We saw Barbara Lee's students working on the Solar House unit
of Project DESIGNS (Doable Engineering Science Investigations
Geared for Non-science Students), a middle school engineering
program developed by the Science Education Department of the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Students began by making a prototype of the solar house using a specific design. They were then challenged to improve the device in some way, such as reducing the cost of its production or increasing the heat gain while working under the limitations of size or weight. The design changes they made were incremental, with a test of the device after each time a variable is changed.
For more information about this and other modules in the DESIGNS project see: