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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.

March 10, 2014 | Innovations

A team of investigators including an associate mechanical engineering professor from MIT, a secondary school teacher, and a secondary school student have designed and tested a water filtration system that uses the wood of the pine tree as a filter. The inspiration for the system came from the way trees can filter out air bubbles within their circulatory systems while allowing sap to flow. The researchers first tested dried wood samples, but found that the drying process affects the system of channels, or xylem, within the tree, making it an ineffective filter. They then tested fresh pine wood stripped of its bark, by placing a cross section, an inch long and a half inch in diameter inside a tube. The researchers discovered that the wood filtered out red food dye particles as small as 100 nanometers in size. Additional tests discovered that the wood was also effective at filtering out E. coli bacteria. The pine wood filter can purify up to 4 liters of water per day. The investigators believe that pine wood has the potential to become part of the next generation of inexpensive water filters. 

March 7, 2014 | Innovations

A team of researchers from Tufts University School of Engineering and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has developed surgical plates and implants for bone fractures made from silk protein derived from Bombyx mori silkworm cocoons. As opposed to metal or synthetic polymer implants, which can cause infections requiring removal, silk implants can actually be absorbed by the body over time. The researchers found that the silk implants can withstand extreme conditions such as high temperatures, and can easily be sterilized. Silk screws can also be used to deliver antibiotics to surgical sites to reduce the chance of infection. Silk implants do not show up on X-rays, which enables surgeons to better visualize how fractures are healing. It is anticipated that silk screws could be quite beneficial for surgeries for facial injuries and other type of bone fractures. This work represents the first time silk has been used to develop a medical device to repair bone fractures. 

February 24, 2014 | Student Opportunities

Before there was an airplane, there were doodles of cool flying machines. And before there was a submarine, there were doodles of magical underwater sea explorers. Since the beginning of time, ideas big and small, practical and playful, have started out as doodles. One talented young artist (grades K-12) will see his or her artwork on the Google homepage and receive a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 Google for Education technology grant for his or her school. The 2014 theme of the Google 4 Doodle competition is "If I Could Invent One Thing To Make the World a Better Place..."

Learn more...


February 19, 2014 | Events

If you are going to be in the D.C. area this weekend, stop by Discover Engineering Family Day at the National Building Museum on Saturday, 22 February between the hours of 10:00a and 4:30p.  IEEE will be hosting a fun brushbot activity alongside dozens of other exhibitors! (If you can't attend the event, learn how to make your own brushbot at home.)

At Discover Engineering Family Day visitors can also:

  • Meet astronaut Dr. Robert Crouch
  • See engineer Nate Ball, co-host of PBS' Design Squad Nation, demonstrate the Atlas Power Ascender
  • Make slime
  • Control a robot
  • Build a skyscraper
  • Catapult a Ping Pong ball
  • Test the strength of a building in a tsunami
  • Meet Curious George and Cat in the Hat from WETA and PBSKids

Discover Engineering Family Day is a FREE, drop-in program. $5 donation suggested. Program and activities are most appropriate for children ages 6 to 12 with adult supervision. Registration is not required. 

Check out some highlights from last year's event:



cochlear implant
February 10, 2014 | Innovations

Cochlear implants are medical breakthroughs that have provided the sense of sound to those who would otherwise be deaf or severely hard of hearing. These devices, which electrically stimulate the auditory nerve, rely on external components including a transmitter, microphone and power source, that are wired from around the ear to the wearer's skull. Researchers at MIT have developed a low-power signal-processing chip that could be used to create a cochlear implant that no longer requires external components. The new cochlear implant would utilize a sensor that detects vibrations from bones in the middle ear and transmits them to a microchip implanted in the ear. These vibrations would then be converted into an electrical signal and sent to an electrode in the cochlea. To lower the power requirements of the converter chip, the researchers optimized the arrangement of low-power filters and amplifiers, and developed a more power-efficient signal-generating circuit. This new cochlear implant could even be charged wirelessly in only two minutes using a device that plugs into a smart phone, for a charge that would last up to eight hours. 

origami crane
January 28, 2014 | Innovations

Engineers at Florida International University are designing the next generation of antennas using origami. The principles of origami enable the antennas to be folded to only a few centimeters, and in a variety of shapes, but still possess ultra-broadband capabilities. The antennas are typically made from paper, but the researchers are also exploring using plastics and other materials. Advanced inkjet printing techniques are used to apply the conductive elements of the antennas that enable signal reception. These folding antennas possess a wide range of applications ranging from space, to medicine, to the military. 

To try your hand at folded engineering design, check out the Folding Matters lesson plan! 

January 17, 2014 |

Computing and engineering students from the University of Southampton won the Thales Project Arduino Competion, which challenged students to design something using the Thales Arduino open-source electronic microprocessor platform. Projects needed to be in the areas of transport, aerospace, defense or security, and students were invited to film the progress of their efforts. The Southampton students designed a soldier-monitoring smart helmet which was fabricated using a 3D printer. The helmet was programmed using the Arduino platform to record the wearer's heart rate, body position and body temperature. Check out a video of the students' project below:


The Science Play and Research Kit (SPARK) competition challenges participants to reimagine the chemistry set for the 21st century and generate a new set of experiences and activities that encourage imagination and interest in science and engineering. The competition is not limited to chemistry, but is looking for ideas that can engage kids as young as 8 and inspire people who are 88; that encourage kids to explore, create, build and question; and honor kids’ curiosity about how things work.

Apply by 7 January 2014 at reimaginechemset.org to win prizes up to US$5,000!

December 12, 2013 | Student Opportunties

Celebrate Computer Science Education Week by trying your hand at an hour of code! Visit the Computer Science Education Week Web site for some great tutorials, or watch the video below to get started. 

December 10, 2013 | Announcements

Lesson plans on TryEngineering.org are now aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (where applicable). These are in addition to current alignments to the U.S. National Science Education Standards, International Technology and Engineering Educators Association's Standards for Technological Literacy, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' Principles and Standards for School Mathematics and the Computer Science Teachers Association's K-12 Computer Science Standards

Search TryEngineering's database of 115 free engineering, computing and technology lesson plans.


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