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Engineer a Mining Technique Model

School: Sierra Expeditionary Learning School

City/State: Truckee, CA

Grade(s): 4, 5

Format(s): Children's book: Coloring, Visual arts

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Science and Technology, Visual Arts

Project Overview

After learning about the various mining techniques used during and after the California Gold Rush, students are asked to engineer a final product of a technical drawing and working model that exhibits a solid understanding of a particular mining type. The students are asked to use to-scale drawings with revisions and peer critiques, as well as use technical drawing elements of line, shape, proportion/perspective, light, and shadow. After completion of the drawing, the students then collaborate in groups to engineer a 3 dimensional model of that particular mining type.

1. What was compelling for your students about this?

Students enjoyed researching various types of mining techniques, then researching the elements of technical drawing, and applying their learning to their own interpretation of a technical drawing. Students learned about the positive and negative impacts of mining, and wrote an informational piece on their mining type to accompany the drawing. Finally, students applied learning of mining types by engineering a physical model of their mining type. 

2. What were the challenges?

Challenges that we found in the development of this product were to gather various materials for all model groups, and ensure that the technical drawings were designed to scale.

3. What makes this particular piece a model for other students?

Students can learn about historical engineering practices over the course of time via the historical concepts they are studying, and then compare them to local current engineering practices. Students used information from multiple peer reviews and conferences with the teacher to inform their learning and production. Students in other regions of historical significance can apply this project to the area they live in. This product is a nice marriage of engineering/ building, and historical concepts.

4. What would be your advice to a teacher that is inspired by this project?

Thoroughly investigate local tools and engineering practices that were used historically that are related to your topic, and then research their significance. Allow students to engage in research on that topic, and then, by following the technical drawing principles, scaffold the project for multiple drafts with feedback. Finally, take the drawing from paper to the physical by having the students build and test a working model.

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How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Complex project connecting important learning from multiple disciplines in one project.
  • Exceptional technical drawings.
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