the Halfpipe
Use this guide to investigate a questions about the optimal design for a halfpipe or model snowboarder in action. Record your notes and observations in your science notebook.
Identify Problems
Our class discussion and the video make me think about problems such as….
Design Investigations
Choose your materials and brainstorm with your teammates to discuss how you will make and test your model. Take notes on your discussions. Use these prompts to help you:
• The materials we will use include….
• The steps we will follow are….
• Acceptable evidence for our solution would include….
• We will record and organize our data using….
• To conduct our investigation safely, we will….
Test Your Model
Record and organize your data and observations from your tests using tables and/or graphs.
Make a Claim Backed by Evidence
Analyze your results and make one or more claims based on the evidence your data shows. Make sure that the claim goes beyond summarizing the relationship between the variables.
My Evidence 
My Claim 
My Reason 



Present and Compare Findings
Listen to presentations of other groups and create a peer review as scientists do for one another. You might also compare your findings with those of experts in the video or that you have access to, or material on the Internet. How do your findings compare? Be sure to give credit to others when you use their findings in your comparisons.
• My findings are similar to (or different from) the experts in the video in that….
• My findings are similar to (or different from) my classmates in that….
• My findings are similar to (or different from) what I found on the Internet in that….
Reflect and Redesign
Think about what you learned. How does it change your thinking? Your design?
• I claim that my ideas have changed from the beginning of this lesson in that….
• My design would be more effective if I _____ because I learned that….
• When thinking about the claims made by the expert, I am confused about....
• One part of the investigation I am most proud of is….
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Copy Master: Focused ENGINEERING DESIGN Inquiry Guide for Students
Shaun White & Engineering the Halfpipe
Use this guide to design a model snowboarder that gets the most “air” or performs twisting motions. Record your notes and observations in your science notebook.
Identify Problems
What is the best way to launch a model snowboard off a halfpipe in a twisting motion?
Design Investigations
Discuss with your group what properties you want the model snowboard and snowboarder to have. Then discuss how you will build your model snowboard and snowboarder. Use these prompts to help you.
• The science concepts that we will need to use in creating our design include….
• We think we can solve the problem by....
• Our criteria for success are....
• Constraints that might limit the range of potential solutions are....
• Acceptable evidence that would support our claims of success for our design include…
• Snowboarders twist or flip in the air because….
• To get the most twists or flips during a jump, a snowboarder must….
• The speed of a snowboarder is important because….
• Things I can change when launching my model snowboarder are….
• We can model a snowboard and a snowboarder using _____ because….
• We are not going to use _____ because we think it/they will….
• To be safe, we need to….
Test Your Model
Record and organize your observations and data in tables such as the one below.
Launch Conditions 
Number of Twists in the Air 
Jump Height 









Ideas for Analyzing Data
• How did your launch conditions affect the number of twists the snowboarder did in the air?
• How did your launch conditions affect the jump height?
• How did the jump height affect the number of twists in the air?
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Make a Claim Backed by Evidence
Analyze your data and then make one or more claims based on the evidence your data shows. Make sure that the claim goes beyond summarizing the relationship between the variables.
My Evidence 
My Claim 
My Reason 



Present and Compare Findings
Listen to presentations of other groups and create a peer review as scientists do for one another. You might also compare your findings with those of experts in the video or that you have access to, or material on the Internet. How do your findings compare? Be sure to give credit to others when you use their findings in your comparisons.
• My findings are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….
• My findings are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….
• My findings are similar to (or different from) information I found on the Internet in that….
Reflect and Redesign
Think about what you learned. How does it change your thinking? Your design?
• I claim that my ideas have changed from the beginning of this lesson in that….
• My design would be more effective if I _____ because I learned that….
• When thinking about the claims made by the expert, I am confused about....
• One part of the investigation I am most proud of is….
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Copy Master: Assessment Rubric for Inquiry Investigations
Criteria 
1 point 
2 points 
3 points 
Initial question or problem 
Question or problem had had a yes/no answer or too simple of a solution, was off topic, or otherwise was not researchable or testable. 
Question or problem was researchable or testable but too broad or not answerable by the chosen investigation. 
Question or problem was clearly stated, was researchable or testable, and showed direct relationship to investigation. 
Investigation design 
The design of the investigation did not support a response to the initial question or provide a solution to the problem. 
While the design supported the initial question or problem, the procedure used to collect data (e.g., number of trials, or control of variables) was not sufficient. 
Variables were clearly identified and controlled as needed with steps and trials that resulted in data that could be used to answer the question or solve the problem. 
Variables (if applicable) 
Either the dependent or independent variable was not identified. 
While the dependent and independent variables were identified, no controls were present. 
Variables identified and controlled in a way that resulting data can be analyzed and compared. 
Safety procedures 
Basic laboratory safety procedures were followed, but practices specific to the activity were not identified. 
Some, but not all, of the safety equipment was used and only some safe practices needed for this investigation were followed. 
Appropriate safety equipment used and safe practices adhered to. 
Observations and data 
Observations were not made or recorded, and data are unreasonable in nature, not recorded, or do not reflect what actually took place during the investigation. 
Observations were made, but were not very detailed, or data appear invalid or were not recorded appropriately. 
Detailed observations were made and properly recorded and data are plausible and recorded appropriately. 
Claim 
No claim was made or the claim had no relationship to the evidence used to support it. 
Claim was marginally related to evidence from investigation. 
Claim was backed by investigative or research evidence. 
Findings comparison 
Comparison of findings was limited to a description of the initial question or problem. 
Comparison of findings was not supported by the data collected. 
Comparison of findings included both methodology and data collected by at least one other entity. 
Reflection 
Student reflection was limited to a description of the procedure used. 
Student reflections were not related to the initial question or problem. 
Student reflections described at least one impact on thinking. 
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