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TryEngineering Today!

TryEngineering Today! is dedicated to providing the latest news and information for students, parents, teachers, and counselors interested in engineering, computing technology and related topics.

Figure 1. Assembled 3D model of Abraham Lincoln, made from laser-cut taskboard. Source: Epilog Laser
May 30, 2018 | Sponsored

Jennifer Bosavage

Schools across the country are faced with integrating STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) into their curriculum. That can be a daunting task. For teachers committed to hands-on, experiential learning, introducing a laser cutter into the classroom can make STEM lessons fun and much more accessible than learning from textbooks alone. Laser cutters and engravers bring lessons alive; educators know that when students make connections between the concepts in the classroom and concepts in the real world, more parts of their brains are activated and the knowledge gained through hands-on activity more easily transfers to long-term memory.

Laser cutters are investments for schools. To take full advantage of the machinery it is practical to keep costs down per project so more projects can be accommodated. The following are three budget-savvy projects that can easily be adapted to fit into a middle school curriculum.


Using felt cut-outs of organs, students learn about human anatomy. Felt squares are inexpensive and come in a variety of colors. Students create the pattern of each organ and cut them using the laser cutting machine. Each organ is cut from a different color of felt so they can be identified more readily, but students may also want to label them. The organs can then be placed on a felt board on which students have drawn the outline of a body. The felt pieces adhere easily to the felt board; however, they could be attached more securely by simply adding hook-and-loop fasteners to the body and organs.


Students make their own airplanes using balsa wood and learn about flight. Balsa wood is extremely versatile as well as affordable. It’s the go-to material for building model airplanes, so creating flyable planes that are twice as large as those found in a toy store is an exciting project for students. The material list includes balsa wood that is 0.09375 by 4.0 by 36.0 in. for the wings, a 0.5 by 0.5 by 36.0 in. piece of wood for the body as well as a weight (such as a binder clip) for the nose. Students can download patterns from the internet, or try to create their own after taking a tutorial on the necessary qualities to make an airplane that is flight-ready.

3D Model Design

Using corrugated cardboard and third-party 3D-modeling software students can take their two-dimensional images or designs and transform them into 3D models. Modeling software, such as Fusion 360™ from Autodesk®, allows students to turn images into numbered “slices,” which are then cut by the laser. Users simply slide the slices over a center dowel rod support and the image on the screen is now a 3D piece.

For classes on even tighter budgets, nearly any type of clean cardboard packaging can be used – cereal boxes, discarded shipping boxes, even pizza boxes!

Laser cutters and engravers can play an important role in encouraging interest in STEM by providing an easy way to integrate hands-on learning within the classroom. Teachers can easily incorporate projects that “come to life” — and can demonstrate that learning can be engaging without breaking the budget.

Content sponsored by Epilog Laser: https://www.epiloglaser.com/gs-try-engineering/

This content was provided by Epilog Laser. In business since 1988, Epilog Laser has worked hard to become the leader in the laser engraving, cutting and marking industry. We are innovators. We are problem solvers. We are committed to designing and manufacturing the highest-quality laser systems, right here in our Golden, CO headquarters. Read More.

Laser tag
March 14, 2018 | Sponsored

Check out this amazing new lesson plan sponsored by Epilog Laser! Using vector-based graphic design software and an Epilog Laser cutter/engraver, students will learn to design and produce their very own custom backpack/luggage tag.

View the lesson plan

This content was provided by Epilog Laser. In business since 1988, Epilog Laser has worked hard to become the leader in the laser engraving, cutting and marking industry. We are innovators. We are problem solvers. We are committed to designing and manufacturing the highest-quality laser systems, right here in our Golden, CO headquarters. Read More.

June 13, 2018 |

Grace Dille

Kids can lose up to two to three months of their reading and math skills over the summer, according to the National Summer Learning Association. These losses come at an even greater cost for kids in low-income families, who can fall two-and-a-half to three years behind their peers due to summer learning loss.

Both teachers and parents can do more to encourage kids to continue learning over the summer. Especially because young girls lose interest in STEM at around age 8, the summer is the perfect time to introduce STEM to girls in a fun and innovative way. By incorporating STEM-related topics into summer activities, teachers and parents can help to decrease summer learning loss and increase their kids’ interest in STEM.

How to incorporate STEM-learning into your summer fun:

  • Read. Reading is a great way for kids to keep their minds active over summer. Teachers can offer summer reading lists for age-appropriate suggestions or parents can bring their kids to their local library. Often, local libraries will offer summer reading programs for kids and will use prizes to keep kids engaged. Another option is to get your kid a magazine subscription, to give them new content to look forward to throughout the summer. Check out this great STEM-related magazine, Smore, targeted towards girls ages 7 and up. This magazine is a great option for young girls interested in STEM, providing them with encouragement, role models, and even a pull-out poster in each issue.


  • Play. When thinking about buying toys for your kid this summer, try to select STEM-related ones that will keep your kid’s brain stimulated for hours. One awesome toy to check out is the award-winning littleBits Droid Inventor Kit -- perfect for Star Wars fans. Kids can create their own Droid and bring it to life through easy block-based coding. By using the Droid inventor app, kids can control their droid, give it new abilities, and take it on over 22 missions. Kids can continue to invent with this toy all summer long.


  • Attend a camp. Summer camps are the perfect way to get your kid excited about STEM and immerse them into a fun learning environment. TryEngineering offers two-week engineering camps for 8th to 12th graders at colleges and universities across the United States throughout July. This is a perfect way for students to learn more about engineering, get hands-on experience, meet new friends with similar interests, and become inspired by professional engineers.

Check out these ideas and share your own STEM-related summer fun ideas with us on Twitter or Facebook.

thank you
May 8, 2018 |

TryEngineering.org wants to extend a great big THANK YOU to all of the STEM teacher-warriors working tirelessly to help students discover their inner innovators. We know that teaching STEM involves a great deal of planning, preparation, materials, and sometimes even a dash of chaos. By introducing students to STEM you are giving them the freedom to wonder, create, collaborate, tinker, and sometimes even fail. STEM teaches students to stay curious, play, take risks, and never give up. Through these experiences, you are shaping the dreamers, disruptors, and difference-makers of tomorrow!

Future city
May 1, 2018 | Teacher Opportunities

Future City is an award-winning STEAM program adopted by educators like you for over 25 years. Students build 21st-century skills—problem solving, project management, and teamwork—all within an environment that fosters authentic thinking and a growth mindset.

Future City engages young minds and encourages independent thinking. It inspires non-traditional learners and challenges high achievers.

Use this promo code, and share it with your STEAM educator friends so they can register for Future City 2018-2019 for free. You’ll get one of the most comprehensive STEAM programs that aligns with academic standards, including Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and Principles and Standards for School Mathematics.


April 30, 2018 | Announcements

Check out the latest trailer for the Zappy Squirrel App:


Figure 1. A house and topography model. Source: Epilog Laser
April 17, 2018 | Sponsored

Jennifer Bosavage

Laser engravers are versatile pieces of equipment in schools. Not only do they offer a great way to teach students skilled craftsmanship, but they also provide a way for schools to save money on student and teacher awards, directional and instructional signage and various other projects that were once outsourced. Lasers are user-friendly and easy to operate, and most students are mesmerized by the technology when they see the laser in action, which makes them excited about creating their own laser projects. Here are four amazing ways laser engravers and cutters are being used in the classroom.

Architectural Models

Students with an interest in architecture or design can build models of their designs with various types of materials, including wood, acrylic, matboard and other prototype materials. Students learn how to develop a design and then realize it by using CAD programs to create a small-scale replica.

Challenging students to design things that scale-up to a size larger than the prototype encourages them to “think big.” In addition, geology can be built into these types of lessons, with students required to situate their creations on certain topography types.

Musical Instruments

Figure 2. A personalized guitar engraving. Source: Epilog LaserBuilding musical instruments from scratch helps students understand how the instruments work as well as the physics of sound. For example, an electric guitar can be designed from scratch using plywood and a laser cutter. To create a template, students can download images from the internet and use measurements from a model guitar, create the design and then cut out the body using a laser cutter. Using cardboard for the prototype is preferred to allow for adjustments before cutting wood. Students will quickly see how the slightest deviation in design will impact the final product’s sound quality. Additionally, the instruments can be engraved as desired with students’ names or with far more intricate designs. In addition to students building or personalizing their own instruments, school music departments that rent equipment can brand and serialize rental instruments to increase traceability and reduce theft.


Drama departments are frequently in a bind, looking for that perfect costume or piece for set design. Laser cutters can cut fabric to make elaborate, unique costumes for school productions, which allows students who are interested in fashion and theater to laser cut clothes and costumes, another meaningfully way to participate in a school activity. Materials can be inexpensive as well. As noted above, cardboard is an economical choice when creating design prototypes, as it is inexpensive and cuts quickly. Creating structures from cardboard is a simple way to test complex designs. Any sturdy cardboard can be used, from corrugated to recycled shipping boxes. Slotting, stacking and folding the material can all be done without compromising its integrity to create 3D forms.

Figure 3. Design and fabricate unique trophies and awards. Source: Epilog LaserAwards

Laser engravers can certainly handle basic tasks such as personalizing trophies and plaques. But they can also create one-of-a-kind awards using unique templates that administrators or students themselves design. Scrap material can be repurposed into custom awards created from many different types of substrates. Epilog offers an award template to get students started, but there are endless possibilities. A quick search on Pinterest provides many creative ideas for laser cut trophies, medals and awards. We know that student recognition is important, and a unique token of a student’s achievement that is customized just for them makes the distinction even greater.

Content sponsored by Epilog Laser: https://www.epiloglaser.com/gs-try-engineering/.



This content was provided by Epilog Laser. In business since 1988, Epilog Laser has worked hard to become the leader in the laser engraving, cutting and marking industry. We are innovators. We are problem solvers. We are committed to designing and manufacturing the highest-quality laser systems, right here in our Golden, CO headquarters. Read More.

TET Classroom
April 4, 2018 | Teacher Opportunities

Infuse your Classroom with the Power of STEM eMentorship!
TryEngineering Together™ is an innovative STEM eMentorship program that fosters connections between 3rd-5th grade students in under resourced classrooms and real engineering and technology professionals in a safe online environment.
Teacher applications are currently being accepted for classroom grants to participate in the program, which begins in Fall 2018. 


Become a STEM leader at your school and apply today! 


Download the TryEngineering Together Flyer










Figure 1. Schools can save significant sums by engraving their own awards, plaques and signs. Source: Epilog Laser
March 16, 2018 | Sponsored

Jennifer Bosavage

For middle schools and high schools a high-quality, durable laser cutter engraver is a highly sought-after tool. Even elementary schools are getting excited about this type of equipment. Laser cutters help to develop valuable technical skills, nurture logical and creative thought processes and, in the long run, can actually save schools money.

In addition to classroom usage, schools with laser cutters can create their own student and teacher awards and recognition products, design and produce directional and instructional signage and fabricate much more. While some school boards might have little money to spend on new equipment, a case can be made to show budget-minded school boards why they need to consider laser cutters, and how such tools can make the investment worthwhile.

1. Laser Cutters Develop Technical Skills
Learning to use a laser cutter and engraver is fairly easy. Because they’re intuitive and easy to operate, less time is spent teaching students how to operate the machinery so more time can be devoted to actually using it. Laser cutting systems work in a way that's similar to printers but instead of ink, the laser uses a beam of light to etch and engrave or cut through a variety of materials. Students can learn how to operate a laser, use graphic software to design for the laser, ensure proper laser safety and develop computer-assisted programming skills.

The technical skills students develop in high school might well expose them to a career path. Those in the skilled trades are well compensated: on average, the paychecks for trades are either at or above other careers. Research from the State of Michigan found that skilled trades provide an above average median wage, paying between $12 and $34 an hour. Laser cutters help educators transform students into project-based builders well before they reach the job market. Those skills serve students well regardless of whether they are looking for a full-time or part-time job, and also can provide the foundation for a budding entrepreneur.

2. Laser Cutters Foster Creativity and Design
All laser projects require a design plan. This typically is created in a vector-based graphic software program that tells the laser where to cut and where to engrave. Designing for the laser helps develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. In addition, research has found that students learn better and retain more with hands-on projects that have real-life applications. Students can create virtually anything using laser cutters, from simple projects such as text engraving to more intricate 3D models, all while practicing math skills, learning laser design skills and creating finished products.

3D printers are another commonly sought-after device for schools and are great companions for laser cutters in a student makerspace. However, if the school must choose between a 3D printer and a laser cutter, smart money is on the laser cutter. Lasers are significantly faster than 3D printers. Due to their speed, lasers can help ensure that every student in a typical class can complete a small project in a single period.

3. Laser Cutters Deliver Bang for the Taxpayers’ Buck
A school with a laser can produce its own student and teacher awards and plaques, as well as one-of-a-kind gifts or custom promotional products for fundraising. No more time is wasted trying to find affordable outside vendors when so many tasks can be accomplished by students in a variety of classes, clubs or other programs. For example, drama students can use the laser to create and enhance sets, props and costumes.

Sports departments can cut custom appliques for jackets and team t-shirts, or even engrave game-winning commemorative baseballs, footballs and equipment. Art students can experiment with new materials and applications to hone their craft and create new pieces. Music departments can use the laser to serialize or brand instruments to reduce theft.


The most effective school boards invest in programs that support and cultivate student learning — the top priority. School resources, therefore, are spent on promoting achievement for all students. Laser engravers and cutters can be utilized by an entire school community, including teachers and faculty. Not only can the machines teach a valuable skill that could lead to a career and potential entrepreneurship, but also pay for themselves by allowing operators to create products the school would have to spend taxpayer money on. Effective boards understand their accountability to the communities they serve. Therefore, procuring a school laser cutter should be looked on as an investment in students and schools, rather than as expenditure.

Content sponsored by Epilog Laser: https://www.epiloglaser.com/gs-try-engineering/.

This content was provided by Epilog Laser. In business since 1988, Epilog Laser has worked hard to become the leader in the laser engraving, cutting and marking industry. We are innovators. We are problem solvers. We are committed to designing and manufacturing the highest-quality laser systems, right here in our Golden, CO headquarters. Read More.

March 8, 2018 | Profiles

Check out this inspiring profile of EPICS in IEEE leader Victoria Serrano. Learn about her LEGO EV3 Snake project out of Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá and what a STEM career means to her. #WomenInStem #EpicsinIEEE

Read more: http://epics.ieee.org/project-leader-spotlight-victoria-serrano/


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