In this engineering, math, and sustainability project students answer the question, “Can I ride 53 miles on a bike from the energy of a single burrito?” They must define their variables, collect and analyze their data, and present their results. By the end of this project, developed by Allen Distinguished Educator Mike Wierusz, students should have all the information they need to design a burrito that would provide them with the exact caloric content necessary to ride 53 miles.
How can you use the Engineering Design Process to access a geographically inaccessible location to deliver supplies?
Students will plan and design an imaginary organism that lives in the Temperate Deciduous Forest, Tropical Rainforest, or Desert. Students will then identify three adaptations of this animal, and determine how the adaptations of that animal may respond to a change in the ecosystem.
Students design, build and test model roller coasters using foam tubing. The design process integrates energy concepts as they test and evaluate designs that address the task as an engineer would. The goal is for students to understand the basics of engineering design associated with kinetic and potential energy to build an optimal roller coaster. The marble starts with potential energy that is converted to kinetic energy as it moves along the track. The diameter of the loops that the marble traverses without falling out depends on the kinetic energy obtained by the marble.
Through this earth science curricular unit, student teams are presented with the scenario that an asteroid will impact the Earth. In response, their challenge is to design the location and size of underground caverns to shelter the people from an uninhabitable Earth for one year. Driven by this adventure scenario, student teams 1) explore general and geological maps of their fictional state called Alabraska, 2) determine the area of their classroom to help determine the necessary cavern size, 3) learn about map scales, 4) test rocks, 5) identify important and not-so-important rock properties for underground caverns, and 6) choose a final location and size.
Students learn more about assistive devices, specifically biomedical engineering applied to computer engineering concepts, with an engineering challenge to create an automatic floor cleaner computer program. Following the steps of the design process, they design computer programs and test them by programming a simulated robot vacuum cleaner (a LEGO® robot) to move in designated patterns. Successful programs meet all the design requirements.
Students groups use balsa wood and glue to build their own towers using some of the techniques they learned from the associated lesson. While general guidelines are provided, give students freedom with their designs and encourage them to implement what they have learned about structural engineering. The winning team design is the tower with the highest strength-to-weight ratio.
Students examine the structure and function of the human eye, learning some amazing features about our eyes, which provide us with sight and an understanding of our surroundings. Students also learn about some common eye problems and the biomedical devices and medical procedures that resolve or help to lessen the effects of these vision deficiencies, including vision correction surgery.
Human beings are fascinating and complex living organisms a symphony of different functional systems working in concert. Through a 10-lesson series with hands-on activities students are introduced to seven systems of the human body skeletal, muscular, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, sensory, and reproductive as well as genetics. At every stage, they are also introduced to engineers' creative, real-world involvement in caring for the human body.
Students design and build devices to protect and accurately deliver dropped eggs. The devices and their contents represent care packages that must be safely delivered to people in a disaster area with no road access. Similar to engineering design teams, students design their devices using a number of requirements and constraints such as limited supplies and time. The activity emphasizes the change from potential energy to kinetic energy of the devices and their contents and the energy transfer that occurs on impact. Students enjoy this competitive challenge as they attain a deeper understanding of mechanical energy concepts.
To display the results from the previous activity, each student designs and constructs a mobile that contains a duplicate of his or her original box, the new cube-shaped box of the same volume, the scraps that are left over from the original box, and pertinent calculations of the volumes and surface areas involved. They problem solve and apply their understanding of see-saws and lever systems to create balanced mobiles.
Students are introduced to the respiratory system, the lungs and air. They learn about how the lungs and diaphragm work, how air pollution affects lungs and respiratory functions, some widespread respiratory problems, and how engineers help us stay healthy by designing machines and medicines that support respiratory health and function.
Students are presented with a brief history of bridges as they learn about the three main bridge types: beam, arch and suspension. They are introduced to two natural forces tension and compression common to all bridges and structures. Throughout history, and today, bridges are important for connecting people to resources, places and other people. Students become more aware of the variety and value of bridges around us in our everyday lives.
Students are introduced to the concept and steps of the engineering design process and taught how to apply it. Students first receive some background information about biomedical engineering (aka bioengineering). Then they learn about material selection and material properties by using a provided guide. In small groups, students learn of their design challenge (improve a cast for a broken arm), brainstorm solutions, are given materials and create prototypes. To finish, teams communicate their design solutions through class poster presentations.
This lesson is designed to be used within the heat transfer unit as an engineering design project.
My goal is to teach students:
The difference in heat conductivity of different materials.
Engage students in thinking about the principles of engineering (designing to meet criteria determined by the desired result).
Total class time:
170 minutes (2 class blocks, 1 period for demo, in-class design, 1 period for student-requested informational experiments).
Students will design, build, and test a spring-powered pontoon boat using common materials that must travel at least 20cm. Students will then use video software to analyze the motion of their craft.
Students are introduced to some basic civil engineering concepts in an exciting and interactive manner. Bridges and skyscrapers, the two most visible structures designed by civil engineers, are discussed in depth, including the design principles behind them. To help students visualize in three dimensions, one hands-on activity presents three-dimensional coordinate systems and gives students practice finding and describing points in space. After learning about skyscrapers, tower design principles and how materials absorb different types of forces, students compete to build their own newspaper towers to meet specific design criteria.The unit concludes with student groups using balsa wood and glue to design and build tower structures to withstand vertical and lateral forces.
The unit focuses on the question How can people help end pandemics? It is designed to teach students about the COVID-19 pandemic, transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and the impacts of the pandemic on communities. Over the course of the unit, students will study the COVID-19 pandemic in light of historical pandemics to build an understanding of the following key concepts:
• How the COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person and through communities,
• How strategies to reduce transmission of COVID-19 work,
• How the actions of individuals can help to end pandemics.
The unit also supports the development of two social emotional competencies: self awareness and social awareness.
Students will explore changes in Earth's atmosphere over the past few centuries, then design, build, and analyze a structure that control internal temperature without using additional energy.
In this project students gain an understanding of the engineering design process by building a cardboard arcade game where winning or losing completes an electrical circuit. Students will present their arcade game to an audience of middle school or elementary school students. This project was developed by Allen Distinguished Educators Rob Rambach and Patrick Dempsey.
Students learn that ordinary citizens, including students like themselves, can make meaningful contributions to science through the concept of "citizen science." First, students learn some examples of ongoing citizen science projects that are common around the world, such as medical research, medication testing and donating idle computer time to perform scientific calculations. Then they explore Zooniverse, an interactive website that shows how research in areas from marine biology to astronomy leverage the power of the Internet to use the assistance of non-scientists to classify large amounts of data that is unclassifiable by machines for various reasons. To conclude, student groups act as engineering teams to brainstorm projects ideas for their own town that could benefit from community help, then design conceptual interactive websites that could organize and support the projects.
Engineers design methods of removing particulate matter from industrial sources to minimize negative effects of air pollution. In this activity, students will undertake a similar engineering challenge as they design and build a filter to remove pepper from an air stream without blocking more than 50% of the air.
Posed with a paradigmatic engineering problem, students consider and explore mathematical algorithms and/or geometric concepts to devise possible solutions. The problem: How should a robotic vacuum move in order to best clean a floor of unknown shape and dimensions? They grapple with what could be a complex problem by brainstorming ideas, presenting the best idea for a solution and analyzing all presented solutions, and then are introduced to an elegant solution. Rather than elaborately calculating the most efficient route and keeping track of which tiles the robot has visited, a random number generator determines which direction the robot will take when it hits a barrier. Students are able to visually confirm how an unfamiliar programming concept (a random number generator) can make for a simple and efficient program that causes an NXT robot (that is suitably equipped) to clean a bare floor. Then students think of other uses for random numbers.
Have you ever wondered why it takes such a long period of time for NASA to build space exploration equipment? What is involved in manufacturing and building a rover for the Red Planet? During this lesson, students will discover the journey that a Mars rover embarks upon after being designed by engineers and before being prepared for launch. Students will investigate the fabrication techniques, tolerance concepts, assembly and field-testing associated with a Mars exploratory rover.
Students will construct a model of the carbon cycle to explore the cycling of matter in decomposition. Students will design a process to compost food waste and recycle products used during lunchtime to reduce the amount of garbage the school produces.
Students use simple household materials, such as PVC piping and compact mirrors, to construct models of laser-based security systems. The protected object (a "mummified troll" or another treasure of your choosing) is placed "on display" in the center of the modeled room and protected by a laser system that utilizes a laser beam reflected off mirrors to trigger a light trip sensor with alarm.
This lesson introduces students to the idea of biomimicry or looking to nature for engineering ideas. Biomimicry involves solving human problems by mimicking natural solutions, and it works well because the solutions exist naturally. There are numerous examples of useful applications of biomimicry, and in this lesson we look at a few fun examples.
Students will explore Newton's laws of motion through a variety of activities, including an investigation that involves collisions.
Students learn about biomedical engineering while designing, building and testing prototype surgical tools to treat cancer. Students also learn that if cancer cells are not removed quickly enough during testing, a cancerous tumor may grow exponentially and become more challenging to eliminate. Students practice iterative design as they improve their surgical tools during the activity.
Students design and build model landfills using materials similar to those used by engineers for full-scale landfills. Their completed small-size landfills are "rained" on and subjected to other erosion processes. The goal is to create landfills that hold the most garbage, minimize the cost to build and keep trash and contaminated water inside the landfill to prevent it from causing environmental damage. Teams create designs within given budgets, test the landfills' performance, and graph and compare designs for capacity, cost and performance.
Students discover how engineers can use biomimicry to enhance their designs. They learn how careful observation of nature becoming a nature detective, so to speak can lead to new innovations and products. In this activity, students reverse engineer a flower to glean design ideas for new products.
This is a highly adaptable outline for how design thinking could be introduced to your learners over a multi-day project. This plan works best if students are divided up into groups of 3-4 for all work except the introduction to each concept at the beginning of class. Learners should stay in the same group for the whole class.
Includes pre-work links, general instructions to guide planning for each day, design thinking student handouts, and multi-grade NGSS standards linked to design thinking.
In this project, students take on the role of an industrial engineer and learn about user-centered product design. They will go through all of the steps of James Dyson’s design process to design a gift that other students would want to buy for one of their adult family members. Students then vote to choose two final designs to move into production and will also create marketing materials for selling the product at school or another appropriate venue.
Students are given a biomedical engineering challenge, which they solve while following the steps of the engineering design process. In a design lab environment, student groups design, create and test prototype devices that help people using crutches carry things, such as books and school supplies. The assistive devices must meet a list of constraints, including a device weight limit and minimum load capacity. Students use various hand and power tools to fabricate the devices. They test the practicality of their designs by loading them with objects and then using the modified crutches in the school hallways and classrooms.
The purpose of this activity is for the students to draw a design for their own flying machine. They will apply their knowledge of aircraft design and the forces acting on them. The students will start with a brainstorming activity where they come up with creative uses for every day objects. They will then use their creativity and knowledge of airplanes to design their own flying machine.
Student teams use their knowledge about ancient Egypt to design playgrounds for Egyptian children. This involves brainstorming ideas on paper, building models with LEGO® bricks or other materials, and explaining their ideas to the class in five-minute presentations.
In this two-part activity, students design and build Rube Goldberg machines. This open-ended challenge employs the engineering design process and may have a pre-determined purpose, such as rolling a marble into a cup from a distance, or let students decide the purposes.
Students learn about the types of possible loads, how to calculate ultimate load combinations, and investigate the different sizes for the beams (girders) and columns (piers) of simple bridge design. Students learn the steps that engineers use to design bridges: understanding the problem, determining the potential bridge loads, calculating the highest possible load, and calculating the amount of material needed to resist the loads.
Students are introduced to engineering, specifically to biomedical engineering and the engineering design process, through a short lecture and an associated hands-on activity in which they design their own medical devices for retrieving foreign bodies from the ear canal. Through the lesson, they learn the basics of ear anatomy and how ear infections occur and are treated. Besides antibiotic treatment, the most common treatment for chronic ear infections is the insertion of ear tubes to drain fluid from the middle ear space to relieve pressure on the ear drum. Medical devices for this procedure, a very common children's surgery, are limited, sometimes resulting in unnecessary complications from a simple procedure. Thus, biomedical engineers must think creatively to develop new solutions (that is, new and improved medical devices/instruments) for inserting ear tubes into the ear drum. The class learns the engineering design process from this ear tube example of a medical device design problem. In the associated activity, students explore biomedical engineering on their own by designing prototype medical devices to solve another ear problem commonly experienced by children: the lodging of a foreign body (such as a pebble, bead or popcorn kernel) in the ear canal. The activity concludes by teams sharing and verbally analyzing their devices.