Design Talks: Fostering Whole-Class Conversations During Engineering Design Units

Teacher-facilitated whole-class conversations can help elementary students apply the full power of the NGSS science and engineering practices to an engineering design process. In this article we describe and provide examples for five kinds of Design Talks. Each type of Design Talk centers on a different framing question and is facilitated by specific prompts that help students voice their ideas and make connections to others' ideas. Problem-Scoping Talks provide opportunities for students to identify and scope design problems (NGSS Practice 1) with multiple technical, material, and social considerations. Idea Generation Talks help a whole class collectively generate many design ideas (NGSS Practice 6). Design-in-Progress Talks help students express ideas about why a design performed as it did and consider what its performance means for their next iteration (NGSS Practices 2 and 4). Design Synthesis Talks support students to reason across these designs and synthesize common themes (NGSS Practices 2 and 4). Impact Talks invite students to consider questions like, “should we design this?”, and “who might this solution benefit and who might it harm?” (NGSS Practices 1 and 8). Teachers can implement Design Talks to invite and leverage different student strengths in engineering design, with particular attention to issues of equity and care.

Wendell, K., Watkins, J., Andrews, C., DeLucca, N., Pangan, T., Woodcock, R., Gor, V., Malinowski, M., & Sood, N. (2024). Design talks: Fostering whole-class conversations during engineering design units. Science and Children, 61(1), 64-69.