Lesson explores the engineering behind life vests or personal flotation devices and the challenges met by these devices. Students work in teams to design and build a flotation device out of everyday materials that can keep an unopened can of soup or vegetables afloat in a bucket of water or sink for a minute. They design their life vest, build and test it, evaluate their designs and those of classmates, and share observations with their class.
Lesson focuses on aerospace engineering and how space flight has been achieved from an engineering vantage point. Student teams build and launch a rocket made out of a soda bottle and powered with an air pump and consider the forces on a rocket, Newton's Laws, and other principles and challenges of actual space vehicle launch. Teams design their structure on paper, learn about aerospace engineering, launch their rocket, and share observations with their class.
Lesson focuses on how the process of folding has impacts on engineering and is evident in nature. Students consider many applications of folding such as parachutes, wings in a cocoon, heart stents, and solar panels in space. They work in teams to create a model out of everyday items of a solar panel that can be folded (for transport) and expanded (in space). Students design their solar panel on paper, build it for transport, and open or test it. All teams evaluate their results, reflect on their design, and present to the class.
Lesson focuses on the many uses of periscopes and how this simple device was designed and is used in many applications. Students work in teams to design and build their own working periscope out of everyday materials. They design their periscope, build and test it, evaluate their designs and those of classmates, and share observations with their class.
Lesson focuses on how failure is part of the engineering process. Students work in teams and learn about many inventions and advances in engineering were brought about after a mistake or failure. Students research an example of such an innovation and develop a presentation related to how the tenacity of the engineer allowed him or her to move past a failure and into the realm of innovation. Students reflect on the value of moving on after a failure or setback, present the results of their research to the class, and provide examples of how the innovation they researched has impacted society -- only because the engineer didn't give up.
Lesson focuses on how materials behave differently as their surface area increases. Students learn about nanotechnology and how engineers can harness the differences in how materials behave when small to solutions for challenges in many industries. Students work in teams to explore examples of how surface area impacts functionality. They hypothesize how surface area will impact the performance of antacid tablets, conduct an experiment using whole and crushed tablets to see how they behave when introduced to water, observe what they see, extrapolate to other examples, compare their hypotheses and the results with those of other student teams, reflect on the experience, and share observations with the class.
Lesson focuses on how engineers have developed and use special tools that can observe the landscape of materials when they are working at the nano scale. Students learn about Scanning Probe Microscopes (SPM) and then work in teams using a pencil to explore and identify the shape of objects they cannot see, just as the SPM does at the nano level. They draw what their mind "sees" on paper, compare their results with other student teams, and share observations with their class.
Lesson focuses on how writing instruments have been engineered over time. Students work in teams to design and build a functional "pen" out of everyday materials that can deliver washable liquid watercolor (ink) to a sheet of paper in a controlled manner. They design their pen, build and test their design, evaluate their results, and share observations with the class.
Lesson focuses on sports engineering and advanced materials development. Students work in a team to devise a racquet out of everyday materials that can consistently hit a ball to a target. Students design their racquet on paper, build the racquet, and test it. All teams evaluate their results, reflect on their design, and present to the class.
The lesson focuses on unique challenges in transportation engineering, such as devising a method for skiers or hikers to get to the top of a mountain. Students work in teams to design a "chair lift" out of everyday items that can transport a ping pong ball in an open front cup from the bottom of a "valley" to the top of a "mountain" along a clothes line or wire without the ball falling out. Students design their chairlift on paper, execute their design, test it, reflect on the challenge, and share their experiences with the class.

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