Engineering a Restraint System: A MS Physical Science Lesson

Title of Lesson: Engineering A Restraint System

Course Name: Physical Science

Grade Level: 6

Author’s Name: Jesse Eisenbise

School District: Palmyra Area School District

PA Academic Standards for Science and Technology
3.4 Technology and Engineering Education
3.4.7C1: Describe how design, as a creative planning process, leads to useful products and systems.
3.4.7.C2: Explain how modeling, testing, evaluating, and modifying are used to transform ideas into practical solutions.
3.4.7.C3: Describe how troubleshooting as a problem-solving method may identify the cause of a malfunction in a technological system.
3.4.7.D1: Identify and collect information about everyday problems that can be solved by technology and generate ideas and requirements for solving a problem.
3.4.7.D2: Select and safely use appropriate tools, products and systems for specific tasks.
PA Academic Standards for Career Education and Work
13.3. Career Retention and Advancement
13.3.8.B: Analyze the role of each participant’s contribution in a team setting.
13.3.8C: Explain and demonstrate conflict resolution skills:
  • Constructive criticism
  • Group dynamics
  • Managing/leadership
  • Mediation
  • Negotiation
  • Problem solving
Learning Objectives
  • Students will be able to identify a problem and work collaboratively to solve it with teacher-mandated constraints.
  • Students will work as a team to design, implement, and build a restraint system and learn how to communicate and work with a group of peers.
  • Students will be able to select the appropriate tools and products to use for this specific task, and eliminate unnecessary ones.
  • Students will use their knowledge of Newtonian physics determine the amount of force applied to a small wooden cart when it is crashed at a certain speed.  This force will need to be taken into consideration when building a successful restraint system.
  • Students will learn how to troubleshoot, modify, and improve upon their original design after testing it and making careful observations.
  • Students will learn the value of attendance and how it relates to group dynamics, successful team building, and completion of group tasks.
  • Students will be able to blend creativity and ingenuity with math and physics-acquired knowledge to solve a problem collaboratively.
Conceptual Background
Prior to teaching this lesson, teachers should have the following background:
  • Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion
  • How momentum and force are transferred in a collision
  • How to calculate the force of an object if the mass and acceleration are known.
  • What forces will act on a moving object depending on its material and shape.
  • Types of friction
Instructional Procedure
10 MinutesActivating Thinking
Video clip: Understanding Car Crashes (8:18)
2 MinutesAssignment Description
Teacher describes the problem: Students will be placed in groups of four, and given an egg inside a sealed Ziplock bag.  The egg will then be placed into a seat on a wooden wheeled cart.  The cart will travel down an eight-foot wooden ramp and be crashed into a wooden block.  The goal is for the egg to survive and not crack in any way.  A list of available materials will be provided.
15 MinutesGroup Requirements and Brainstorming
Groups will be given the handout that describes the requirements and the available materials.  Then they will be given time to brainstorm and create a plan with a labeled sketch of their design.  Each design must be approved by the instructor.
30 MinutesGroup Design
 Once the design plan is approved by the teacher, then groups will have 30 minutes to assemble their materials and put the egg into the cart.
15 MinutesDesign Testing
Crash tests commence, each group’s cart is crashed one at a time and subsequently checked for any cracks in the egg.
20 MinutesPost Assessment
Groups complete the post assessment, determining the force applied to their egg during the crash, and a self-reflection of what went well and what could be improved upon.
Formative Assessment
Students complete the post assessment with their groups and the self-reflection, which is graded by the instructor.
Materials Needed
Project description, materials list, post assessment, and self-reflection can be found here
Materials needed for one class of 30 students:
  • 8' wooden ramp
  • 7 wooden carts with 4 wheels that can roll down the ramp with a 2” x 2” metal bracket screwed on for a seat for the egg on each cart
  • A 3’ x 2’ piece of ¾” plywood for an end block at the bottom of the ramp
  • 60 5” x 4” pieces of bubble wrap
  • 60 3” x 4” strips of cardboard
  • 120 rubber bands
  • 120 3’ x 5’ notecards
  • 180 thumb tacks
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 14 markers to draw face on egg
Miller, J.T. (2012, February 22) 
Lucas, J. (2017, September 26). Newton's Laws of Motion 
Brainard, J. (2018, May 23). Types of Friction   

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