The board of executives is seeking innovative ideas from the public to help plan their new facility. Your class has been selected to participate in this unique opportunity. We would like teams of students to create a new innovative ride or redesign an existing structure. Each submission should include research, detailed drawings, and a simple mechanical model of your design.
Please remember that space is limited and your group will have one half of a table top to present your model. The groups were taken from 26 sixth and seventh grade students. The researchers wanted to learn about the communication in the groups and to see how all the members of each group were able to communicate with each other as well as the teacher. The 26 students were divided into six groups trying to keep the number of sixth and seventh graders balanced as well as the sex of the students. The students were given several days to meet and come up with ideas. The following the timeline the students were given to come up with the various elements to complete the project as formally as possible.
Timeline: 1. Research and Sketches (May 14) -one page of research on the mechanics of your model; a clear sketch on 8.5 x 11 paper. 2. Final Drawings (May 17) -a detailed drawing of your design on 11 x 17 paper; diagram should include a title, labels, and scale; this drawing will be used in your final presentation.
3. Models (May 28) -a simple model that demonstrates how the mechanical system works; the model should be displayed on cardboard no larger than half a table top. 4. Presentation (May 29) -each group will be required to pitch their design to an audience (2-3 minutes); each member of the group should be prepared to respond to questions from the audience related to the mechanics of their selected systems. The 11 work secessions over the-five week study were recorded using audiotapes for each group. The students were allowed to use past research papers, as well as any new information and research they could gather from their science classes and the library before the work sessions started.
In total at the end of the project, there was a total of approximately 54 hours of tape-recorded. All of this was later transcribed to paper and analyzed to see how the students would relate to each other the teachers and how their ideas formed and were expressed. Group one composed of two 7th grade girls and two boys, one in sixth and one in seventh grade. One of the Girls emerged as the leader in this group and despite some mild disagreements the group was able to get along very well.
The group was very successful in both the design of their project as well as the presentation that they had to put on. Group two consisted of three 7th grade girls and two 7th grade boys. One of the girls again emerged as the leader while the boys were very quiet. The group was often side tracked by a lot of social talk. While the group had very creative ideas and a lively presentation they were unable to piece together the presentation in a way that they understood the science involved. The remaining groups fall in between groups one and two, and in one case above that of even group one.
After the project was completed and presentations done the interviews of the students took place. Many of the students had only good things to say about the project and the experience from the group work. The language that the students used with each other was at a very basic level. Much of the complicated jargon was placed a side when they were trading ideas and insights in their groups. But during presentation times the students took care to use the proper language given to the topic at hand. Many of the students claimed to be able to grasp the more practical side of science now that they have had to build something first hand using scientific techniques and principals.
Over all, the article provides a lot insight to the style of cooperative teaching. The experiment that was set up was very effective at seeing the student interaction as well as the teacher student interaction. There could have been better ways to record the data considering that during the actual construction phase of the project there were no recorders present. This experiment did not have an easily definable hypothesis going in to the study. They just wanted to observe the students in action and see what level of communication occurred in the groups. The study could have done better if there were a comparison between the sixth grade and the seventh instead of mixing the two to do the project.
I definitely feel that the students received a lot from this project, and not just in an educational manner. The students demonstrated both and educational and social element in working on as well as presenting this project
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