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Research, Redesign and Report

Students select a science fiction movie, identify one notable object it includes and conduct research to learn how to build a better version of that object. They draw a model and write a report to show and tell how the redesign will improve the object's performance.

PROCESS:

  1. Point out that in the article Zachary Feinstein identified a realistic way to build a better Death Star. He listed scientific and economic reasons why his idea would work. Inform students you are now challenging them to do the same thing.
  2. Instruct students to select a science fiction movie they've all seen. Have them identify one object from the movie that all students are familiar with. 
  3. Have students make a list of the object's key features and select one feature that could be redesigned to improve the object's performance. Have them conduct research to learn how this could be done. 
  4. Tell students to draw a model of their redesigned object. Then have them write a report that highlights the scientific and economic advantages of redesigning the object in this way.

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to share their models and reports. Encourage classmates to discuss the scientific and economic advantages of modifying each object.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:   

Grades 3-4:
Divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to identify a movie and select one object to improve. Then have group members brainstorm ideas about how this could be done. Ideas can be based on reality or may be purely fictional. Once a change is agreed upon, have each group draw a model illustrating its idea. Tell students to identify one scientific and one economic advantage of the redesigned object. Have each group write a brief report outlining its ideas. 

Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to identify a movie and select one object to improve. Then have group members brainstorm ideas about how this could be done. Challenge them to identify real-life examples as the basis for each change. Then have each group draw a model illustrating its idea. Tell students to identify one scientific and one economic advantage of the redesigned object. Have them write a brief report outlining their ideas.

Grades 7-8:
Assign each student a partner. Instruct each pair to identify a movie and select one object to improve. Then have partners brainstorm ideas about how this could be done. Require them to identify real-life examples as the basis for each change. Have each pair draw a model illustrating its idea. Then have them write a detailed report in which they outline their ideas and identify as many scientific and economic advantages of the redesign as they can. 

Grades 9-10:
Assign each student a partner. Instruct each pair to identify a movie and select one object to improve. Then have partners brainstorm ideas to identify at least one large-scale and one small-scale change that could result in a better functioning object. Require students to identify real-life examples as the basis for each change. Have each pair draw a model illustrating its idea. Then have them write a detailed report in which they outline their ideas and identify as many scientific and economic advantages of the redesign as they can.