Design and Engineer Your Own Wearable

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    Students practice the engineering design process to address a relevant need in their social environment with impactful technology. Students identify a need and derive appropriate design criteria to inform their design. 


    • Students will be able to:
    • Identify user needs and translate them into design needs
    • Use and understand the design process
    • Design a device with both hardware and software
    • Choose methods for processing data, e.g. count steps
    • Iterate and improve design solutions
    • Improve problem-solving and communication skills

    Required Prior Knowledge:

    Basic familiarity with the engineering design process is of help but not required.


    • STEMgem kit (with sensors for motion, temperature, heart rate, etc.)
    • Internet-capable device for programming (e.g. tablet, laptop, large enough phone)
    • Optional: more ribbon, scissors, markers, modeling clay



    Ice Breakers

    Instructors: introduce with name and hobby
    Students introduce themselves by name and share favorite hobby

    Introduction / Direct Instruction

    What does everyone think about Fitbit, Apple Watch, etc.? Opinions, observations
    Intro to toolkit, example 1: show text on display (see guidebook for detailed instructions)
    Intro to toolkit, example 2: connect a sensor & make an app that shows a live graph

    Breakout Session / Design and Making

    Identify a need (start with students' hobby, sport, family, people students care about) - give examples if needed. First make sure at least 5 different ideas are discussed in class, then ask students to form groups of 2-4 to find more and record ideas in their design notebook (if available).
    Brainstorm solutions in groups (design notebook if available)
    Define design criteria (up to 3; design notebook if available)
    Make! Remind students it's an iterative process with intermediate testing and adjusting. Make sure they keep the user (and the impact of their creation) in mind and they work on the physical shape and appearance as well as technological concepts.

    At the end of the hands-on making, students evaluate their creations against design objectives set out previously.
    At the end of the hands-on making, students evaluate their creations against design objectives set out previously.



    Evaluate creation against design criteria recorded earlier. Students select appropriate tools for capturing and sharing reflections, e.g. in writing, videos, images, sketches.
    Reflect how this influences usability among intended end users.
    Next steps: what's still to do, how can the design be improved?


    Discuss in groups of 2-4, critique and encourage. Make clear that the goal is to receive helpful input and record bullet points in design notebook.
    Every student briefly presents to the class what they have made, what their vision was, and how they will add to it in the future.


    Students use worksheets to evaluate their progress towards relevant State standards or NGSS learning goals.

    Take-Home Assignment:

    Students document their design process and result in writing and using photos and videos they took in a digital design journal on


    SEPS.1 Posing questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering).
    SEPS.2 Developing and using models and tools.
    SEPS.3 Constructing and performing investigations.
    SEPS.4 Analyzing and interpreting data.
    SEPS.5 Using mathematics and computational thinking.
    SEPS.6 Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering).
    SEPS.7 Engaging in argument from evidence.
    SEPS.8 Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.
    MS-ETS1 Engineering Design
    Data and Information
    Computing Devices and Systems
    Programs and Algorithms
    Impact and Culture
    Networking and Communication
    General Technological Concepts
    Developing / Engineering Technology
    Assessing Technological Actions
    Producing / Using Technology
    Crosscutting Concepts
    Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World

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