Lesson Focus

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.


Full Lesson Plan
Student Worksheets

Age Levels:

8 – 18


  • Learn about mechanical engineering.
  • Learn about engineering design and redesign.
  • Learn how engineering can help solve society’s challenges.
  • Learn about teamwork and problem solving.

Anticipated Learner Outcomes

As a result of this activity, students should develop an understanding of:

  • mechanical engineering
  • viscosity
  • engineering design
  • teamwork

Lesson Activities

Students explore how writing instruments have changed over time and work in teams to develop their own pen out of everyday items that can deliver a controlled amount of washable liquid watercolor (ink) to paper in order to write the letter “A”. They plan their design on paper, built it, test it, reflect on the activity, and share their experiences with the class.


  • Teacher Resource Documents (attached)
  • Student Resource Sheet (attached)
  • Student Worksheet (attached)

Alignment to Curriculum Frameworks

Curriculum alignment sheet is included in PDF.