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Failure: Seeds of Innovation

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Lesson Focus 
Lesson focuses on how failure is part of the engineering process. Students work in teams and learn about many inventions and advances in engineering were brought about after a mistake or failure. Students research an example of such an innovation and develop a presentation related to how the tenacity of the engineer allowed him or her to move past a failure and into the realm of innovation. Students reflect on the value of moving on after a failure or setback, present the results of their research to the class, and provide examples of how the innovation they researched has impacted society -- only because the engineer didn't give up.
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Lesson Synopsis 
The "Failure: Seeds of Innovation" lesson explores how mistakes and failures can often lead to engineering successes and improvements in materials, machines, and systems. Teams explore many examples of how tenacity can lead to innovation, and then research a product, system, or material to determine the many points where mistakes or challenges rose in the way of progress. Teams develop a presentation on their product, how it came to be, and present to the class. Teams also reflect on the experience, and prepare a summary report.

Age Levels:

8
-
18
Objectives 
  • Learn how engineering can help solve society's challenges.
  • Learn about teamwork.
  • Learn about problem solving.
Anticipated Learner Outcomes 
  • As a result of this activity, students should develop an understanding of:
  • innovation
  • engineering
  • teamwork

Lesson Activities

Students explore how mistakes and failures are a part of engineering and explore many examples of how engineers and others created materials, products, and processes after facing a failure or mistake. Students work in teams to research and present about a product, materials, or process -- they explore the people involved, the challenges they faced, and the hurdles that had to be overcome in order to succeed. They present their research to the class, participate in discussions with other teams, and complete a reflection sheet.

  • Teacher Resource Documents (attached)
  • Student Resource Sheet (attached)
  • Student Worksheet (attached)

Alignment to Curriculum Frameworks

Curriculum alignment sheet is included in PDF.

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