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A World in Motion II

Key Features. A World in Motion II has six key features:

  • It integrates learning in several academic disciplines.
  • It is an adaptation of the Engineering Design Experience (EDE) as defined by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
  • It promotes teamwork. Among students this is teamwork in design teams; among teachers, it is teamwork in interdisciplinary teaching teams.
  • Its learning activities are hands-on and, where appropriate, inquiry-based.
  • Its learning experiences are progressive, building a deepening degree of understanding and driven by a motivational scenario.
  • It involves volunteer professionals with a variety of backgrounds who provide technical and practical information, and serve as role models for students.

Scope. In the first year of the program, more than 500 schools received the classroom materials, with requests for materials increasing rapidly. In many sites in the United States and Canada, middle schools soon began working closely with SAE local sections as pilot schools, and some major companies became sufficiently involved to introduce the program to many schools in their areas.

Instructional Program. A World in Motion II is a set of two engineering design challenges, one each for grades 7 and 8. Both challenges take about eight weeks and involved teachers from five different academic areas. The teacher team is partnered with a company, professional society, or other kind of organization some of whose members become involved in the classroom.

Challenge 2, for the 7th grade, was first available in the fall of 1996. In this unit, developed by the Education Development Center (EDC) of Newton, Massachusetts, teams of three or four students each have the task of designing a motorized toy vehicle that would be a suitable toy for children ages 6-10. The toy must meet the conditions specified in a Request for Proposal from a fictitious toy manufacturer. During the challenge many issues are addressed: the exploration of materials; the math and science relevant to gears, mechanical advantage and torque; market research; the development of an actual design for the vehicle and the construction of a prototype; team dynamics; and making a presentation to representatives of the fictitious toy manufacturer. In this way science, mathematics, technology education, social studies, and language arts are all integrated.

Challenge 2, for the 8th grade, is scheduled to be available in the fall of 1997. In this unit, also developed by EDC, teams of three or four students develop a draft for a new book for children, ages 8-12, containing glider designs that children and adults can sit down and build together. The development of the designs for the gliders and of a design for the book are both part of the challenge, as is a presentation of the book design to an imaginary book publisher. The glider design process begins with students making gliders from a variety of different materials, few of which usually fly initially. The students then explore the physics, aerodynamics, and available materials for the gliders, making observations and processing data to improve their designs. The main idea is to get students to articulate what they have to learn to succeed in the challenge and then to give them an opportunity to learn it. As in Challenge 2, a range of disciplines and related teachers are involved.

In each challenge, the teachers guide their student design teams through a six-phase design process: setting goals, building knowledge, designing, building and testing, finalizing the model, and making a presentation.

Instructional Materials. The materials for teachers and for students, including all the needed hands-on materials, for Challenges 2 and 3 come in separate kits. The SAE Foundation will provide one free set of materials (at each grade level) to each middle school establishing a partnership with a business or organization that will provide volunteer support for the program. The lesson designs in these materials, which give structure to the whole complex design process, originated in classrooms, were developed by the Education Development Center, and underwent formative evaluations at field-test sites by the Learning Research and Development Center of the University of Pittsburgh.

Initiating an Involvement with A World in Motion II. As for A World in Motion, the initiation of partnerships can come from either the school or community side, but for A World in Motion II three people must be committed to the partnership: a School Partner Representative (e.g. a teacher, team leader, grade-level coordinator, or school principal); a School District Administrator (e.g. principal, curriculum coordinator, or superintendent); and a Community Partner Representative (representing a business entity, a service or professional organization, a government installation, or a community ad-hoc committee supporting math and science).

Teachers. The teacher materials that are supplied are sufficient for individual teachers to play a variety of roles in this challenge, although, because of the diverse nature of the strands making up the challenge, it is usually a team of teachers working together for whom the materials are intended. The teachers also receive important support from the volunteers coming from the partnering organization.

Volunteers. Because of the complexity of the challenge, a variety of volunteers may play useful roles, e.g. engineers, scientists, computer-assisted-design technicians, marketers, administrators (including team leaders), human resource people, advertising people, even lawyers (if there is something "patentable"). The commitment a volunteer makes and the roles the volunteer plays vary widely from volunteer to volunteer. A volunteer can appear as seldom as once, perhaps as a representative of the toy manufacturer or the book publisher or as a consulting engineer. The volunteer can be a consultant who might visit as often as once a week and be accessible by e-mail and or phone at other times. Or the volunteer can be a classroom mentor-- observing closely what the students are doing, asking provocative questions, and sometimes supplying answers to the students' questions.

Whatever the role, the volunteer will contribute many things--setting an example of being open to new ideas, being committed to life-long learning, and being able to work with others in a collaborative environment--all premium qualities that have become important for success in today's technologically-oriented society. In some cases, where regional initiatives develop with the support of industry sponsors, SAE will provide training to help engineers understand their possible roles as volunteers.

Not only do the backgrounds the volunteers bring and the roles they play vary from one volunteer to the next; so do the rewards they reap. For example, in addition to the thrill of seeing children working in teams to meet a difficult challenge, volunteers often get new insights into management techniques, e.g. into managing learning and managing design, or in ways to communicate with (and educate) their colleagues, all of which prove valuable in their own professional work.

Additional Information. A "Partnership Builder" kit containing introductory brochures, application forms, and a video, can be obtained by writing to

A World in Motion II
Society of Automotive Engineers
400 Commonwealth Drive
Warrendale, PA 15096-0001

or by calling 800-457-2946

or by sending e-mail to awim@sae.org.


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