Engineering - Design a Cell Phone


Activity Home Teacher's Guide Credit & Thanks

Teacher's Guide

Recommended Grade Levels: 5-8 

Additional Activities to do in Class:

Tips for using the site with students

  1. Before using this activity in class (or at home with your kids) go through the activity once to make sure it works correctly on your computer(s). If the activity does not load after clicking the 'start' button, you may be asked to download the free Flash Player from Adobe.com. Please click yes, as this allows you to view the Edheads Design a Cell Phone activity. If you are using school computers, you might need to contact your tech support team to download the Flash Player.

  2. If you are using an iPad or other iDevice, our games will not play without downloading an app or browser. We recommend the Photon browser available at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photon-flash-player-for-ipad/id430200224?mt=8.

  3. Your computer(s) will need to have some sort of sound output. Either speakers or headphones will work well. The majority of this activity has voice audio. We highly recommend headphones or ear buds in a classroom setting. Hearing impaired students can read the text at the bottom of the screen. If you are having difficulty hearing, check the audio settings on your computer.

  4. We strongly recommend that students use a real mouse, as the touch pads on lap top computers are more difficult to use for this activity and slow students down significantly.

  5. We recommend that students take notes during the research section and print their designs or take good notes before proceeding from the design section of the activity to the testing section. This allows them to remember what their design choices were and to evaluate how well the design is working for the intended audience.

  6. Students in the target grade-range will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete the entire activity.

Assessment and discussion 

For an assessment tool, teachers may want to have students print their designs, put their names on them and turn them in.  These should indicate if students completed the assigned activity and if they were designing for the intended audience.  Print outs can also be used for a class discussion of the variety of designs that had good sales figures.

After students use the site, additional in class discussion questions (which can also act as assessment tools) can be asked:

  • Why did we practice designing something for an audience like senior citizens?  Why not just design something for middle school students? 

    Answer:  Engineers have to understand all sorts of people that are NOT like themselves.  Male engineers have to be able to design products that appeal to and can be used easily by women.  Women engineers have to be able to design products that can be used by males that may be much taller, larger and heavier than they are.  All engineers may be called upon to understand the needs of infants, small children, older adults, radically different conditions like outer space or inside volcanoes, and even how different cultures think.  We all need to understand points of view that are not our own, but engineers in particular need to be able to understand the implications of designing products and systems for people that are not identical to themselves.

  • Did you have to make choices or trade-offs to design a phone that fit the price and battery life parameters?  Could you make all the best choices you wanted to make and fit them into these parameters? 

    Answer:  No.  For every engineering design decision, there is some sort of trade-off.  You can have a much bigger, brighter screen, but this reduces the battery life and increases the size and weight of the phone.  Senior citizens may not care that the phone is larger, heavier or has a shorter battery life, but a business person may care a great deal about a shorter battery life if it negatively impacts their business.  Every engineer deals with these decisions and trade-offs every day.  For instance you can have a large, extremely comfortable and safe SUV as your vehicle, but it typically gets very poor gas mileage, is expensive to drive and maintain and has a large negative impact on the environment.  A smaller car may get great gas mileage and be better for the environment, but is not as comfortable nor as likely to keep the occupants safe if a crash occurs. The ‘perfect’ product, if it could even be designed, would probably be too expensive for most of us to afford to buy.

  • What is the engineering design process? 

    Answer:  1) research the problem and understand the needs and issues, 2) design the product using the information gained in the research, 3) test the design, possibly with the intended audience, or with machines that test wear, strength, etc., 4) possibly re-design and re-test, if necessary, 5) then launch the product.   What are circumstances where re-designing and re-testing might be necessary?  Answer:  the product is not popular with the intended audience; a product won’t hold the weight or last the amount of time required; the product is too expensive or difficult to produce; the materials chosen don’t deliver the intended results.

  • Why did Miranda Overby, the lady with the fox around her neck, not seem to fit in with the rest of the focus group participants? 

    Answer:  She is an outlier much more interested in fashion than in functionality.  Also, she does not suffer from any physical problems, like hand tremor or poor eyesight, that impact how most of the other focus group participants use cell phones.  She is also the youngest participant in the focus group and at the bottom range of the age group considered to be senior citizens.

  • Why would a company want to design cell phones for senior citizens if they don’t really like using cell phones? 

    Answer: Seniors are an untapped market and therefore a great way to increase sales.  And just because seniors aren’t using current phones doesn’t mean there isn’t a need.  It just means current phones are not meeting the need so seniors either aren’t purchasing them or aren’t really using the phones they own.

Ohio Science Standards

Science & Technology
Grade 5:

Abilities To Do Technological Design

  1. Revise an existing design used to solve a problem based on peer review.
  2. Explain how the solution to one problem may create other problems.

Scientific Inquiry

Doing Scientific Inquiry

  1. Evaluate observations and measurements made by other people and identify reasons for any discrepancies.
  2. Use evidence and observations to explain and communicate the results of investigations.
  3. Explain why results of an experiment are sometimes different (e.g., because of unexpected differences in what is being investigated, unrealized differences in the methods used or in the circumstances in which the investigation was carried out, and because of errors in observations).

Grades 6:

Understanding Technology

  1. Explain how technology influences the quality of life.
  2. Explain how decisions about the use of products and systems can result in desirable or undesirable consequences (e.g., social and environmental).

Abilities To Do Technological Design

  1. Design and build a product or create a solution to a problem given one constraint (e.g., limits of cost and time for design and production, supply of materials and environmental effects).

 

Scientific Inquiry

Doing Scientific
Inquiry

Explain that there are not fixed procedures for guiding scientific investigations; however, the nature of an investigation determines the procedures needed.

Scientific Ways of Knowing

Nature of Science

Identify that hypotheses are valuable even when they are not supported.

Ethical Practices

Describe why it is important to keep clear, thorough and accurate records.

Science and Society

Identify ways scientific thinking is helpful in a variety of everyday settings.
Describe how the pursuit of scientific knowledge is beneficial for any career and for daily life.

Grade 7
Science and Technology

Understanding Technology

Explain how needs, attitudes and values influence the direction of technological development in various cultures.

Abilities To Do
Technological
Design

Design and build a product or create a solution to a problem given two constraints (e.g., limits of cost and time for design and production or supply of materials and environmental effects).

Scientific Inquiry

Doing Scientific
Inquiry

Formulate and identify questions to guide scientific investigations that connect to science concepts and can be answered through scientific investigations.
Analyze alternative scientific explanations and predictions and recognize that there may be more than one good way to interpret a given set of data.
Identify faulty reasoning and statements that go beyond the evidence or misinterpret the evidence.
Use graphs, tables and charts to study physical phenomena and infer mathematical relationships between variables (e.g., speed and density).

Scientific Ways of Knowing

Ethical Practices

Show that the reproducibility of results is essential to reduce bias in scientific investigations.

Science and Society

Describe how the work of science requires a variety of human abilities and qualities that are helpful in daily life (e.g., reasoning, creativity, skepticism and openness).

Grade 8
Science and Technology

Abilities To Do
Technological
Design

 

Examine how choices regarding the use of technology are influenced by constraints caused by various unavoidable factors (e.g., geographic location, limited resources, social, political and economic considerations).

Design and build a product or create a solution to a problem given more than two constraints (e.g., limits of cost and time for design and production, supply of materials and environmental effects).
Evaluate the overall effectiveness of a product design or solution.

Scientific Inquiry


Doing Scientific
Inquiry

Describe the concepts of sample size and control and explain how these affect scientific investigations.
Read, construct and interpret data in various forms produced by self and others in both written and oral form (e.g., tables, charts, maps, graphs, diagrams and symbols).
Apply appropriate math skills to interpret quantitative data (e.g., mean, median and mode).

Scientific Ways of Knowing

Nature of Science

Identify the difference between description (e.g., observation and summary) and explanation (e.g., inference, prediction, significance and importance).

Ethical Practices

Explain why it is important to examine data objectively and not let bias affect observations.


National Science Standards   

Content Standards
Grades 5-8:

  • Understandings about scientific Inquiry.
  • Understanding of structure and function in living systems, reproduction and heredity.
  • Abilities of technological design and understandings about science and technology.
  • Personal health risks and benefits, science and technology in society.

Grades 9-12:

  • Understandings about scientific inquiry.
  • Matter, energy and organization in living systems and behavior of organisms.
  • Abilities of technological design, understandings about science and technology.
  • Natural and human-induced hazards, science and technology in local, national, and global challenges.
  • Understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge and science as a human endeavor.