Educational Resources Lets Talk Science Challenge participants

Social distancing in the park

Social distancing in the park (elenabs, iStockphoto)

Design & Build a Wearable Social Distancing Device

Let's Talk Science

Summary

Students will design and build a wearable prototype that would help to enforce the 2 m social distancing recommendation during the school day.

Overview

Students design and build a marble run that meets specific self-determined criteria.

Timing
60-90 minutes

Setting the Stage

Context

It has been recommended that maintaining a social distance of 2 metres between people is one way to limit the spread of COVID-19. Knowing if you are 2 metres away from another person at any given point in a school day can be difficult.

In this Design & Build challenge, students will develop their Design & Build skills as they create a wearable prototype that would help to enforce this recommendation during the school day. This challenge provides excellent opportunities for students to practice design planning and process planning skills, as well as idea generation for problem solving, decision making, spatial reasoning and measurement skills. 

This Design & Build challenge could begin from:

  • questions and/or comments that arise from students about COVID-19 and social distancing, such as:
    • "Why do we have to wash our hands so much?"
    • "Can kids get sick too?"
    • "Why do we have to wear masks?"
    • "If I don’t feel sick, why do I have to stay away from my friends?"
Kids ask doctors their COVID-19 questions (2020) from CBC News (5:34 min.).
  • exploring photos or videos of ways that people have already developed to indicate a social distance around themselves. 
Cardboard social distance device
Screen grab from the video Top 10 Funny social distance ideas (2020) from Listed
Laser social distance device
Screen grab from the video Top 10 Funny social distance ideas (2020) from Listed
Inflatable tube on cart social distance device
Screen grab from the video Top 10 Funny social distance ideas (2020) from Listed
  • Discuss using questions such as:
    • “What did people use to make their device?”
    • “How are these devices similar? How are they different?”
    • “How practical do you think each device is?”
    • “What are the strengths and weaknesses of each device?”

Design Criteria

Design and build a wearable prototype that would help to enforce the 2 metres social distancing recommendation during the school day.

Design criteria examples:

The prototype must; 

  • enforce 2 metres of distance (front, back, and sides)
  • be removable;
  • be collapsible (has to fit through doorways and be easy to navigate around objects in a room);
  • have accessibility to all components for proper cleaning/disinfecting;
  • be lightweight enough to wear comfortably for extended periods of time (max 2kg);
  • be able to be worn on body or head/neck and allow for hands-free; and 
  • not limit visibility.

Details

Materials
  • cardboard boxes
  • fasteners (masking tape, transparent tape, elastic bands, etc)
  • magnets
  • paper clips
  • pipe cleaners
  • string/wool/ribbon
  • plastic tubing
  • paper straws
  • paper plates
  • paper cups
  • metre sticks
  • wooden craft sticks
  • cardstock
  • aluminum foil
  • Other objects found around school or home

Note: These are only suggested materials. Teachers should modify the materials to suit the needs and accessibility of the learners.

Materials
  • cardboard boxes
  • fasteners (masking tape, transparent tape, elastic bands, etc)
  • magnets
  • paper clips
  • pipe cleaners
  • string/wool/ribbon
  • plastic tubing
  • paper straws
  • paper plates
  • paper cups
  • metre sticks
  • wooden craft sticks
  • cardstock
  • aluminum foil
  • Other objects found around school or home

Note: These are only suggested materials. Teachers should modify the materials to suit the needs and accessibility of the learners.

What to Do

Students develop and apply Design & Build skills as they design, build and test a prototype wearable social distancing device.

Students will follow the steps of the Design & Build process:

  • identify the problem to be solved/need to be met 
  • brainstorm criteria that the prototype must meet
  • share their questions and ideas for a solution to the problem/need
  • discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each in order to select a potential solution to be tested
  • visualize what the solution might look like and make design sketches based on their visualizations 
  • develop a design plan (e.g., identify the tasks or key steps involved in developing the solution, make decisions about tools and materials that will be needed, include labelled sketches)
  • build/develop the design idea based on the design plan 
  • test their prototypes based on the design criteria
  • modify the prototype and retest it against the design criteria as necessary 
  • reflect on their results and identify things that could be done to improve their prototypes
What to Do

Students develop and apply Design & Build skills as they design, build and test a prototype wearable social distancing device.

Students will follow the steps of the Design & Build process:

  • identify the problem to be solved/need to be met 
  • brainstorm criteria that the prototype must meet
  • share their questions and ideas for a solution to the problem/need
  • discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each in order to select a potential solution to be tested
  • visualize what the solution might look like and make design sketches based on their visualizations 
  • develop a design plan (e.g., identify the tasks or key steps involved in developing the solution, make decisions about tools and materials that will be needed, include labelled sketches)
  • build/develop the design idea based on the design plan 
  • test their prototypes based on the design criteria
  • modify the prototype and retest it against the design criteria as necessary 
  • reflect on their results and identify things that could be done to improve their prototypes
Assessment

Observe and document, using anecdotal comments, photos and/or video recordings, student’s ability to:

  • Work Collaborativelystudents work collaboratively to complete a task and evaluate their group processes throughout the Design & Build process
  • Generate Ideas students use idea generation strategies, such as brainstorming, to identify possible solutions as well as make decisions about the pros and cons of each solution
  • Communicate students communicate their thinking and learning in words/sketches/photos/videos, etc. as they identify problems, do research, develop design plans, and share design solutions
  • Work Safely students demonstrate safe practices when using a variety of tools and materials while prototyping
  • Reflect students reflect on the results of their prototype testing and suggest things that they might do differently to improve their prototypes
Assessment

Observe and document, using anecdotal comments, photos and/or video recordings, student’s ability to:

  • Work Collaborativelystudents work collaboratively to complete a task and evaluate their group processes throughout the Design & Build process
  • Generate Ideas students use idea generation strategies, such as brainstorming, to identify possible solutions as well as make decisions about the pros and cons of each solution
  • Communicate students communicate their thinking and learning in words/sketches/photos/videos, etc. as they identify problems, do research, develop design plans, and share design solutions
  • Work Safely students demonstrate safe practices when using a variety of tools and materials while prototyping
  • Reflect students reflect on the results of their prototype testing and suggest things that they might do differently to improve their prototypes
Co-constructed Learning

Students Saying, Doing, Representing

Educator Interactions: Responding, Challenging

Students identify and refine the problem to be solved/need to be met.

  • What is the problem you must solve with this Design & Build challenge?” 
  • What will you have to think about to make sure it is comfortable to wear?”
  • What will you have to think about to make sure it can be cleaned all over?”

Students brainstorm and record criteria for the social distancing wearable

  • “What words could we use to describe some of the features the device must have to be effective?”
  • How will you make sure all of the criteria are met in your final design?” 

Students visualize what the solution might look like and make design sketches based on their visualizations.

  • “Why is it important to label all of the parts of your design sketches?”
  • Kleki is a paint Tool that offers the opportunity for students to draw their sketches online if educators are providing this design and build in a virtual environment. 

Students develop a design plan (e.g., steps in creating a prototype, decisions about tools and materials).

    • “What tools might you need for building the device?”
    • “What materials are easiest to disinfect?”
    • “What measurements will be necessary/important to include in your design?”
  • “What materials would make the device comfortable to wear?”

Students build/develop and test the design idea based on their sketches and design plan (create the prototype).

  • “Which of the design criteria does your prototype meet? Which ones does it not yet meet? Why do you think this happened?”
  • How could you test your ideas as you are building your prototype?”

Students modify the prototype and retest it against the design criteria as necessary.

  • “What problems did you encounter when you tested your prototype?”
  • “What changes in your prototype might improve your results?”

Students reflect on the results of their testing and identify things that could be done differently in the future.

  • “What materials worked best? What materials did not work as well?”
  • “What challenges did your team encounter in working collaboratively to complete the challenge?”
Co-constructed Learning

Students Saying, Doing, Representing

Educator Interactions: Responding, Challenging

Students identify and refine the problem to be solved/need to be met.

  • What is the problem you must solve with this Design & Build challenge?” 
  • What will you have to think about to make sure it is comfortable to wear?”
  • What will you have to think about to make sure it can be cleaned all over?”

Students brainstorm and record criteria for the social distancing wearable

  • “What words could we use to describe some of the features the device must have to be effective?”
  • How will you make sure all of the criteria are met in your final design?” 

Students visualize what the solution might look like and make design sketches based on their visualizations.

  • “Why is it important to label all of the parts of your design sketches?”
  • Kleki is a paint Tool that offers the opportunity for students to draw their sketches online if educators are providing this design and build in a virtual environment. 

Students develop a design plan (e.g., steps in creating a prototype, decisions about tools and materials).

    • “What tools might you need for building the device?”
    • “What materials are easiest to disinfect?”
    • “What measurements will be necessary/important to include in your design?”
  • “What materials would make the device comfortable to wear?”

Students build/develop and test the design idea based on their sketches and design plan (create the prototype).

  • “Which of the design criteria does your prototype meet? Which ones does it not yet meet? Why do you think this happened?”
  • How could you test your ideas as you are building your prototype?”

Students modify the prototype and retest it against the design criteria as necessary.

  • “What problems did you encounter when you tested your prototype?”
  • “What changes in your prototype might improve your results?”

Students reflect on the results of their testing and identify things that could be done differently in the future.

  • “What materials worked best? What materials did not work as well?”
  • “What challenges did your team encounter in working collaboratively to complete the challenge?”
Cross-curricular Connections

Literacy

  • Ask questions (e.g., “How easy is it to move around in your device?”, “Why is it important to stay at least 2 m away from each other?”, “What other ways are people using to maintain social distance, such as in stores?”)
  • Communicate thoughts, feelings and ideas (e.g., while brainstorming criteria for the game, in design plans that include 2D design sketches, in an outline of key design steps/tasks and lists of required materials and equipment/tools)
  • Work collaboratively to come up with solutions (e.g., how to assemble the parts, who will test the prototype)

Mathematical Thinking

  • Recognize and use 2D and 3D shapes and figures (e.g., for constructing circular devices like the man wearing the cardboard circle)
  • Represent using pictures, diagrams, graphs, tables, numbers, words, and/or symbols (e.g., sketch their visualization of how their device might meet the established criteria)
  • Measure and record diameter (e.g., the 2 metre distance between one person and another) and circumference (if creating a circular device)

Visual Arts 

  • Discuss ways to make the devices appealing to wear
Cross-curricular Connections

Literacy

  • Ask questions (e.g., “How easy is it to move around in your device?”, “Why is it important to stay at least 2 m away from each other?”, “What other ways are people using to maintain social distance, such as in stores?”)
  • Communicate thoughts, feelings and ideas (e.g., while brainstorming criteria for the game, in design plans that include 2D design sketches, in an outline of key design steps/tasks and lists of required materials and equipment/tools)
  • Work collaboratively to come up with solutions (e.g., how to assemble the parts, who will test the prototype)

Mathematical Thinking

  • Recognize and use 2D and 3D shapes and figures (e.g., for constructing circular devices like the man wearing the cardboard circle)
  • Represent using pictures, diagrams, graphs, tables, numbers, words, and/or symbols (e.g., sketch their visualization of how their device might meet the established criteria)
  • Measure and record diameter (e.g., the 2 metre distance between one person and another) and circumference (if creating a circular device)

Visual Arts 

  • Discuss ways to make the devices appealing to wear
Extending the Learning

If your students are interested in learning more, the following may provoke their curiosity:

  • Investigate ways to create social distance devices for people with physical disabilities.
    • “How could you make a physical distance device for someone in a wheelchair or that uses a walker or crutches?” 
    • “How could you make a physical distance device for someone who is blind or visually impaired?
  • Investigate ways to use technology to create devices, like the ones used in these projects
Extending the Learning

If your students are interested in learning more, the following may provoke their curiosity:

  • Investigate ways to create social distance devices for people with physical disabilities.
    • “How could you make a physical distance device for someone in a wheelchair or that uses a walker or crutches?” 
    • “How could you make a physical distance device for someone who is blind or visually impaired?
  • Investigate ways to use technology to create devices, like the ones used in these projects