Genetic Variations Birdhouse Project (2016)

NGSS Standard: MS-LS1-5; MS-ETS1-3


Science and Engineering Practices: Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions


Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect 


Year Created: 2016


Phenomena: None explicit: in the future, I can show pictures of various sized birdhouses or make connections to various flower shapes


Reflection: This project was created as a way to integrate the engineering standards into the life science curriculum. I thought of the idea while at a conference at Northwestern University where we worked through the process of thinking of an idea for a challenging standard. If I were to do this project again, I would change the following: 

  • Include explicit explanations of criteria and constraints for the project. 
  • Ask students to make more explicit connections to the science standard. While students had a lot of fun making their birdhouses, it was not clear that they really understood the process of evolution and how an organism's environment shapes and animal's behaviors and traits. 
  • Include time for redesign after giving and receiving feedback from other groups. 

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