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.
3D Printing, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and G-Code Basics High School Activity
Published on May 4, 2019
Students learn how 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is revolutionizing the manufacturing process. First, students learn what considerations to make in the engineering design process to print an object with quality and to scale. Students learn the basic principles of how a computer-aided design (CAD) model is converted to a series of data points then turned into a program that operates the 3D printer. The activity takes students through a step-by-step process on how a computer can control a manufacturing process through defined data points. Within this activity, students also learn how to program using basic G-code to create a wireframe 3D shapes that can be read by a 3D printer or computer numerical control (CNC) machine.
Design Air Racer Cars Using Tinkercad Middle School Activity
Published on April 29, 2019
Students use the engineering design process to assemble an electric racer vehicle. After using Tinkercad to design blades for their racers, students print their designs using a MakerBot printer. Once the students finish assembly and install their vehicle’s air blades, they race their vehicles to see which design travels the furthest distance in the least amount of time. A discussion at the end of the activity allows students to reflect on what they learned and to evaluation the engineering design process as a group.
A Sweet Volume: Designing a Jumbo Chocolate Bar Using Polynomials High School Activity
Published on April 25, 2019
Playing the role of engineers in collaborations with the marketing and production teams in a chocolate factory, students design a container for a jumbo chocolate bar. The projects constraints mean the container has to be a regular trapezoidal prism. The design has to optimize the material used to construct the container; that is, students have to find the dimensions of the container with the maximum volume possible. After students come up with their design, teams present a final version of the product that includes creative branding and presentation. The problem-solving portion of this project requires students to find a mathematical process to express the multiple variables in the prism’s volume formula as a single variable cubic polynomial function. Students then use technology to determine the value for which this function has a maximum and, with this value, find the prism’s optimal dimensions.
Design and Test a Ping-Pong Paddle Middle School Activity
Published on March 27, 2019
Emphasizing the design, build, and test steps of the engineering design process, groups create a ping-pong paddle. After building their paddle, students conduct tests and compare their design to a store-bought paddle and use a Venn diagram to organize their information. Based on their results, students write product reviews for their paddle. This project allows students to build and test a design, iterate upon that design as well as explore how data analysis of a product works.
Cooler Design Challenge Middle School Activity
Published on March 26, 2019
Students learn and apply concepts in thermodynamics and energy—mainly convection, conduction, and radiation— to solve a challenge. This is accomplished by splitting students into teams and having them follow the engineering design process to design and build a small insulated box, with the goal of keeping an ice cube and a Popsicle from melting. Students are given a short traditional lecture to help familiarize them with the basic rules of thermodynamics and an introduction to materials science while they continue to monitor the ice within their team’s box.
The Glow Show Slime Engineering Challenge High School Maker Challenge
Published on March 10, 2019
Students learn about the engineering design process and how products may be reinvented to serve new purposes. Working in groups, students design a type of slime. After creating their slime, the teacher turns out the lights and the students see that the slime they made actually glows in the dark! The groups investigate how to take their new discoveries and apply them to industrial applications. Once they have determined a use for their glowing slime, each group must build/design and test their product outside of class. The groups then create advertisements (videos, brochures, performances, etc.) for their new product(s) or application(s), and present to the judges for review similar to a “Shark Tank” environment.
Design Your Own Nano-Polymer Smartphone Case High School Maker Challenge
Published on March 7, 2019
Students 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. Students may apply strings in a variety of ways in order to maximize their individual design’s potential. Determining the best mixing ratio is also key for success in this challenge.
Design a Soundproof Room Elementary School Activity
Published on March 1, 2019
Students are presented with the following challenge: their new school is under construction and the architect accidentally put the music room next to the library. Students need to design a room that will absorb the most amount of sound so that the music does not disturb the library. Students use a box as a proxy for the room need to create a design that will decrease the sound that is coming from the outside of the box. To evaluate this challenge, students use a speaker within the box and a decibel meter outside the box to measure the effectiveness of their design.
Decibels and Acoustical Engineering Elementary School Lesson
Published on March 1, 2019
In this lesson, students learn that sound is energy and has the ability to do work. Students discover that sound is produced by a vibration and they observe soundwaves and how they travel through mediums. They understand that sound can be absorbed, reflected or transmitted. Through associated activities, videos and a PowerPoint presentation led by the teacher, students further their exploration of sound through discussions in order to build background knowledge.
What Soundproofing Material Works Best? Elementary School Activity
Published on March 1, 2019
Students first explore different materials to see what types reduce the most amount of sound when placed in a box. Each group is assigned a different material and they fill their box with that specific material. Students measure the sound level of a tone playing from inside the box using a decibel reader from outside the box. Students share this data with the class and analyze which types of materials absorb the most sound and which reflect the most sound.