Sensemaking is actively trying to figure out how the world works (science) or how to design solutions to problems (engineering). Students do science and engineering through the science and engineering practices. Engaging in these practices necessitates that students be part of a learning community to be able to share ideas, evaluate competing ideas, give and receive critique, and reach consensus. Whether this community of learners is made up of classmates or family members, students and adults build and refine science and engineering knowledge together.
Middle school students, as scientists, investigate the construction of NASCAR fire suits to answer the driving question: How can clothing protect us from burns? Students develop a model using science ideas they already have about energy to explain how energy is transferred from the environment to an object. After investigating the construction of fire suits, as well as exploring a simulation to investigate the relationship between the number of particles interacting and energy transfer, they revise their models to explain how layers of air in the suits are important in protecting drivers from burns.
Click the Download PDF button above for the complete Lesson Plan.
Per Small Group (2 to 4 students)