A newfound respect for the LEGO team

Procedural Thinking:  Writing Clear Directions!

The ability to create and follow clear, ordered plans is useful in many aspects of life. However, being able to provide a detailed, precise plan that others can follow can be challenging.  A plan that contains all the information needed to replicate an experiment includes three parts: a list of materials needed, a set of instructions on how to use these materials, and descriptions of the intermediate results.

In today’s activity, students got the chance to practice giving precise instructions.  Each student received a bag containing two identical sets of construction blocks.  Using one set of the colorful construction blocks, students were given 10 minutes to build a creation of their choosing and write a set of instructions detailing each step of the building process.  The purpose of this was for each student to write down instructions that are detailed enough so that others could replicate their models.  Once the students were done building and writing, they passed their instructions and blocks on to classmates to build by following the directions. Afterwards they compared the originals to the recreations and were able to see how more detailed and precise instructions had led to more accurate results.

As a class we talked about ways students could improve their directions to make it easier for another person to follow.  Using precise locations, like centered or on the left, and specific shapes, colors and sizes to identify pieces were some of the ideas that students came up with to help improve their directions.

 

IMG_20150413_084945

Author

Dr. Maureen Griffin

Maureen earned a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. While at Penn, she developed a novel micro-mechanical technique called micropipette peeling to investigate the role of muscle cell adhesion in normal and diseased skeletal muscle cells. After graduating, Maureen worked full time as a post-doctoral researcher and then a staff scientist a SelectX Pharmaceuticals. She joined the teaching staff in 2008 and was excited to be made an executive staff member in 2009. Maureen also continued to consult part time for SelectX until her daughter's birth in 2009; now she is focused on Science from Scientists and, of course, her children. Maureen uses her spare time to read, blog, cook, and renovate her house.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.