facebook twitter mail share

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.

July 24, 2018 | Sponsored

Jennifer Bosavage

Middle school teachers who are fortunate enough to have laser cutting machinery at their disposal are faced with figuring out how to incorporate the technology into meaningful lessons. Far beyond personalized engraved trinkets, laser systems can teach children skills that will benefit them in high school (and beyond), including organization and preparation. In addition, laser cutters let young adolescents use creativity while learning science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM).

The best way to kick off a unit study is with a fun, hands-on activity. Hands-on activities promote a love of learning and connect abstract concepts to the real world. The following are some lesson plan ideas for middle school teachers wanting to incorporate hands-on learning through laser cutting into their curricula.

Social Studies

Objective: Learn about different cultures through their folk art. Paper cutting is a popular art form for many cultures. For example, in China, paper cutting expresses moral principles, philosophies and aesthetic ideals. In Switzerland, the art of Scherenschnitt (which translates to "scissor cuts" in German) tells stories in silhouette; early designs featured landscapes of cows, goats and herdsmen moving the animals up to the mountain pastures and back. Polish papercutting, called Wycinanki, was traditionally done using sheep shears because they were often the only cutting instruments available.

Math
Objective: Understand and apply the Pythagorean theorem. (This lesson meets Common Core Standards for Geometry.) Students can have fun with geometry by reviewing some of the elaborate wooden marquetry work done on old floors. The laser can cut these geometric shapes in wood veneers, to be assembled and glued into a tile that has practical value as a trivet, and students use the Pythagorean theorem to measure, cut and fit together the triangular pieces.

English

Objective: Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events or character types from myths or traditional stories. (This lesson meets Common Core Standards for Literature.) Laser cutters can be used to create all types of costumes, allowing students to “dress the part” when reading plays or novels aloud in class. Acting out in this way helps the text come alive. For instance, Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” could be enhanced with the addition of a laser-cut bird costume.

Earth Science

Objective: Students learn a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments. (This lesson meets Common Core Standards for Science.) Laser cutters are ideal for making puzzles. Here, students engrave the seven steps of the scientific method on individual puzzle pieces that they’ve cut to fit together only when assembled properly.  

Engineering Science

Objective: Demonstrate simple engineering principles by building model bridges. Students can cut arches, trusses, brackets and other parts, and measure the load-bearing characteristics while learning about building prototypes. Models of various bridge types are cut by scanning diagrams and tracing them. A contest will determine which student or team model can bear the most weight before collapsing.

Using hands-on instruction, educators foster the 21st century skills that students need to be successful: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. Hands-on learning helps students retain information and allows them to feel the satisfaction of creation. Laser cutters help reinforce mathematical principles in every project created regardless of discipline. The happy byproduct is leaving students with a tangible sense of accomplishment.

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.

July 25, 2018 |

Grace Dille

Registration is open for the 2018-2019 Future City competition! This is a national competition for middle school students to imagine, research, design and build cities of the future.

Future City allows students to showcase their solution to a citywide sustainability issue. The theme for this year’s competition is Powering Our Future. “Teams will design a resilient power grid for their future city that can withstand and quickly recover from the impacts of a natural disaster,”  according to the Future City website.

Teams of three or more students, an educator, and a mentor will participate in five areas of competition. The areas include a virtual city design (using SimCity), a 1,500-word city essay, a scale model built from recycled materials, a project plan and a presentation to judges at regional competitions in January.

Teams that win their regional competition will receive a free trip to Washington D.C., where they will compete at the national competition. As the grand prize, national winners can win a trip to Space Camp and $7,500 for their school’s STEM programs. Cash prizes are also awarded to second, third, fourth and fifth place.

This competition is a great way to get middle schoolers involved in hands-on STEM activities and teach them how to think like an engineer. By applying math and science concepts to real-world issues, students learn more about how communities work and become better citizens.

Registration closes October 31, so don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity! Check out Future City’s website to learn more and register today.

July 17, 2018 |

Grace Dille

The gender disparity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields has caused researchers to question why most girls and young women do not consider a degree or career in these fields. New research from Microsoft provides some answers and solutions to help close the STEM gap.

In their study, Microsoft surveyed over 6,000 girls and young women from ages 10-30 to examine their attitudes towards STEM, school, and the workforce. They hope the results from their study will help policymakers, educators, parents, and employers to better understand and overcome the challenges girls and young women face when it comes to pursuing studies or careers in STEM.

The main research findings showed that girls and young women have a hard time picturing themselves in STEM roles. Research suggests they need more exposure to STEM jobs, female role models, and career awareness and planning in order to empower them to pursue a career in STEM.

The research also found that girls initially don’t see STEM careers to be creative or have a positive impact on the world. However, even a little exposure to real-world applications of STEM knowledge dramatically changes their outlook.

Another finding showed that girls who participate in STEM clubs and activities outside of school are more likely to say they will pursue STEM subjects later in their education.

According to their research, encouragement from teachers and parents makes an enormous impact in girls’ interest in STEM—especially when it comes from both teachers and parents.

Finally, they found that educators can foster a “growth mindset” among their female students by tapping into their willingness to work hard for results. The research suggests that rewarding the process and effort of learning, rather than exclusively rewarding results, is a powerful way to support girls.

Read the results here from their “Closing the STEM Gap” study, which dives into more detail with real numbers, quotes from girls and young women involved in the study, insightful graphics, and steps to turn this insight into action.

June 28, 2018 |

Grace Dille

Wondering if that chicken in the fridge is still good? Sensors in packaging could soon alert you of dangerous bacteria in various types of food products.

Chemical engineer, Carlos Filipe, at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, has developed sensors to detect the presence of the potentially dangerous bacteria, E. coli, in packaged foods.

To do so, Filipe and his team coated a flexible film in molecules that glow in the presence of E. coli. The sensors glow around molecules that E. coli cells produce, so the material doesn’t have to touch contaminated food to know that the bacteria is there.

These transparent patch sensors, which are about the size of postage stamps, lit up brightly when they were tested on meat and apple juice hosting E. coli. However, when they were touching uncontaminated food samples they did not light up at all.

Filipe and the McMaster team hope to develop films that glow near other dangerous bacteria in the future. Tohid Didar, a mechanical-biomedical engineer on the team, said one of those bacteria might be Salmonella, which is one of the most common causes of food poisoning.

Foodborne illnesses such as E. coli and Salmonella affect 1 in 10 people every year and 420,000 die as a result, according to the World Health Organization. These sensors could help reduce that number and alert people before they consume contaminated foods.

“A food manufacturer could easily incorporate this into its production process,” Didar said. The engineers said mass producing the sensors would be fairly cheap, but the invention would need a commercial partner and regulatory approvals before it reaches the market.

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.

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.

Biology

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.

Physics

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.

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.

PROMO CODE: CITY2018

Zappy
April 30, 2018 | Announcements

Check out the latest trailer for the Zappy Squirrel App:

 

Pages

Quickstart: we have resources for Students, Parents, Teachers, and Guidance Counselors