Week 4 – What project could help me integrate my content with making?

The project that I would implement and is currently used in Homer High School science classes would be: “What can I do, invent, or create to better care for the environment on the Kenai Peninsula, or to help improve the area’s preparedness for a natural disaster?”  This is the award-winning contest that is called Caring for the Kenai.

Until I took this class I didn’t realize that this was a real-life implementation of tinkering and Makerspaces.  Students from Homer have created apps to provide warnings for natural disasters, small sharing libraries the are spread around town, water collection systems attached to school roofs and composting bucket kits for purchase in the local community.  The fun thing about this program is they offer $25,000 in prize money for schools and students to actually implement their ideas.  You can see some of this year’s winners at http://caringforthekenai.com/.

To access their work I would start with the judge’s rubric from CFK which can be found here: http://caringforthekenai.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Judges_Rubric.pdf.  This rubric uses many of the 8 elements of design from our text, but uses a point system.  I would convert this to a 4-point rubric scale and not include the mechanics section.  I want students to make something, not worry about spelling for this project.

The main parts of this assessment from CFK  cover the following elements:

  1. Originality
  2. Environmental Benefits
  3. Scope of Idea
  4. Research, Development & Technology
  5. Graphics/Visuals

I think this would be considered a better prompt as described in our textbook written by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager.  It is simple, is not specific, and set them free to approach the project as they see fit.  The possibilities students could come up with are endless.

Below I use  Sylvia and Gary’s 8 Elements of Good Design to see if this project makes the cut.  Their criteria is highlighted and bulleted below, and evaluation of the Caring for the Kenai project is written after each criteria.

  • Purpose and Relevance

Caring for their environment or helping prepare for a natural disaster is a worthy purpose and is very relevant to student’s lives.  I think students would want to  spend their time and energy on this.

  • Time

The Caring for the Kenai project gives students almost 6 months to develop, test, make models and develop a presentation.  Students have time in classes to develop ideas, create a proposal and get feedback from adults.

  • Complexity

This project can be as complex or simple as a student wants to make it.  They can use a drafting or 3D software to design a a new park, figure out supplies and costs of completing the project or they can make a puppet to educate young students on what to do in case of a tsunami.

  • Intensity

In order to be successful with the Caring for the Kenai project, students will need intensity.  Hopefully the project is interesting enough for them to get excited and put the time and energy needed to be successful.

  • Connection

I think Caring for the Kenai provides lots of opportunities for connection.  They can definitely work with other students, local experts, and in multiple subject areas.

  • Access

The great part of the Caring for the Kenai project is that students with all levels of technology and ability can come up with something.  Students could use socks to make a puppet or crowd source an app.  Luckily, our school has access to computers and basic building materials.

  • Shareability

The entire purpose of the Caring for the Kenai proposal is to share it.  Part of the project is to present this to judges and then to the public.  The system is in place to get students’ ideas in the local news and to present them at a Kenai-wide banquet.

  • Novelty

Originality is the first and most important part criteria the the Caring for the Kenai project.  The point is to come up with a solution that hasn’t been thought of yet.  It doesn’t get much more novel than that.


Caring for the Kenai. (2017). Retrieved on 6-8-17 at 9:00 pm at http://caringforthekenai.com/.

Clayton, M. (2010). Designing Multidisciplinary Integrated Curriculum Units. ConectED.  Retrieved on 6-6-17 at 8:44 pm at htp://www.connectedcalifornia.org/downloads/LL_Designing_Curriculum_Units_2010_v5_web.pdft.

Education Design. NAF.  Retrieved on 6-6-17 at 8:49 pm at http://naf.org/our-approach/educational-design 

Judges Scoring Rubric. (2017).  Caring for the Kenai.  Retrieved on 6-8-17 at 9:00 pm at http://caringforthekenai.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Judges_Rubric.pdf.

Martinez, S. L. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

Sullivan, C. (2002). The Brighton & Hove Assessment for Learning project Questions worth asking.  retrieved on 6-8-17 at 9:00 pm at http://www.rtuni.org/uploads/docs/Questions%20worth%20asking.pdf .


By waclawskid

3 comments on “Week 4 – What project could help me integrate my content with making?

  1. I love the idea done in homer. I like how they designed their projects to help the environment. I think that we should try and do this with all the projects we create. Students need to see or create projects that benefit society. This will help develop within them an attitude to better society.

  2. Having students work on projects that will support the environment and make it better is really important. I am impressed that you have connected this contest to something that can be done in your classroom. Are there any NGSS that will be potentially covered? I really like how students could come with any idea and I can think of a few things off the top of my head for my own town. Great idea!

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