Monthly Editor's Pick

preview of 'Stack It Up!' Activity

August 2022

Stack It Up! Activity

Learn how to design an amazing engineering marvel from the ancient world: the pyramid! In this activity, students work in engineering teams to perform calculations to determine the area of the pyramid base, stone block volumes, and the number of blocks required for their pyramid base. Students also make a scaled drawing of the pyramid using graph paper.

preview of 'Make Your Own Temperature Scale' Activity

July 2022

Make Your Own Temperature Scale Activity

What's the difference between temperature and thermal energy? Have your students explore these concept as they use the engineering design process to create thermometers using simple materials and to develop their own scales for measuring temperature. They compare their thermometers to a commercial thermometer, and get a sense for why engineers need to understand the properties of thermal energy.

preview of 'Keep Your Cool! Design Your Own Cooler Challenge' Maker Challenge

June 2022

Keep Your Cool! Design Your Own Cooler Challenge Maker Challenge

Keep cool this summer with a student-driven cooler design! In this activity, students work through the engineering design process and brainstorm a design of their cooler and its attributes. They then choose from the materials provided to create a prototype. Students have the opportunity to test their prototype by measuring the room temperature, the starting temperature of the water and graphing, and monitoring the change in temperature over increments time in comparison to the room temperature water.

preview of 'Design Your Own Nano-Polymer Smartphone Case' Maker Challenge

May 2022

Design Your Own Nano-Polymer Smartphone Case Maker Challenge

Students work through the engineering design process to design and create their own nano-polymer smartphone or tablet case. Students choose their design, mix their nano-polymer (based in silicone) with starch and add coloring of their choice. While thinking critically about their design, students embed strings in the nano-polymer to optimize both case strength and flexibility.

preview of 'Protect Your Body, Filter Your Water!' Activity

April 2022

Protect Your Body, Filter Your Water! Activity

Make sense of the problem of drinking water contamination. In this activity, students explore how substances such as prescription medication, pesticides and hormones are found in municipal drinking water sources. Using chlorine as a proxy for pharmaceuticals found in water, student groups design and test prototype devices that remove the contamination as efficiently and effectively as possible.

preview of 'Sink or Float? Engineering Solutions for a Sticky Situation' Activity

March 2022

Sink or Float? Engineering Solutions for a Sticky Situation Activity

Why do some objects float while others sink? Students make sense of this phenomenon by engaging in the science and engineering practices of asking questions and defining problems, using models, and designing solutions. Students then apply what they discover to solve everyday situations, such as preventing a car from sinking.

preview of 'Element, Mixture, Compound' Activity

February 2022

Element, Mixture, Compound Activity

Element, mixture, or compound? In this classic activity, students gain a better understanding of the different types of materials engineers use, such as pure substances and mixtures. They also learn to distinguish between homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures by discussing an assortment of example materials they use and encounter in their daily lives.

preview of 'Leaning Tower of Pasta' Activity

January 2022

Leaning Tower of Pasta Activity

A classic TeachEngineering activity! Using spaghetti and marshmallows, students experiment with different structures to determine which ones are able to handle the greatest amount of load. Their experiments help them to further understand the effects that compression and tension forces have with respect to the strength of structures

preview of 'Creating an Electromagnet' Activity

December 2021

Creating an Electromagnet Activity

What are the properties of electromagnets? In this activity, students create their own small electromagnets and experiment with ways to change their strength to pick up paper clips. Learn about ways that engineers use electromagnets in everyday applications!

preview of 'Design a Better Bandage' Maker Challenge

November 2021

Design a Better Bandage Maker Challenge

What might make a bandage better? In this challenge, students follow the engineering design process and use water-absorbing crystals to create a bandage that may be used in a traumatic situation, like a car accident or hiking accident. Students first observe how water-absorbing crystals work and then consider how their function could be applied in a medical setting

preview of 'Mathematically Designing a Frictional Roller Coaster ' Activity

October 2021

Mathematically Designing a Frictional Roller Coaster Activity

What can roller coasters teach us about math and physics? In this activity, students apply high school-level differential calculus and physics to the design of two-dimensional roller coasters while considering frictional forces. In a challenge the mirrors real-world engineering, the roller coaster must be made from at least five differentiable functions. Teams build and test small-sized prototype models of the exact designs using foam pipe wrap insulation as the roller coaster track channel and using marbles as the ride "carts."

preview of 'Design a Solar City' Activity

September 2021

Design a Solar City Activity

In a time when creating clean energy is essential to the future health of our planet, engineers are looking for every way possible to produce carbon-free power. In this activity, students design and build a model city powered by the sun! They learn about the benefits of solar power, and how architectural and building engineers integrate photovoltaic panels into the design of buildings.

preview of 'Operation Build a Bridge and Get Over It ' Activity

August 2021

Operation Build a Bridge and Get Over It Activity

Taking on the role of structural engineers. students learn about forces and load distributions as they follow the steps of the engineering design process to design and build small-scale bridges using wooden tongue depressors and glue. Teams brainstorm ideas that meet the size and material design constraints and create prototype bridges of the most promising solutions. They test their bridges to see how much weight they can hold until they break and then determine which have the highest strength-to-weight ratios.

preview of 'Create a Safe Bungee Cord for Washy! ' Activity

July 2021

Create a Safe Bungee Cord for Washy! Activity

What can bungee cords teach us about engineering? Have your students learn about the role engineers might play in developing the perfect bungee cord length by simulating and experimenting with bungee jumping using washers and rubber bands. Students work as if they are engineers for an amusement park in order to develop a show-stopping (and safe) bungee jumping ride!

preview of 'Simple Machines and the Rube Goldberg Challenge' Maker Challenge

June 2021

Simple Machines and the Rube Goldberg Challenge Maker Challenge

In this challenge, students research simple mechanisms as they learn to make Rube Goldberg machines! Working in teams, students use the engineering design process to design and build their own Rube Goldberg devices with 10 separate steps—and they must incorporate the six classic simple machines.

preview of 'Charge It! All About Electrical Attraction and Repulsion' Activity

May 2021

Charge It! All About Electrical Attraction and Repulsion Activity

Engage in the engineering practice of asking questions and use balloons to perform simple experiments to make sense of the phenomena of static electricity and charge polarization! Students attract and repel objects with their charged balloons, and explore the disciplinary core idea of electronic and magnetic forces and the crosscutting concept of cause and effect.

preview of 'Model Greenhouses' Activity

April 2021

Model Greenhouses Activity

Teach about the advantages and disadvantages of the greenhouse effect! In this hands-on activity, students construct their own miniature greenhouses and explore how their designs take advantage of heat transfer processes to create controlled environments. They record and graph measurements, comparing the greenhouse indoor and outdoor temperatures over time. Students also consider global issues such as greenhouse gas emissions and their relationship to global warming.

preview of 'Creative Crash Test Cars' Maker Challenge

March 2021

Creative Crash Test Cars Maker Challenge

How does mass affect momentum in a head-on collision? Challenge your students to design or improve an existing passenger compartment design/feature so that it better withstands front-end collisions, protecting riders from injury and resulting in minimal vehicle structural damage. With a raw egg as the test passenger, teams use teacher-provided building materials to add their own safety features onto either a small-size wooden car kit or their own model cars created from scratch.

preview of 'Testing Model Structures: Jell-O Earthquake in the Classroom' Activity

February 2021

Testing Model Structures: Jell-O Earthquake in the Classroom Activity

Make sense of the design challenges engineers face that arise from earthquakes and related tectonic phenomena! In this activity, students work to design and construct buildings to withstand earthquake damage by applying elements of the engineering design process by building their own model structures using toothpicks and marshmallows.

preview of 'Creating Mini Wastewater Treatment Plants' Activity

January 2021

Creating Mini Wastewater Treatment Plants Activity

Engage in the engineering design process to simulate a wastewater treatment plant! Drawing from assorted materials such as gravel, pebbles, sand, activated charcoal and others, students create filter systems inside 2-liter plastic bottles to clean wastewater made of soap, oil, sand or coffee grounds. Students aim to remove the water contaminants while reclaiming the valuable water resource.

preview of 'A Shot Under Pressure' Activity

December 2020

A Shot Under Pressure Activity

Explore the world of projectile physics and fluid dynamics and have students calculate the water pressure in water guns! By measuring the range of the water jets, students can calculate theoretical pressure. Students create graphs to analyze how the predicted pressure relates to the number of times they pump the water gun before shooting.

preview of 'Element, Mixture, Compound' Activity

November 2020

Element, Mixture, Compound Activity

How can we distinguish between compounds, elements, and mixtures? Gain a better understanding of the different types of materials as pure substances and mixtures and have students identify the differences between homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures. In this activity, students discuss an assortment of example materials they use and encounter in their daily lives.

preview of 'Make a Sticky-Note Fan with Arduino' Maker Challenge

October 2020

Make a Sticky-Note Fan with Arduino Maker Challenge

All sorts of real-world devices—ranging from toys to large industrial tools—use electric motors. In this maker project, students design their own systems using little motors and learn how to control them using Arduino microcontrollers. Learning how to use microcontrollers correctly to control motors is the first step to using motors in all types of projects!

preview of 'Soil from Spoiled: Engineering a Compost Habitat for Worms' Activity

September 2020

Soil from Spoiled: Engineering a Compost Habitat for Worms Activity

A unique activity for young learners that combines engineering and biology, students design an optimal environment for red wiggler worms in a compost bin using the engineering design process. Students learn about living and non-living things, the habitat of red wigglers, how red wigglers help convert organic waste into soil, as well as composting in nature and as a sustainable practice.

preview of 'Keep Your Cool! Design Your Own Cooler Challenge' Maker Challenge

August 2020

Keep Your Cool! Design Your Own Cooler Challenge Maker Challenge

Engage students in this refreshing summer project that focuses on design thinking! In this challenge, students prototype an ice cooler and monitor the effectiveness of its ability to keep a bottle of ice water cold in comparison to a bottle of ice water left at room temperature. Along with engaging in the engineering design process, students assess the effectiveness of their cooler by measuring the room temperature, the starting temperature of the water and graphing and monitoring the change in temperature over time.

preview of 'Prodigious Printing Possibilities ' Activity

July 2020

Prodigious Printing Possibilities Activity

3D printing (or additive manufacturing) is transforming the way engineers design, prototype, and build. Engage your students with this unique introduction to the mechanics of 3D printing as they transform into engineers and they work in teams to carry out a 3D printing task. Their mission: "print" using a blunt-tip needle syringe and a variety of colored liquid materials (shampoo, conditioner, aloe, and hand sanitizer) into a small plastic box filled with a gel base.

preview of 'Toxic Island: Designing Devices to Deliver Goods' Maker Challenge

June 2020

Toxic Island: Designing Devices to Deliver Goods Maker Challenge

A classic engineering challenge involves designing and building devices that can deliver necessary goods to “Toxic Island,” an island that has been quarantined by the World Health Organization due to a nasty outbreak of disease. In this maker challenge, students design a device that must not touch the water or the island, and must deliver supplies accurately... and quickly!

preview of 'Insulation Materials Investigation' Activity

May 2020

Insulation Materials Investigation Activity

Engineers design thermal insulation for countless products and purposes, including pipe installations, shipping and handling for food and beverages, space travel, and even our clothing! In this activity, students learn about the role that thermal insulation materials can play in reducing heat transfer by conduction, convection and radiation, as well as the design and implementation of insulating materials in construction and engineering.

preview of 'The Dirty Water Project: Design-Build-Test Your Own Water Filters' Activity

April 2020

The Dirty Water Project: Design-Build-Test Your Own Water Filters Activity

Create and test a water filter at home! This hands-on activity allows students to investigate different methods for removing pollutants from water, including aeration and filtration. Have your students design, build, and test their own filter prototypes by conducting their own "dirty water projects."

preview of 'Out-of-the Box: A Furniture Design + Engineering Challenge ' Maker Challenge

March 2020

Out-of-the Box: A Furniture Design + Engineering Challenge Maker Challenge

Engage students in a unique approach to engineering and aesthetics with cardboard furniture designs! Challenge students to design and build architecturally inspired cardboard furniture, cultivate their industrial engineering and design skills, and allow them to explore how to meet functional, aesthetic and financial requirements of a given plan. Let form follow function!

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