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 their 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.
Sea Turtle Eggs: Washed to Sea? Elementary School Activity
Published on July 24, 2019
Students employ the full engineering design process to research and design prototypes that could be used to solve the loss of sea turtle life during a hurricane. During Hurricane Irma, Florida lost a large proportion of its sea turtle nests. Protecting these nests from natural disasters or even human influence is an essential component of conservation in Florida, since only one hatchling in every thousand survives to adulthood. In this activity, students learn about sea turtle nesting behaviors and environmental impacts of hurricanes. Students work collaboratively to build structures that could protect a single sea turtle nest, or an entire beach, in the event of a hurricane or other similar weather disaster. Then, students present their solutions to concerned stakeholders. As an optional extension, students can build prototypes using 3D printers or 3D pens.
Monumental Movements Elementary School Lesson
Published on July 3, 2019
Students learn some of the implications of 3D printing in the biomedical field. Unlike 3D printers used in a classroom or by consumers, which use a plastic filament to produce a product, 3D printing for medical purposes is often with real living cells. In this lesson, students gain an understanding of how 3D printing is changing lives for the better through a presentation and group discussion. In the corresponding activity, they have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on simulation of a real-world 3D printing task.
Prodigious Printing Possibilities Elementary School Activity
Published on July 3, 2019
This activity is designed to give students an understanding of one aspect of what an engineer does and the ability to experience various steps in the engineering design process as it relates to a 3D printing task. Students transform into engineers as they work in teams to carry out a 3D printing task by using a blunt-tip needle syringe to print a line using a variety of colored liquid materials (shampoo, conditioner, aloe, and hand sanitizer) into a small plastic box filled with a gel base. Approximating the work of engineers, the teams observe the interactions between the printed material and the gel base at intervals of 10 minutes and iterate, or change, the ink base as necessary to achieve a goal. Using the dye to color the ink allows students to determine which material will permeate or diffuse throughout the base more effectively. Teams share their results to compare with their classmates. A real-world application for this investigation would be when engineers conduct research to develop new medicines, the goal is for the medicine to make its way through the body in the most effective way so that the body can heal.
Naturally Organized Elementary School Activity
Published on July 1, 2019
Students work in teams to design a tabletop supply organizer inspired by the natural home of an insect species. Their prototype stores the group’s classroom supplies (scissors, crayon boxes, pencils, and glue sticks). In addition to following measurement constraints that apply to their prototype, students must design their supply organizer with the idea that supplies must be easily retrievable and the organizer must be sturdy enough to withstand everyday classroom wear and tear. Students test their prototype in the classroom for a period of 5 days and evaluate its effectiveness.
Be “Cool” with Popsicle Engineering Elementary School Activity
Published on June 18, 2019
Beginning kindergarteners are introduced to science and engineering concepts through questions such as “What is a Scientist?” and “What is an Engineer?”, and go on to compare and contrast the two. They are introduced to five steps of the engineering design process and explore these steps using the “I do, we do, you do” set of guided instruction. At the end of the project, students produce a set of purple popsicles that they design using various materials and by following a set of criteria.
Trebuchet Design & Build Challenge Middle School Activity
Published on June 13, 2019
In this activity, students explore how trebuchets were used during the Middle Ages to launch projectiles over or through castle walls as well as how they are used today in events such as Punkin’ Chunkin’. Students work as teams of engineers and research how to design and build their own trebuchets from scratch while following a select number of constraints. They test their trebuchets, evaluate their results through several quantitative analyses, and present their results and design process to the class.
Engineering the Perfect Gummy Candy Middle School Activity
Published on May 30, 2019
Students use a recipe to prepare a hydrogel gummy snack, which has a similar consistency to that found in a Haribo® gummy product. They must convert the juice and gelatin-based recipe from US customary units to metric units with dimensional analysis conversion. After unit conversion, teams are given different gelatin quantities and design their gummy snacks. Once the candies have solidified, student groups compare the gummy snacks are for viscosity and taste. After a taste test, teams reflect on their experiment and brainstorm ways to iterate a better gummy recipe.
Engineering a Habitat’s Humidity Elementary School Activity
Published on May 24, 2019
Students design a temporary habitat for a future classroom pet—a hingeback tortoise. Based on their background research, students identify what type of environment this tortoise needs and how to recreate that environment in the classroom. The students divide into groups and investigate the features of a habitat for a hingeback tortoise. These features include how many holes a temporary habitat may need, the animal’s ideal type of bedding, and how much water is needed to create the necessary humidity level within the tortoise’s environment. Each group communicates and presents this information to the rest of the class after they research, brainstorm, collect and analyze data, and design their final plan.
Engineering in the World of Dr. Seuss Elementary School Activity
Published on May 10, 2019
Students are introduced to the engineering design process within the context of reading Dr. Seuss’s book, Bartholomew and the Oobleck. To do so, students study a sample of aloe vera gel (representing the oobleck) in lab groups. After analyzing the substance, they use the engineering design process to develop and test other substances in order to make it easier for rain to wash away the oobleck. Students must work within a set of constraints outlined within the Seuss book and throughout the activity and use only substances available within the context of the plot. Students also take into consideration the financial and environmental costs associated with each substance.