Overview: Specificity is an important skill in writing clear, easily reproducible experimental procedures. In this activity, students will practice communicating clearly by collaboratively working with written procedures to build a small lego structure.

Objectives:

  • Students will work collaboratively to create a procedure for building up their lego structures
  • Students will add specificity to their procedures
  • Students will follow a procedure given to them my another group
  • Students will thoughtfully assess themselves and their peers, as well as reflect on the activity in its entirety.
Materials:

  • Legos (TWO identical lego sets per group. One is kept off to the side (behind the teacher's desk?) and serves as an "answer key" for future comparison.
  • blank paper
  • Lego Activity Grade Sheet wiki or pdf
  • Lego Activity Reflection Sheet
Procedure:

  1. For 5th / 6th grade I use 4 - 5 lego bricks. Create a simple structure using the lego bricks, then create a second IDENTICAL structure to serve as an "answer key." Do this for each group. When done, hide the "answer keys."
  2. Hand one structure to each student group.
  3. Allow them 10 minutes to write a procedure describing how another group might build the structure. Encourage them to be VERY specific. (Do words like right and left help here? Probably not since you will not know in what orientation the next group will begin the building process!)
  4. At the conclusion of the 10 minutes, students hand the UNASSEMBLED legos + their instruction sheet to the next group. Each group should now have a new lego set they have never seen, plus instructions.
  5. Allow 5 - 7 minutes for the group to build the structure from instructions in front of them. (NOTE: every group will complain that the instructions do not make sence, although they will also claim the instructions they wrote were far better!)
  6. When all of the structures have been built to the best of their ability, hand out the "answer key" structure.
  7. IMPORTANT: Make sure there is enough time to reflect on this activity.
  8. Hand out the "Lego Activity Grade Sheet" and have the group score themselves (on the top half only) on how well their group built the model from the instructions they were given.
  9. Next, have each group hand the grade sheet to the same group that they handed the unassembled original structure and procedure to. This group will score the bottom half of the sheet, or how well the group wrote the procedure.
  10. Have groups look over the scores they were assigned. There will be differences in opinon to be sure.
  11. Allow students time to reflect using the "Lego Activity Response" sheet.
  12. If there is time, allow for discussion. Often, I will have the kids brainstorm and we'll make a list of "what phrasing was specific and helpful" and "what phrasing was unspecific and unhelpful"
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