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Creative Engineering Design
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Students are introduced to the world of creative engineering product design. Through six activities, teams work through the steps of the engineering design process (or loop) by completing an actual design challenge presented in six steps. The project challenge is left up to the teacher or class to determine; it might be one decided by the teacher, brainstormed with the class, or the example provided (to design a prosthetic arm that can perform a mechanical function). As students begin by defining the problem, they learn to recognize the need, identify a target population, relate to the project, and identify its requirements and constraints. Then they conduct research, brainstorm alternative solutions, evaluate possible solutions, create and test prototypes, and consider issues for manufacturing. See the Unit Schedule section for a list of example design project topics.

Subject:
Applied Science
Architecture and Design
Engineering
Material Type:
Full Course
Unit of Study
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
See individual activities.
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Cutting Through Soil
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Students pretend they are agricultural engineers during the colonial period and design a miniature plow that cuts through a "field" of soil. They are introduced to the engineering design process and learn of several famous historical figures who contributed to plow design.

Subject:
Agriculture
Applied Science
Career and Technical Education
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Jacob Crosby
Janet Yowell
Malinda Schaefer Zarske
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Design Air Racer Cars Using Tinkercad
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Students use the engineering design process to assemble an electric racer vehicle. After using Tinkercad to design blades for their racers, students print their designs using a MakerBot printer. Once the students finish assembly and install their vehicle’s air blades, they race their vehicles to see which design travels the furthest distance in the least amount of time. A discussion at the end of the activity allows students to reflect on what they learned and to evaluation the engineering design process as a group.

Subject:
Applied Science
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
Activities
Author:
Beth Podoll
Kara Eken
Quenna Beston
Date Added:
04/29/2019
Design Step 1: Identify the Need
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Educational Use
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Students practice the initial steps involved in an engineering design challenge. They begin by reviewing the steps of the engineering design loop and discussing the client need for the project. Next, they identify a relevant context, define the problem within their design teams, and examine the project's requirements and constraints. (Note: Conduct this activity in the context of a design project that students are working on, which could be a challenge determined by the teacher, brainstormed with the class, or the example project challenge provided [to design a prosthetic arm that can perform a mechanical function].)

Subject:
Applied Science
Architecture and Design
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Denise W. Carlson
Lauren Cooper
Malinda Schaefer Zarske
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Design Step 2: Research the Problem
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Through Internet research, patent research, standards and codes research, user interviews (if possible) and other techniques (idea web, reverse engineering), students further develop the context for their design challenge. In subsequent activities, the design teams use this body of knowledge about the problem to generate product design ideas. (Note: Conduct this activity in the context of a design project that students are working on, which could be a challenge determined by the teacher, brainstormed with the class, or the example project challenge provided [to design a prosthetic arm that can perform a mechanical function]. This activity is Step 2 in a series of six that guide students through the engineering design loop.)

Subject:
Applied Science
Architecture and Design
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Denise W. Carlson
Lauren Cooper
Malinda Schaefer Zarske
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Design Step 3: Brainstorm Possible Solutions
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Educational Use
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Brainstorming is a team creativity activity that helps generate a large number of potential solutions to a problem. In this activity, students participate in a group brainstorming activity to generate possible solutions to their engineering design challenge. Students learn brainstorming guidelines and practice within their teams to create a poster of ideas. The posters are used in a large group critiquing activity that ultimately helps student teams create a design project outline. (Note: Conduct this activity in the context of a design project that students are working on; this activity is Step 3 in a series of six that guide students through the engineering design loop.)

Subject:
Applied Science
Architecture and Design
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Denise W. Carlson
Lauren Cooper
Malinda Schaefer Zarske
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Design Step 5: Construct a Prototype
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Educational Use
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Students learn about the manufacturing phase of the engineering design process. They start by building prototypes, which is a special type of model used to test new design ideas. Students gain experience using a variety of simple building materials, such as foam core board, balsa wood, cardstock and hot glue. They present their prototypes to the class for user testing and create prototype iterations based on feedback. (Note: Conduct this activity in the context of a design project that students are working on; this activity is Step 5 in a series of six that guide students through the engineering design loop.)

Subject:
Applied Science
Architecture and Design
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Denise W. Carlson
Lauren Cooper
Malinda Schaefer Zarske
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Design Step 6: Evaluate/Manufacture a Final Product
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Educational Use
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As students learn more about the manufacturing process, they use the final prototypes created in the previous activity to evaluate, design and manufacture final products. Teams work with more advanced materials and tools, such as plywood, Plexiglas, metals, epoxies, welding materials and machining tools. (Note: Conduct this activity in the context of a design project that students are working on; this activity is Step 6 in a series of six that guide students through the engineering design loop.)

Subject:
Applied Science
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Denise W. Carlson
Lauren Cooper
Malinda Schaefer Zarske
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Design Your Own Rube Goldberg Machine
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Educational Use
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Engineer and cartoonist Rube Goldberg is famous for his crazy machines that accomplish everyday tasks in overly complicated ways. Students use their new understanding of types of simple machines to design and build their own Rube Goldberg machines that perform simple tasks in no less than 10 steps.

Subject:
Applied Science
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Design a Carrying Device for People Using Crutches
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Educational Use
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Students are given a biomedical engineering challenge, which they solve while following the steps of the engineering design process. In a design lab environment, student groups design, create and test prototype devices that help people using crutches carry things, such as books and school supplies. The assistive devices must meet a list of constraints, including a device weight limit and minimum load capacity. Students use various hand and power tools to fabricate the devices. They test the practicality of their designs by loading them with objects and then using the modified crutches in the school hallways and classrooms.

Subject:
Applied Science
Engineering
Health, Medicine and Nursing
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Kristen Billiar
Terri Camesano
Thomas Oliva
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Design an Egyptian Playground
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Educational Use
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Student teams use their knowledge about ancient Egypt to design playgrounds for Egyptian children. This involves brainstorming ideas on paper, building models with LEGO® bricks or other materials, and explaining their ideas to the class in five-minute presentations.

Subject:
Applied Science
Architecture and Design
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Anthony Trinh
Bryan Licciadri
Heather Blackwell
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Design and Test a Ping-Pong Paddle
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Educational Use
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Emphasizing the design, build, and test steps of the engineering design process, groups create a ping-pong paddle. After building their paddle, students conduct tests and compare their design to a store-bought paddle and use a Venn diagram to organize their information. Based on their results, students write product reviews for their paddle. This project allows students to build and test a design, iterate upon that design as well as explore how data analysis of a product works.

Subject:
Applied Science
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
Activities
Author:
Kelsey Mongeon
Michelle Kuhlman
Date Added:
03/27/2019
Designing Polymers to Clean Water
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Educational Use
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Students learn the concept behind the engineering design of a polymer brush—a coating consisting of polymers that is “tethered” to a particular surface. Polymer brushes can be used on water filtration membranes as an antifouling coating. After designing a model that represents an antifouling polymer brush coating for a water filtration surface, students take on the challenge to engineer their brush design on the surface of a Styrofoam block (which serves as a model for a surface filter) using various materials.

Subject:
Applied Science
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
Activities
Author:
Chinyere Enemchukwu
Christina Crawford
Dr. Carolyn Nichol
Dr. Rafael Verduzco
Hao Mei
Date Added:
08/28/2019
Designing a Color-Changing Paint Using pH
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How can an understanding of pH—a logarithmic scale used to identify the acidity or basicity of a water-based solution—be used to design and create a color-changing paint? This activity provides students the opportunity to extract dyes from natural products and test dyes for acids or bases as teams develop a prototype “paint” that is eventually applied to help with a wall redesign at a local children’s hospital. Students learn about how dyes are extracted from organic material and use the engineering design process to test dyes using a variety of indicators to achieve the right color for their prototype. Students iterate on their dyes and use ratios and proportions to calculate the amount of dye needed to successfully complete their painting project.

Subject:
Applied Science
Chemistry
Engineering
Mathematics
Numbers and Operations
Physical Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
Activities
Author:
Benjamin McCombs
Carly Monfort
Joseph Duncan
Linda Gillum
Miyong Hughes
Date Added:
01/30/2019
Designing a Package that Works
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Educational Use
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Student teams act as engineers and brainstorm, design, create and test their ideas for packaging to protect a raw egg shipped in a 9 x 12-in envelope. They follow the steps of the engineering design process and aim for a successful solution with no breakage, low weight, minimal materials and recyled/reused materials. Students come to understand the multi-faceted engineering considerations associated with the packaging of items to preserve, market and safely transport goods.

Subject:
Applied Science
Architecture and Design
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Martha Cyr
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Designing a Robotic Surgical Device
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Educational Use
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Student teams create laparoscopic surgical robots designed to reduce the invasiveness of diagnosing endometriosis and investigate how the disease forms and spreads. Using a synthetic abdominal cavity simulator, students test and iterate their remotely controlled, camera-toting prototype devices, which must fit through small incisions, inspect the organs and tissue for disease, obtain biopsies, and monitor via ongoing wireless image-taking. Note: This activity is the core design project for a semester-long, three-credit high school engineering course. Refer to the associated curricular unit for preparatory lessons and activities.

Subject:
Applied Science
Engineering
Health, Medicine and Nursing
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Benjamin S. Terry
Brandi N. Briggs
Denise W. Carlson
Stephanie Rivale
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Does It Work? Test and Test Again
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Educational Use
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Testing is critical to any design, whether the creation of new software or a bridge across a wide river. Despite risking the quality of the design, the testing stage is often hurried in order to get products to market. In this lesson, students focus on the testing phase of the software/systems design process. They start by exploring existing examples of program testing using the CodingBat website, which contains a series of problems and challenges that students solve using the Java programming language. Working in teams, students practice writing test cases for other groups' code, and then write test cases for a program before writing the program itself.

Subject:
Applied Science
Computing and Information
Education
Engineering
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Brian Sandall
Janet Yowell
Ryan Stejskal
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Does My Model Valve Stack up to the Real Thing?
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Educational Use
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Following the steps of the iterative engineering design process, student teams use what they learned in the previous lessons and activity in this unit to research and choose materials for their model heart valves and test those materials to compare their properties to known properties of real heart valve tissues. Once testing is complete, they choose final materials and design and construct prototype valve models, then test them and evaluate their data. Based on their evaluations, students consider how they might redesign their models for improvement and then change some aspect of their models and retest aiming to design optimal heart valve models as solutions to the unit's overarching design challenge. They conclude by presenting for client review, in both verbal and written portfolio/report formats, summaries and descriptions of their final products with supporting data.

Subject:
Applied Science
Engineering
Health, Medicine and Nursing
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Michael Duplessis
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Don't Bump into Me!
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Educational Use
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Students' understanding of how robotic ultrasonic sensors work is reinforced in a design challenge involving LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT robots and ultrasonic sensors. Student groups program their robots to move freely without bumping into obstacles (toy LEGO people). They practice and learn programming skills and logic design in parallel. They see how robots take input from ultrasonic sensors and use it to make decisions to move, resulting in behavior similar to the human sense of sight but through the use of sound sensors, more like echolocation. Students design-test-redesign-retest to achieve successful programs. A PowerPoint® presentation and pre/post quizzes are provided.

Subject:
Applied Science
Career and Technical Education
Electronic Technology
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Nishant Sinha
Pranit Samarth
Satish S. Nair
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Don't Crack Humpty
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Educational Use
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Student groups are provided with a generic car base on which to design a device/enclosure to protect an egg on or in the car as it rolls down a ramp at increasing slopes. During this in-depth physics/science/technology activity, student teams design, build and test their creations to meet the design challenge, and are expected to perform basic mathematical calculations using collected data, including a summative cost to benefit ratio.

Subject:
Applied Science
Engineering
Physical Science
Physics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Justin Riley
Ryan St. Gelais
Scott Beaurivage
Date Added:
09/18/2014