Soil from Spoiled: Engineering a Compost Habitat for Worms Elementary School Activity
Published on October 26, 2019
A unique activity for young learners that combines engineering and biology, students design an optimal environment for red wiggler worms in a compost bin. 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.
Whatever Floats Your Boat! High School Maker Challenge
Published on October 15, 2019
For this challenge, students use a variety of common office and household supplies to design a boat. Their goal: to not only have the fastest boat, but to also take into account how much mass (or “cargo”) the boat can carry, the stability of the boat in the water, the total mass of the boat, boat aesthetics, and how much it “costs” to construct. A fan supplies wind and propels each boat down the lane of a small pool. Students brainstorm ideas with their teams, design and test their boats, redesign, and then retest to make the boats as efficient as possible.
Toxic Island: Designing Devices to Deliver Goods Middle School Maker Challenge
Published on October 15, 2019
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. Working within specific constraints, students design a device that must not touch the water or island, and must deliver supplies accurately and quickly. Students also must design their delivery systems by choosing from a limited number of materials. Students follow the engineering design challenge to brainstorm and create designs, as well as test and iterate on their prototypes.
Making Drinking Water Drinkable! High School Maker Challenge
Published on October 15, 2019
Access to clean water is a major problem we face in the world today, especially in developing countries and during, and in the aftermath of, natural disasters. Currently, there is a portable water purification device called the LifeSaver bottle that can bring clean water to people; however, it is too expensive for most individuals. In this maker challenge, students create a water bottle from commonly available materials used in purification tools that can assist in cleaning dirty water as an inexpensive alternative to the LifeSaver Bottle.
Having a Ball with Chemistry and Engineering High School Maker Challenge
Published on October 14, 2019
Students work as materials and chemical engineers to develop a bouncy ball using a select number of materials. They first develop a plan of what materials they might need to design their product. Then, the students create and test their bouncy ball. Based on their tests, students then determine how to re-design and retest their creations to create the bounciest ball possible!
Trigonometric Functions in My Heart: Modeling PPG Pulses with Basic Trigonometric Functions High School Activity
Published on September 30, 2019
Students learn that trigonometric functions can model how their hearts work and can provide important information about their cardiovascular condition. Students analyze their own photoplethysmogram (PPG) obtained from a fingertip pulse oximeter. Using a graphic user interface (GUI) developed in Microsoft Excel, students visualize a linear combination of sine functions to their PPG data. Once they obtain the best possible fit, students can use the GUI to determine important information about their hearts such as cardiac period and pulse interval.
Engineering Silver Nanoparticles High School Activity
Published on September 25, 2019
Engineering silver nanoparticles for use in water filters has shown promising results in keeping water free of disinfection byproducts that arise after chlorination. In this activity, the students do individual research to learn about nanotechnology and silver nanoparticles, and how silver nanoparticles can be used in water treatment. Students choose a plant of their choice (from home, school, or from the teacher) to use as an agent to reduce silver nitrate into silver nanoparticles. They retest with a different plant or change the procedure to see if they can improve their chances at engineering nanoparticles.
Bacteria! It’s Everywhere! Elementary School Activity
Published on September 20, 2019
By playing the role of biochemical engineers, students investigate what causes them to become sick during the school year. Students use the engineering design process to test the classroom lab spaces for bacteria. After their tests, they develop ideas to control the spread of germs within the classroom. Finally, students develop a protocol to keep the spread of germs to a minimum for the school year.
Watching Paint Dry High School Activity
Published on September 18, 2019
Students take on the task of designing a container that holds exactly one spritz of water from a spray bottle. They measure the mass of the collected liquid, or spritz, and calculate how long it takes for the water to vaporize using a formula for an experimental rate of evaporation. After understanding the rate of evaporation, students iterate their designs and practice dimensional analysis to further analyze their data.
Engineering Self-Cleaning Hydrophobic Surfaces High School Maker Challenge
Published on August 29, 2019
This biomimetic engineering challenge introduces students to the fields of nanotechnology and biomimicry. Students explore how to modify surfaces such as wood or cotton fabric at the nanoscale. They create specialized materials with features such as waterproofing and stain resistance. The challenge starts with student teams identifying an intended user and developing scenarios for using their developed material. Students then design and create their specialized material using everyday materials. Each students test each design under specific testing constraints to determine the hydrophobicity of the material. After testing, teams iterate ways to improve their self-cleaning superhydrophobic modification technique for their design. After iterating and testing their designs, students present their final product and results to the class.
Designing Polymers to Clean Water Middle School Activity
Published on August 28, 2019
Students learn the concept behind the engineering design of a polymer brush—a coating consisting of polymers that is “tethered” to a particular surface. Polymer brushes can be used on water filtration membranes as an antifouling coating. After designing a model that represents an antifouling polymer brush coating for a water filtration surface, students take on the challenge to engineer their brush design on the surface of a Styrofoam block (which serves as a model for a surface filter) using various materials.
Stop the Flopping: Designing Soccer Shin Guards High School Maker Challenge
Published on August 8, 2019
Students engineer a working pair of shin guards for soccer or similar contact sport from everyday materials. Since many factors go into the design of a shin guard, students follow the Engineering Design Process to create a prototype. Along the way, students keep a notebook documenting each stage of the process and reflect on what they learned during the design.
Water Use and Conservation: Data Analysis for Central Tendency High School Activity
Published on August 1, 2019
Students collect a large set of data (approximately 60 sets) of individual student’s water use and learn how to use spreadsheets to graph the data and find mean, median, mode, and range. They compared their findings to the national average of water use per person per day and use it to evaluate how much water a municipality would need in the event of a recovery from a water shutdown. This analysis activity introduces students to the concept of central tendencies and how to use spreadsheets to find them.
Keep Your Cool! Design Your Own Cooler Challenge Middle School Maker Challenge
Published on July 30, 2019
Students design a 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. Students have the opportunity to brainstorm a design of their cooler and its attributes. They then choose from the materials provided to create a prototype. They 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.
Bouncy Ball Factory Middle School Maker Challenge
Published on July 30, 2019
Students become product engineers in a bouncy ball factory as they design and prototype a polymer bouncy ball that meets specific requirements: must be spherical in shape, cannot disintegrate when thrown on the ground, and, of course, must bounce. Along with these design elements, students can build (with teacher assistance) a “shadow box” that helps measure the contact angle of the polymer that provides data on how to iterate. In addition, students must consider the aesthetics of their bouncy balls for customer approval and marketing purposes. Using the engineering design process, students design and create bouncy balls from polymers to create a fun, exciting toy for children.