Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Using GSuite to Teach the Engineering Design Process (Part 2)

Part 1 - Engineering Habits of Mind and the Design Process
Part 2 - How GSuite Supports the Engineering Design Process
Part 3 - A Simple Design Challenge using GSuite  (includes example GSuite docs)

How GSuite Supports the Engineering Design Process

As students confront complex problems, GSuite provides a great toolkit for working through the engineering design process. The animation below shows how Google tools can support each step.

You'll see all of these in action in part 3, so here's a quick overview of each tool and its role.

Google Docs

Docs is the perfect tool for problem identification, solution brainstorming, and design selection.
With the ability to collaborate with other members of their team, the use of the "Explore" feature to find endless ideas to spark creativity, and the comments feature to discuss final design selection, Docs becomes the central hub of the group's planning process.


Okay, so it's not technically a Google tool anymore (Google sold it to Trimble back in 2012...here's why if you're interested), but I still have a hard time not thinking of SketchUp and Google as being linked. Google used it for about 6 years to model buildings in Google Earth until they found a better way, then sold SketchUp and moved on. 

However, with the recently announced "SketchUp for Schools Beta," schools using GSuite for Education will have access to the web-based version of Sketchup for FREE. So yes, throw the penalty flag on the inclusion of this not-technically-Google tool, but the GSuite integration lets me slide it in here with only a mild prick of conscience. :) 

Sketchup is powerful 3D modeling software that lets student design models and prototypes quickly with a small learning curve. Couple that with a promise of 3D printing ability coming soon, and SketchUp becomes an amazing tool for rapid prototyping during the EDP.

Yes, you can even build dinosaurs with SketchUp

Google Sheets

When students test their design and then work to optimize it, they have to have data. Data tells them whether or not the modifications they've made to their design have improved it or made it worse. It becomes even more powerful they have access to the data set of the entire class, which lets them compare designs and share ideas as they optimize their own work. A shared class spreadsheet is the perfect way to gather everyone's data in one place for comparison and discussion.

Google Forms

Depending on the design and ultimate end user, part of the optimization process is user feedback. With Forms, groups can create quick surveys to get feedback from classmates, teachers, and industry professionals on how they can improve their design.

Google Slides

When all the brainstorming, building, testing, and optimizing is finished, it's time to share. The ability to insert images and video into Slides lets student communicate not only their end result, but also lessons learned throughout the design process. When presentation time comes, it's also pretty handy to have one class presentation that everyone has put their work in instead of countless separate ones.

With that general outline in mind, let's take a look at a simple engineering design challenge and how these Google tools support the process.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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