Engineering Design Process Lesson 6

The final lesson in the Engineering Design Process was a big success! I felt like I learned just as much as the children did from teaching this lesson. It was a big challenge, and there are definitely some improvements I would make for next time. But I am so proud of these students and so happy with how this lesson series turned out. It’s been a great semester of arts integration!

Click HERE to see my plan for Lesson 6: SHARE.

This lesson, like those that came before it, was designed to highlight and integrate the similarities between the disciplines of music and science. In the performing arts, sharing with an audience what you have created is an integral part of the creative process. I was excited to find, when doing preliminary research, that sharing is also an essential step in the Engineering Design Process. It was this similarity that led to the birth of the entire Engineering Design Series. If an Engineer never shares his or her designs with colleagues, mentors, and peers, much creative inspiration can be lost. So it is with music as well.

With that in mind, here is our ultimate rendition of “I’ve got a Car:”

One thing that really struck me as I taught the final lesson was how much these students have improved over the course of the last several lessons, even on this simple song! When they first learned this fun folk tune, most of these students were chant-singing (using a speaking voice register) instead of really singing (using a head voice register). Although I noticed this, producing a good vocal tone was not the objective of my lessons, and with limited time I decided it was not something I should take a lot of time to correct. I made a few subtle corrections here and there and frequently changed the starting pitch of the song, to help the children become accustomed to singing it in different keys and different registers. But honestly, I think the thing that helped them the most to improve their tone and begin really SINGING this song was the sheer number of repetitions. Between lessons 3, 4, 5, and 6, we definitely sang this song at least a hundred times. I thought they would get bored. I thought they would stop paying attention to the musical qualities of the song, with everything else they had to focus on. But that’s not what happened; those hundred repetitions really had an impact, and the children’s singing improved far more than I ever anticipated. As a teacher, that was a wonderful realization!
Before sharing their Maps, which I had collected from the students at the end of the last lesson so they wouldn’t lose them, I gave the children their Maps back and had them sing through “I’ve got a Car” a few times to re-familiarize them with their maps, making sure they could follow along themselves before showing them to their peers. 

I scanned each child’s Music Map into the computer, projected it onto the SmartBoard, and had the child who created it come up and present his or her Map, one at a time, while the other students sang and traced along.  

This activity opened up some really great learning opportunities! One girl was afraid to come up and present in front of the entire class, but she learned to conquer her fear and, with a little help and encouragement, did a great job leading everyone through her map. Another boy traced his map and gave another student a great idea for what he might like to add to a Music Map next time; this led to a brief discussion on how Sharing not only helps us learn, it helps us get new ideas and learn from others as well. Another girl traced a zigzag line at the end of her map and realized he had a few to many zigs; we sang that line of the song together a few times and counted exactly how many zigzags were necessary to reflect the way the music sounds. 
All of this led to a few moments of conclusion, once again, with the Engineering Design Process. After Sharing their maps, many of the students had discovered ways they could continue to refine their designs or gotten ideas for entirely new designs which they could use to start the whole process again. The work of creativity is never finished, but it is worth doing, and it is very rewarding. That, more than anything, is what I hope my students take away from their Arts Bridge Adventure.

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