SCIENCE OF THE SUMMER OLYMPICS: Engineering for Mobility - An Engineering Perspective (Grades 6-12) Print

Objective:

Framework for K–12 Science Education: PS2.A: Forces and Motion: PS2.B: Stability and Instability in Physical Systems, ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems, ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution, ETS2.B: Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World


Introduction Notes:

Science of the Summer Olympics

Engineering for Mobility

An Engineering Perspective (Grades 6-12)

 

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

 

About the Video

This video features Rory Cooper, a biomechanical engineer at the University of Pittsburgh and participant in the 1998 Summer Paralympics games in Seoul. In his Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Cooper and his graduate students are doing research on how wheelchairs are designed and built, depending on the sport played, and sometimes on the position played by the athlete. The video also discusses the concept of the center of gravity of various types of wheelchair designs.

 

0:00     0:12     Series Opening

0:13     0:26     Summary of the 2012 Paralympics events

0:27     0:57     Introducing Cooper

0:58     1:12     Research done in Cooper’s lab

1:13     1:22     Designing different wheelchairs for different sports

1:23     2:17     Wheelchairs designed for rugby

2:18     2:53     Center of gravity in wheelchairs

2:54     3:47     Wheelchairs designed for basketball

3:48     4:36     Wheelchairs designed for racing

4:37     5:06     Summary

5:07     5:16     Closing Credits

 

Language Support

To aid those with limited English proficiency or others who need help focusing on the video, make transcript of the video available. Click the Transcript tab on the side of the video window, then copy and paste into a document for student reference.

 

Connect to Science

Framework for K–12 Science Education  PS2.A: Forces and Motion

                                                                    PS2.B: Stability and Instability in Physical Systems

Related Science Concepts

         Center of gravity

         Balance

         Mass

         Density

         Fulcrum

         Speed

         Mobility

         Biomechanics

(page 1)

 

Connect to Engineering

Framework for K–12 Science Education

      ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems

      ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

      ETS2.B: Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World

 

Engineering in Action

The problem addressed in Science of the Summer Olympics (SOTSO): Engineering for Mobility is how to design a stable wheelchair given the needs of the person using the wheelchair. While Dr. Cooper’s lab focuses on sporting equipment, the concepts can be applied to wheelchairs for everyday use. In designing and building any wheelchair, special attention is paid to the chair’s center of gravity—the point at which both the chair and the person’s mass are equally distributed in all directions. In sporting and other specialized uses, a lower center of gravity coupled with other design modifications results in less tipping of the chair. For everyday use, a higher center of gravity might result in a higher possibility of tipping, but it also makes the chair easier to get in and out of, and better positions the user for general and household tasks in environments not adapted for specific accommodations. The materials and design of a wheelchair are also important—size of wheels, number of wheels, need for bumpers, overall weight, and so on. These will vary depending on whether the user moves the chair or whether someone else is pushing the chair. This research involves several engineering knowledge-generating activities, including transfer from science, design practice, and direct trial.

 

Engineers hone their ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints, such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability. Depending on the stage in the design process, engineers produce different tangible results. Initially, after “the sky’s the limit” brainstorming, the result might be a set of plans and detailed sketches that highlight the critical features of the design. Later in the process, models show how various aspects might function. Finally, a working prototype is produced that is tested and often undergoes changes as the design is refined. As engineers progress through various stages of defining constraints, such as materials, costs, weight, stability, and safety, the limitations are narrowed until the most cost-effective and safest solution to the design problem are defined.

 

Take Action with Students

Using the Design Investigations section of Inquiry Outline as a guide, encourage students to develop the optimum design for a specific or general wheelchair use. As a class, have students determine the constraints within which they will design. These might vary depending on whether all students are designing for the same sport or task or might be more general if students are proposing solutions for different sports or tasks.

 

Inquiry Outline for Teachers

Encourage inquiry using a strategy modeled on the research-based science writing heuristic. Student work will vary in complexity and depth depending on their grade level, prior knowledge, and creativity. Use the prompts liberally to encourage thought and discussion. Student Copy Masters begin on page 6.

 

(page 2)

 

Explore Understanding

Discuss with students their ideas of the challenges of moving around in the classroom or school with a wheelchair. If a wheelchair user is in your class, you might (after privately obtaining the student’s permission beforehand) ask him or her to cite some of his or her challenges with mobility in the school environment. Use prompts such as the following to start students talking:

         Conditions in the hallways during passing period are….

         The position of the desks in our classroom might present challenges such as….

         To get from the bus ramp (loading/unloading area) into the school, wheelchair users must navigate….

         Wheelchair users ride a different style bus than I do because….

         As a wheelchair user, my bus differs from that of nondisabled students in that….

 

Show the video SOTSO: Engineering for Mobility.

 

Continue the discussion focusing on needs of wheelchair users who participate in sports. Help students recall some of the engineering design problems of balance, stability, and center of gravity that engineers overcame for the athletes using prompts such as the following:

         When I watched the video, I thought about….

         The expert in the video claimed that _____ because….

         To stay upright, the wheelchairs used by rugby players have….

         The center of gravity in wheelchairs used by basketball guards vary from those used by forwards and centers in that….

         Wheelchairs used by racers are different from those used by rugby players in that….

         Wheelchairs used by racers are different from those used by basketball players in that….

 

Ask Beginning Questions

Stimulate small-group discussion with the prompt: This video makes me think about these questions…. Direct small groups to list questions they have about factors that influence how wheelchairs are designed. Then challenge students to design the optimum features of wheelchairs for a given sport of their choice, or the needs of people who require wheelchairs in developing countries, or general everyday activities here in the United States. Ask groups to choose one question and phrase it in such a way as to be researchable and/or testable. Some examples are:

         How could the key actions in _____ be performed sitting down?

         What features of a wheelchair are most important to the user in performing a task or sport?

         How do the surfaces a wheelchair moves over impact its design?

         How can a wheelchair be moved most easily by the user?

         How is a wheelchair user’s safety impacted by the center of gravity in the chair-user system?

 

Design Investigations

Choose one of these two options based on your students’ knowledge, creativity, and ability level.

Open Choice Approach (Copy Master pages 6-7)

Small groups might join together to agree on one question for which they will explore the answer, or each small group might explore something different.  Students should brainstorm to plan their design strategies. Remind them to work within the established constraints and to

(page 3)

 

think about how the center of gravity within the chair-user system impacts the user. Student results can include plans, models, or actual working prototypes. Keep students focused by using prompts such as the following:

         The actions necessary for _____ would require the participant to be able to….

         A wheelchair user playing _____ needs to be able to….

         Factors we should consider when choosing our materials include….

         In constructing a wheelchair for using in _____, we should consider….

         To ensure the safety of the user, we should consider….

 

Focused Approach (Copy Master pages 7-8)

The following exemplifies one way in which students might design a wheelchair for use in playing tennis. Student results can include plans, models, or actual working prototypes.

1.      Use questions such as the following to help students focus their design discussions.

         What are our design constraints?

         How does the tennis player score points?

         What equipment does a tennis player use?

         How does a tennis player interact with the court and his/her opponents?

         What features will help a tennis player move around the court?

         What features will help a tennis player have room to swing a racket?

2.      If students will be building models or working prototypes, allow time for groups to examine the materials you have available for their use. Give students free rein in determining which materials they plan to use as long as they are designing within the established constraints. Use prompts such as the following to keep students focused:

         The actions necessary for tennis would require the participant to be able to….

         A wheelchair user playing tennis needs to be able to….

         Factors we should consider when choosing our materials include….

         In constructing a wheelchair for playing tennis, we should consider….

         To ensure the safety of the user, we should consider….

3.      Students might first research the rules of wheelchair tennis to learn that the play is essentially the same as that for non-wheelchair players, except that the ball can bounce twice in the receiving court, and the second bounce can even land outside the court boundaries. Students might create detailed plans that focus on the quick movements around the court, room for a player to swing a racket, and a higher center of gravity to enable the player to sit higher while serving. Students might explore various aspects of the design through models – such as large model wheels attached to a desk chair to figure out clearance for the racket – or do tests to determine whether a higher or lower center of gravity in the chair-user system is safer for the player while maintaining a player’s height advantage for serving.

4.      Students might continue their investigations by adapting their design for different court surfaces. For example, students might test different tire sizes and configurations on hard, clay, and grass surfaces to develop interchangeable wheel systems for their design.

 

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

As students carry out their investigations, you might encourage them to make videos of their observations that can be analyzed to help them modify their designs, if needed. Then, students should state one or more claims based on the evidence their data shows. Encourage students with this prompt: As evidenced by… I claim… because…                                                    (page 4)

 

An example claim might be:

As evidenced bytrials with our model, we claim that a lower center of gravity in the chair-user system is better because it is important that the chair not tip over during quick movements around the court and the serving advantage of height was not enough of an advantage to offset the safety factor.

 

Compare Findings

Encourage students to compare their designs with others, such as classmates who designed similar systems or classmates who designed very different systems, material they found on the Internet, the information found in the video, an expert they chose to interview, or their textbook. Remind students to credit their original sources in their comparisons. Elicit comparisons from students with prompts such as:

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of the experts 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….

 

Students might make comparisons like the following:

We compared our models to videos we found on the Internet of tennis players using wheelchairs. Our design was the same in that we had the player sit low in the chair for stability. The players we watched had wheels on their chairs that were set at a greater angle than ours and that change seemed to allow them to turn more quickly.

 

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. Ask groups to give short presentations about their investigations and encourage questions from the audience on the group’s thinking process as well as their procedures and results. Encourage reflection, using prompts such as the following:

         My ideas have changed from the beginning of this lesson because of this evidence….

         My ideas changed in the following ways….

         The quality of my investigation would have been improved if I had paid more attention to....

         A similar investigation that I would like to explore is….

 

Inquiry Assessment

See the rubric included in the student Copy Masters on page 9.

 

 

 

Incorporate Video into Your Lesson Plan

 

Integrate Video in Instruction

Make Predictions: Pause the video at 3:05, just after the introduction to wheelchair design for basketball (that begins at 2:54). Ask those who play basketball to differentiate among the positions in the sport—forwards, centers, and guards—in terms of what a player in that position does. (Generally, forwards and centers rebound and score, while guards are ball handlers, stealing and moving the ball down the court.) Once the positions are defined, ask students to predict how the job of the athlete in that position might dictate the features of the wheelchair he or she uses. Then continue the video for students to evaluate their predictions.

(page 5)

 

Homework: To support a discussion on aerodynamics, have students watch the video, focusing on the segment about wheelchairs designed for racing at 3:48–4:36. Students should use what they learned to develop a sketch with descriptive labels that explain the features of the ideal racing wheelchair, and how that design enables the athlete to go faster. Their labels should make comparisons with wheelchair designs used in rugby and basketball.

 

Using the 5E Approach?

If you use a 5E approach to lesson plans, consider incorporating video in these Es:

Explain: Make sure students understand that if the distribution of mass in an object or system is asymmetrical, the center of gravity of the object or system will be closer to the larger and more massive end of the object or system.

Elaborate: Have students watch the video, paying special attention to the number of wheels and their configurations on the two different types of wheelchairs used for basketball and the chairs used for rugby and racing.  Pause the video, if needed, so that students can make drawings of the wheels or take notes on what they see. Have students use their notes and drawings to discuss how each configuration provides stability for the chairs and their users.

 

Connect to … STEM

Technology

Recommend that students research the range of technologies and engineering designs that enable almost everyone to participate in sports. Pairs or small groups might research certain sports they have an interest in, or challenge each other to find the most “extreme” sports in which wheelchair users participate. Students should prepare electronic presentations that describe the technology and features that assist the athlete in their participation. Students might begin their research at websites such as the following:

         http://www.wheelchairsportsfederation.org/

         http://www.disaboom.com/

         http://wsi.wcsports.org/

         http://www.apparelyzed.com/support/sport/xtreme_wheelchair_sports.html

 

Use Video in Assessment

Play the video segment from 3:48 to 4:30 with the sound muted and provide students with the following instructions: Explain how engineering technology is used to optimize the performance of athletes who use these types of wheelchairs.

 

 

Copy Master: Open Choice Inquiry Guide for Students

 

Science of the Summer Olympics: Engineering for Mobility

Use this guide to design the optimum features of wheelchairs for a given sport of your choice, or the needs of people who require wheelchairs in developing countries, or general everyday activities here in the United States. Write your lab report in your science notebook.

 

Ask Beginning Questions

The video makes me think about these questions….

 

Design InvestigationsBrainstorm with your teammates about what type of system you will construct within the given constraints. Take notes in your science notebook, which should

(page 6)

 

include safety precautions as needed. Use the prompts below to guide you.

         The actions necessary for _____ would require the participant to be able to….

         A wheelchair user playing _____ needs to be able to…

         Factors I should consider when choosing my materials include….

         In constructing a wheelchair for use in _____, I should consider….

         To ensure the safety of the user, I should consider….

 

Record Data and Observations

Record your observations as labeled, detailed drawings or as narrated video. Highlight the features of your design and explain how they provide solutions for specific needs or problems.

 

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

Analyze your drawings, photos, or videos of your ideal design features and then make one or more claims based on the evidence your data shows.

 

My Evidence

My Claim

My Reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compare Findings

Review the video and then discuss your design with classmates who built the same or similar device. Or do research on the Internet or talk with an expert. 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 that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) what 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?

         My ideas have changed from the beginning of this lesson because of this evidence….

         My ideas changed in the following ways….

         The quality of my investigation would have been improved is I had paid more attention to....

         A similar investigation that I would like to explore is….

 

 

 

 

COPY MASTER: Focused Inquiry Guide for Students

 

Science of the Summer Olympics: Engineering for Mobility

Use this guide to investigate a question about how to design a wheelchair for use in tennis. Write your lab report in your science notebook.

 

Ask Beginning Questions

How can we design a wheelchair that enables a player to participate in tennis and stay safe?

 

 

(page 7)

 

Design Investigations

How can you answer your question? Brainstorm solutions with your teammates. Develop a detailed plan, models, or a working prototype. How could you do that?

         The actions necessary for tennis would require the participant to be able to….

         A wheelchair user playing tennis needs to be able to….

         Factors we should consider when choosing our materials include….

         In constructing a wheelchair for playing tennis, we should consider….

         To ensure the safety of the user, we should consider….

 

Record Data and Observations

Record your observations as labeled, detailed drawings or as narrated video. Highlight the features of your design and explain how they provide solutions for specific needs or problems.

 

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

Analyze your data of your ideal design features and then make one or more claims based on the evidence your data shows. Your claim might involve how the design affords the user to play the game safely within the rules based on your evidence from your trials.

 

My Evidence

My Claim

My Reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compare Findings

Review the video and evaluate your designs with classmates who made the similar systems or with classmates who made very different systems. Or do research on the Internet, talk with an expert, or do field tests. 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 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?

         My ideas have changed from the beginning of this lesson because of this evidence….

         My ideas changed in the following ways….

         The quality of my investigation would have been improved if I had paid more attention to....

         A similar investigation that I would like to explore is….

 

 

 

 

 

 

(page 8)

 

 

 

Copy Master: Assessment Rubric for Inquiry Investigations

 

Criteria

1 point

2 points

3 points

Initial question

Question had a yes/no answer, was off topic, or otherwise was not researchable or testable.

Question was researchable or testable but too broad or not answerable by the chosen investigation.

Question clearly stated, 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.

While the design supported the initial question, the procedure used to collect data (e.g., number of trials, 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.

Variables

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 results in data that 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.

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 reflections were limited to a description of the procedure used.

Student reflections were not related to the initial question.

Student reflections described at least one impact on thinking.

 

(page 9)

 

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