The mini-task my students have undertaken is centered around the following PE: 08-ESS3-2. Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects. Previous to what I am about to describe the students completed an infographic on a particular Natural Hazard of their choosing. Students were looking at data and developed this infographic to help inform people about the likelihood of another occurrence. Part of that was a Google Hangout with an earthquake specialist out of Colorado who helped talk with students about forecasting earthquakes.

In this mini-task (phenomena was damage from natural hazards) the students were asked to look at current technologies (warning plans, prevention, detection, recovery and so on) to help mitigate the effects of the Natural Hazard they had investigated. Once they have done research, they were asked to make an innovation and predict where the technology might be in 20 years. Students are in the process of developing a model (could be a physical model or could be a technical drawing). We are not done with this mini-task yet but some of the ideas are pretty darn interesting they are coming up.

Example: A student is investigating avalanches. She has proposed to develop a wrist band that would be handed out to all skiers by a ski resort. This wrist band would have GPS tech embedded in it with the capability to receive text alerts from the resort. The resort would be able to track all skiers in case of an avalanche, warn the skiers, and if rescue is needed, help pinpoint with better accuracy where the skiers were when the avalanche hit.

Example: A student is investigating hurricanes. He was very interested in the hurricane hunter planes and found out they drop on average 30 sensor packages per storm. He found out they were a one use tool and thought that was wasteful so for his innovation, he is looking to make them recoverable and waterproof.

My question at this point, does this mini-task embrace the 3 Dimensional approach NGSS asks for in the teaching? My thoughts are this: Are the students learning content? Sure. Are they engaging in the Science and Engineering Practices? They are asking questions, developing models, analyzing data, designing solutions, and engaging in arguments from evidence. Are they engaging in the Cross Cutting Concepts? They have to look at Cause and Effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity and Systems and System models.

I really want to make this task work. It has grabbed their attention and I have student buy in on this one. What do you all think? Good, bad, ugly? What could be done to improve it?