Students become product engineers in a bouncy ball factory as they design and prototype a polymer bouncy ball that meets specific requirements: must be spherical in shape, cannot disintegrate when thrown on the ground, and, of course, must bounce. Along with these design elements, students can build (with teacher assistance) a “shadow box” that helps measure the contact angle of the polymer that provides data on how to iterate. In addition, students must consider the aesthetics of their bouncy balls for customer approval and marketing purposes. Using the engineering design process, students design and create bouncy balls from polymers to create a fun, exciting toy for children.
Students create projects that introduce them to Arduino—a small device that can be easily programmed to control and monitor a variety of external devices like LEDs and sensors. First they learn a few simple programming structures and commands to blink LEDs. Then they are given three challenges—to modify an LED blinking rate until it cannot be seen, to replicate a heartbeat pattern and to send Morse code messages. This activity prepares students to create more involved multiple-LED patterns in the Part 2 companion activity.
In the companion activity, students experimented with Arduino programming to blink a single LED. During this activity, students build on that experience as they learn about breadboards and how to hook up multiple LEDs and control them individually so that they can complete a variety of challenges to create fun patterns! To conclude, students apply the knowledge they have gained to create LED-based light sculptures.
Whether you want to light up a front step or a bathroom, it helps to have a light come on automatically when darkness falls. For this maker challenge, students create their own night-lights using Arduino microcontrollers, photocells and (supplied) code to sense light levels and turn on/off LEDs as they specify. As they build, test, and control these night-lights, they learn about voltage divider circuits and then experience the fundamental power of microcontrollers—controlling outputs (LEDs) based on sensor (photocell) input readings and if/then/else commands. Then they are challenged to personalize (and complicate) their night-lights—such as by using delays to change the LED blinking rate to reflect the amount of ambient light, or use many LEDs and several if/else statements with ranges to create a light meter. The possibilities are unlimited!
Students are challenged to design their own small-sized prototype light sculptures to light up a hypothetical courtyard. To accomplish this, they use Arduino microcontrollers as the “brains” of the projects and control light displays composed of numerous (3+) light-emitting diodes (LEDs). With this challenge, students further their learning of Arduino fundamentals by exploring one important microcontroller capability—the control of external circuits. The Arduino microcontroller is a powerful yet easy-to-learn platform for learning computer programing and electronics. LEDs provide immediate visual success/failure feedback, and the unlimited variety of possible results are dazzling!
Follow the journey of Caine from his early days of create cardboard games for people waiting at his family's business to the international Cardboard Challenge Day of Play.
The City X Project is an international educational workshop for 8-12 year-old students that teaches creative problem solving using 3D printing technologies and the design process. This 6-10 hour workshop is designed for 3rd-6th grade classrooms but can be adapted to fit a variety of environments. Read a full overview of the experience here: http://www.cityxproject.com/workshop/
Bluetooth is everywhere—from smartphones to computers to cars. Even though students are exposed to this technology, many are not aware of how they can use it themselves to wirelessly control their own creative projects! For this challenge, students build on what they learned during a previous Arduino maker challenge, Make and Control a Servo Arm with Your Computer, and learn how to control a servo with an Android phone (iPhones do not work with the components used in this challenge). By the end of the exercise, expect students to be wirelessly controlling a servo with a simple phone application!
Students are given the engineering challenge to design and build doghouses that shelter a (toy) puppy from the heat—and to create them within material, size and cost constraints. This requires them to apply what they know (or research) about light energy and how it does (or does not) travel through various materials, as well as how a material’s color affects its light absorption and reflection properties. They build their doghouse designs and test them by taking thermometer readings under hot lamps, and then think of ways to improve their designs. This is a great project for learning about light and heat: energy transfer, absorption, insulation and material properties, and easily scales up/down for size and materials.
Students are introduced to servos and the flex sensor as they create simple, one-jointed, finger robots controlled by Arduino. Servos are motors with feedback and are extensively used in industrial and consumer applications—from large industrial car-manufacturing robots that use servos to hold heavy metal and precisely weld components together, to prosthetic hands that rely on servos to provide fine motor control. Students use Arduino microcontrollers and flex sensors to read finger flexes, which they process to send angle information to the servos. Students create working circuits; use the constrain, map and smoothing commands; learn what is meant by library and abstraction in a coding context; and may even combine team finger designs to create a complete prosthetic hand of bendable fingers.
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.
This is a highly adaptable outline for how design thinking could be introduced to your learners over a multi-day project. This plan works best if students are divided up into groups of 3-4 for all work except the introduction to each concept at the beginning of class. Learners should stay in the same group for the whole class.
Includes pre-work links, general instructions to guide planning for each day, design thinking student handouts, and multi-grade NGSS standards linked to design thinking.
Students design and create their own nano-polymer smartphone or tablet case. Students choose their design, mix their nano-polymer (based in silicone) with starch and add coloring of their choice. While thinking critically about their design, students embed strings in the nano-polymer to optimize both case strength and flexibility. Students may apply strings in a variety of ways in order to maximize their individual design’s potential. Determining the best mixing ratio is also key for success in this challenge.
Students program the drive motors of a SparkFun RedBot with a multistep control sequence—a “dance.” Doing this is a great introduction to robotics and improves overall technical literacy by helping students understand that we use programs to control the motion and function of robots, and without the correct programming, robots do not operate as intended and are unable to complete simple tasks that we count on them to perform. Students are given the basic code and then time to experiment, alter and evolve it on their own. As time permits, students may also want to construct and decorate frames and chassis for their robots using found/recycled materials such as cardboard boxes.
This biomimetic engineering challenge introduces students to the fields of nanotechnology and biomimicry. Students explore how to modify surfaces such as wood or cotton fabric at the nanoscale. They create specialized materials with features such as waterproofing and stain resistance. The challenge starts with student teams identifying an intended user and developing scenarios for using their developed material. Students then design and create their specialized material using everyday materials. Each students test each design under specific testing constraints to determine the hydrophobicity of the material. After testing, teams iterate ways to improve their self-cleaning superhydrophobic modification technique for their design. After iterating and testing their designs, students present their final product and results to the class.
Students learn about the engineering design process and how products may be reinvented to serve new purposes. Working in groups, students design a type of slime. After creating their slime, the teacher turns out the lights and the students see that the slime they made actually glows in the dark! The groups investigate how to take their new discoveries and apply them to industrial applications. Once they have determined a use for their glowing slime, each group must build/design and test their product outside of class. The groups then create advertisements (videos, brochures, performances, etc.) for their new product(s) or application(s), and present to the judges for review similar to a “Shark Tank” environment.
Activities, resources, photos and videos from ISKME's two day professional development teacher training that explores Open Educational Resources (OER) and Maker-Teacher collaborations to facilitate innovation in the classroom. The Makers’ projects are points of inspiration for Teachers while they engage in design-thinking activities to create, remix, and share OER Projects with online collaborative tools.
Microcontrollers are the brains of the electronic world, but in order to play with one, you must first get it connected! For this maker challenge, students learn how to connect their Arduino microcontroller circuit boards to computers. First, students are walked through the connection process, helped to troubleshoot common pitfalls, and write their first Arduino programs (setup and loop functions, semicolons, camel case, pin 13 LED). Then they are given the open-ended challenge to create their own blinking LED code—such as writing Morse code messages and mimicking the rhythm of a heartbeat. This practice helps students become comfortable with the fundamental commands before progressing to more difficult programs.
Students design a cooler and monitor the effectiveness of its ability to keep a bottle of ice water cold in comparison to a bottle of ice water left at room temperature. Students have the opportunity to brainstorm a design of their cooler and its attributes. They then choose from the materials provided to create a prototype. They have the opportunity to test their prototype by measuring the room temperature, the starting temperature of the water and graphing and monitoring the change in temperature over increments time in comparison to the room temperature water.
Students control small electric motors with Arduino microcontrollers to make simple sticky-note spinning fans and then explore other variations of basic motor systems. Through this exercise, students create circuits that include transistors acting as switches. They alter and experiment with given basic motor code, learning about the Arduino analogWrite command and pulse width modulation (PWM). Students learn the motor system nuances that enable them to create their own motor-controlled projects. They are challenged to make their motor systems respond to temperature or light, to control speed with knob or soft potentiometers, and/or make their motors go in reverse (using a motor driver shield or an H-bridge). Electric motors are used extensively in industrial and consumer products and the fundamental principles that students learn can be applied to motors of all shapes and sizes.