Pregame Warm-Up: Wearable Device Designer – SCOPES-DF

Lesson Details

Age Ranges
Fab Tools
MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-4, Fab-Safety.1, Fab-Fabrication.1, Fab-Design.1
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Aidan Mullaney
Aidan Mullaney
Aidan Mullaney is the Instructional Manager for the GE/Celtics Brilliant Play Lab. His primary role with the Fab Foundation is developing and delivering curriculum for the middle school mobile lab. Aidan facilitates career-related activities with a focus on STEM in… Read More


Students are introduced to the Engineering Design Process through a rapid prototyping activity. Each step of the EDP will be addressed while creating a prototype device using craft materials. This lesson will prepare students for future curriculum in the BCP Collection, with Essential Skills integration.

NOTE: Digital fabrication tools are not used in this lesson. This lesson serves as an introduction for future use of digital fabrication tools.

What You'll Need

Projector w/ computer (Internet)

Invention Kits” – one per student or group

  • Paper Bag (x1)
  • Pipe cleaners/String (x2)
  • Straws (x2)
  • Popsicle sticks (x2)
  • Cardboard/Notecard (x1)
  • Masking Tape/Aluminum Foil (x1 sq. ft.)
  • Any additional craft materials of your choice

The Instructions

Establish the Activity

Introduce students to the Engineering Design Process and Essential Skills

Guided by Fab Foundation instructors, educators will work with students to help them understand the applications of the engineering design process. Learners will cover each step of the engineering design process as they iterate on prototype designs, while working under time and material constraints. Additionally, this lesson will expose students to Essential Skills which are critical in supporting student success.

This lesson is structured in the 5E Instructional Model.

“Today we are going to start with a problem.

We will work in groups of 2-3 to find several solutions as a class.

Before using any digital fabrication tools, we will start with an engineering process activity.”

Discuss key points of the engineering design process:

  • (Empathize) Identify, Research, Develop Solutions, Select Solution, Prototype, Test, Communicate, Redesign.

Discuss Essential Skills that might be used throughout this process:

  • Teamwork, Perseverance, Agility, Goal Setting, Leadership


Generate interest in the activity by allowing students to generate the problem they want to solve.

Empathize (5 minutes)

“After watching this video three times (x3), we will discuss the following questions:”

  • (Alternatively, if there is no access to reliable Internet): After reading this article, we will discuss the following questions with our groups:

“Imagine you are a professional basketball player, and you slip in the middle of a game due to one shoe being untied. How are you feeling? What could have been the outcome? What pain are you experiencing? What thoughts do you have? What thoughts do other team members have? “

Identify (2 minutes)

“Identify the problem together, as a group (teamwork): ‘Where did the problem occur? How did it happen? What is the problem?’ Given the materials, discuss ways to construct a solution or device to solve this problem (goal setting).”

At the end of this step hand out the ‘Invention Kits’


Ask probing questions about the materials and previous solutions to the problem to direct student investigations.

Research (3 minutes)

“Look through your ‘Invention Kits’. What materials do you have at your disposal? How have these materials been used in the past, or what are their material/structural advantages?” (agility)

Show students an instructor-created example device made out of the same materials. Allow students to research the strengths/weaknesses of the example design and create a list of these qualities.


Guide students through planning and explaining their proposed solutions individually and as a group.

Develop Solutions (5 – 10 minutes)

“With the materials from your Invention Kit in mind, sketch or diagram multiple ideas that could solve the problem your group identified. You will have 5-10 minutes to draw these designs that will be created with some (not necessarily all) materials at your disposal. Use as many resources as you would like, ie. partners, peers, or the internet.” (perseverance)

For groups struggling to think of a device, teachers may suggest a device that allows one’s shoes to stay tied, and is easily removable. However, it’s important to note this is not the only possible problem.

Select Solutions (2 minutes)

“Discuss the designs you sketched with your group members. Your group should decide which model you want to begin to prototype, or combine models, and continue with one design in mind.” (teamwork, leadership)


Allow students to apply their plans to create their prototype devices.

Prototype (10 minutes)

“Using materials (bag, pipe cleaners, straws, etc.) provided, your group has 10 minutes to construct the selected device that will solve this problem.” (teamwork, agility, leadership, perseverance, goal setting)


Students will assess their own learning and group process skills by asking open-ended questions about their prototype devices.

Test (3 minutes)

“Test the prototype device. You may put the device on a group member or try other methods of testing its effectiveness.”

“Analyze the following questions”:

  • What are the strengths/weaknesses of the design?
  • Is it easily removed?
  • Is it comfortable?
  • How long can it be used without adjustment?

Communicate (5 minutes)

“Find another group and swap creations.”

“In your group, ask the following questions about their creation”:

  • What do you see?
  • What do you notice?
  • What do you wonder? Why?

What problem was the other group trying to solve?

(Additional questions you may ask if time permits:)

How did they use the materials to solve the problem? Did they use them in surprising or unexpected ways?

Why do you think it might work? Why might it not work? How can you tell?

How does their design inspire you? Using their design as a starting point, how could you make their design more effective at solving the problem?

Get together with the other group(s). Allow each group to share their identification of the original problem and the “what” their device was attempting to solve.

Redesign (5 – 10 minutes)

“You have 5 minutes to make their construction more effective.”

  • DO build on the solution they came up with to the problem that they identified.
  • DO NOT simply add your solution to their construction.

After 5 minutes:

  • How did you build on what already existed?
  • Did your modification work to solve their problem?
  • What problems did you encounter throughout this Design Process?

“Return to your original construction. As a group, discuss”:

  • How did the other group build on your design? What do you see / notice / wonder?
  • How does their modification increase the effectiveness of your solution?
  • What surprises you about what the other team added to your construction? What can you learn from their addition?
  • If you were to try and build a new solution to the problem, what did you learn here that would help make your next solution even better?

“Thank the other group for their contribution to solving the problem you identified!”


  • (MS-ETS1-1): 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.
  • (MS-ETS1-2): Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • (MS-ETS1-4): 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.
  • (Fab-Safety.1): I can safely conduct myself in a Fab Lab and observe operations under instructor guidance.
  • (Fab-Fabrication.1): I can follow instructor guided steps that link a software to a machine to produce a simple physical artifact.
  • (Fab-Design.1): I can be responsible for various activities throughout a design process within a group under instructor guidance.

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  1. SCOPES-DF March 8, 2019
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