CCSS: Practical STEM Strategies

Strategy: Ask the question, “Why is this an Important Design Problem?” and help support Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The purpose of the Engineering Design Process is to solve a design problem. It is important for students to think about why their design problem is important.

After determining a design problem, I ask, “Why is this an important design problem?” To answer, students read a source, complete an advanced organizer as they read, and write a 3-5 sentence summary with citations. Below is an example of the advanced organizer and Molly’s submission.

Read the article and find out why designing a wind turbine is an important design problem. Use the following table to help organize your answers.

Quote/Fact Source


By Molly M

A wind turbine is an important design problem because it can solve society’s problem of relying on coal for our electricity.  Coal is a non renewable electricity source, so in about 100 to 180 years coal will run out. A wind turbine harnesses wind energy which is renewable, allowing it to always be in use for society.  Surprisingly, 93 percent of coal is used to generate electricity, so if society could slowly move to using a wind turbine, we wouldn’t be so dependent on just coal.   Coal is also very harmful towards the environment.  For example “When SO2 combines with moisture in the atmosphere, it produces acid rain that can harm forests and lakes,” (U.S. Energy Information Administration, pg 1).  Using a wind turbine would cause less pollution and not have toxic chemicals going into the atmosphere.  A wind turbine could be a solution to a future energy crisis.

“Coal Prices And Outlook.” – Energy Explained, Your Guide To Understanding Energy. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <>

Look at Molly’s paragraph under the lens of CCSS. Analyze her work looking at some of the standards.

  • Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions. 
  • Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6—8 texts and topics. 
  • Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text. 
  • By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 6—8 text complexity band independently and proficiently. 
  • Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
  • Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).


One of the benefits of using this strategy is the learning is so easy to assess. I give the students the article so I know what is in there. The advanced organizer has more than enough facts to support a claim. I can use it to formatively assess their reading. In the submission, the students have ownership of their claim because they choose the facts they feel best support the claim. If I want to differentiate, I ask the students to find a different article that will help them answer the question, “Why is this an important design problem.”

This is one easy strategy for using CCSS to help students understand the Engineering Design Process.



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