The engineering design process emphasizes open-ended problem solving and encourages students to learn from failure. This process nurtures students’ abilities to create innovative solutions to challenges in any subject!
Engineering Design-Aligned Curriculum
The TeachEngineering hands-on activities featured here, by grade band, exemplify the engineering design process.
- Be “Cool” with Popsicle Engineering
Be “Cool” with Popsicle Engineering
Create popsicles using the engineering design process! In this activity, students work to solve the problems of a local popsicle shop while learning how scientific and engineering concepts play a part in behind-the-scenes design.
- Invent a Backscratcher from Everyday Materials
Invent a Backscratcher from Everyday Materials
Given scrap cardboard, paper towel tubes, scissors, and glue, how could a student invent their own backscratcher? Engage in the process of how real engineers design products to meet a desired function.
- Naturally Organized
Design a customized table top supply organizer inspired by the natural home of a ladybug—or any other insect of a student's choosing—to hold all of their classroom supplies! By the end of this activity, students will understand the properties of biomimicry and the engineering design process.
- Straw Towers to the Moon
Straw Towers to the Moon
Students learn about civil engineers and work through each step of the engineering design process in two mini-activities that prepare them for a culminating challenge to design and build the tallest straw tower possible, given limited time and resources. In the culminating challenge (tallest straw t...
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- Engineering a Mountain Rescue Litter
Engineering a Mountain Rescue Litter
When a person gets injured in the wilderness and needs medical attention, rescuers might use a device called a mountain rescue litter specifically designed for difficult evacuations. Design and build a small-sized prototype to save some (potatoes’) lives!
- Biodomes Engineering Design Project: Lessons 2-6
Biodomes Engineering Design Project: Lessons 2-6
In this multi-day activity, students explore environments, ecosystems, energy flow and organism interactions by creating a scale model biodome, following the steps of the engineering design process.
- Exploring Variables While Testing & Improving Mint-Mobiles (for Elementary School)
Exploring Variables While Testing & Improving Mint-Mobiles (for Elementary School)
Build a model race car out of lifesaver candies, popsicle sticks, straws, and other fun materials! Have students learn about independent, dependent, and control variables, and find out who can make the fastest car given their new knowledge.
- Water Bottle Rockets
Water Bottle Rockets
Students are challenged to design and build rockets from two-liter plastic soda bottles that travel as far and straight as possible or stay aloft as long as possible. Guided by the steps of the engineering design process, students first watch a video that shows rocket launch failures and then partic...
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- Saving a Life: Heart Valve Replacement
Saving a Life: Heart Valve Replacement
Students use their knowledge about how healthy heart valves function to design, construct and implant prototype replacement mitral valves for hypothetical patients' hearts. Building on what they learned in the associated lesson about artificial heart valves, combined with the testing and scoring of ...
- Clay Boats
Students use a small quantity of modeling clay to make boats that float in a tub of water. The object is to build boats that hold as much weight as possible without sinking. In the process of designing and testing their prototype creations, students discover some of the basic principles of boat desi...
- Amusement Park Ride: Ups and Downs in Design
Amusement Park Ride: Ups and Downs in Design
Students design, build and test looping model roller coasters using foam pipe insulation tubing. They learn about potential and kinetic energy as they test and evaluate designs, addressing the task as if they are engineers. Winning designs have the lowest cost and best aesthetics. Three student work...
- Creative Crash Test Cars
Creative Crash Test Cars
Students explore how mass affects momentum in head-on collisions and experience the engineering design process as if they are engineers working on the next big safety feature for passenger cars. They design, create and redesign impact-resistant passenger vehicle compartments for small-size model car...
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- Convertible Shoes: Function, Fashion and Design
Convertible Shoes: Function, Fashion and Design
Student teams design and build shoe prototypes that convert between high heels and athletic shoes. They apply their knowledge about the mechanics of walking and running as well as shoe design (as learned in the associated lesson) to design a multifunctional shoe that is both fashionable and function...
- Building Arduino Light Sculptures
Building Arduino Light Sculptures
Students gain practice in Arduino fundamentals as they design their own small-sized prototype light sculptures to light up a hypothetical courtyard. They program Arduino microcontrollers to control the lighting behavior of at least three light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to create imaginative light displ...
- Solar Water: Heat it Up!
Solar Water: Heat it Up!
Students explore energy efficiency, focusing on renewable energy, by designing and building flat-plate solar water heaters. They calculate the efficiency of the solar water heaters during initial and final tests and compare the efficiencies to those of models currently sold on the market (requiring ...
- Boom Construction
Student teams design their own booms (bridges) and engage in a friendly competition with other teams to test their designs. Each team strives to design a boom that is light, can hold a certain amount of weight, and is affordable to build.
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