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Chemical Engineering: Improving playdough

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Christine Goonan Christine Goonan 5025 Points

Hi, I am conducting an engineering design project for my second graders in which they will look at a recipe for playdough and improve it to a quality and consistency that they think will work better. I have the recipe but I am grappling with how I assess these second graders. They have already conducted group experiments looking at different states of mater and even mixing vinegar and baking soda to fill a balloon with gas. The goal is to observe if students can come up with a reasonable solution in a recipe test it and revise the recipe with their own discoveries. Students will be working in groups of 4 because of limited space and materials. I am thinking of group assessment on the process and their ability to make observations on the properties of the compound they make any thoughts?

Betty Paulsell Betty Paulsell 48560 Points

Assessment of playdough is going to be very subjective because some students may prefer it to be softer while other students may prefer it to be thicker. I think it would be hard to assess the results. I would rather assess how well they follow the engineering design process as a group.

Michael McCoy Michael McCoy 3165 Points

You may want to assess the process they use. For example, if a group wants their play dough to be more pliant what variable do they want to adjust. If they think adding more oil to the recipe will work then all the other ingredients become constant and they only adjust the amount of oil. Let them present the data they come up with. If you have a group adding more oil and water then you know you need to go over the independent and dependent variables with them again.

Christine Goonan Christine Goonan 5025 Points

Yes if I assess the process I will get a better idea if student understand the independent variables as well and the dependent variables regardless of the quality of the play dough.

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 88583 Points

Hi Christine,
I love your idea! There is a resource in the Learning Center that you might get some additional ideas from:
The Play Dough Evaluation Project
Would love to hear how it case I want to try it.

Adah Stock Adah Stock 101510 Points

Hi: This is an interesting project for 2nd graders. Have you given thought to also have the students self-evaluate their work to see how they are thinking. Adah

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