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Build a Better Candy Bag

bag of candy cornIn this activity, students in grades 3 to 12 learn how design differences can affect the success of a final product by working in pairs to evaluate, design, and build a better candy bag. They must predict the volume and strength of their designs, test and redesign the bag based on its ability to hold weight, discuss findings, and share results.

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Ripening Fruit in Space

spaceship shaped like appleIn this NASA activity, students in grades 1-8 learn about the challenges of space nutrition and designing food packaging by observing, measuring, comparing, and contrasting the ripening of fruits and vegetables when exposed to air and the effect of chemical treatments to inhibit ripening.

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Are We Alone?

young astronaut looking for life on mars The year is 2032 and your middle-school explorers have successfully achieved a manned mission to Mars! After establishing criteria to help look for signs of life, they conduct a scientific experiment in which they evaluate three “Martian” soil samples and determine if any contains life.

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Get Me Off This Planet!

spaceship illustration on marsIn this lesson to teach middle school students how a spacecraft gets from the surface of the Earth to Mars, students first investigate rockets and how they are able to get us into space, then discuss the nature of an orbit as well as how orbits enable us to get from planet to planet.

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NAE Connects Educators with Experts

LinkEngineeringAs a teacher, you’re supposed to have all the answers–but you know that sometimes, you just don’t. What if you always had an engineering expert to provide inspiration and advice? The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) recently announced the launch of LinkEngineering, a new website that connects preK-12 teachers with engineering experts, fellow educators, lesson plans, tips, and tools.

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Disaster-Proof Housing

storm damaged house illustrationIn this activity for middle school science, high school physics, or engineering, groups of students explore the housing crisis caused by natural disasters by applying appropriate technology and fluid mechanics to design sustainable shelters that can withstand flooding and high winds.

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Paper Penny Bridge

stacks of penniesIn this activity, student teams in grades 8 and up learn about the engineering design process and physical forces by building a bridge from a single sheet of paper and up to five paper clips that will span 20 cm and support the weight of 100 pennies. Like real engineers, teams also have limited budgets and must make trade-offs in materials.

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Groundwater Pollution Detectives

Water pumpTeams of students in grades 5 to 7 locate a contaminant spill in a hypothetical site by measuring the pH of soil samples. They then predict the direction of groundwater flow using mathematical modeling and use the engineering design process to come up with alternative treatments for the contaminated water.

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Inspirational Math

female geometry studentMath can be a tough sell. Many students think it’s too hard, or that they’re no good at it. It doesn’t have to be this way, says Stanford Graduate School of Education Professor Jo Boaler, who has designed a free program for teachers to change mindsets and inspire their fifth through ninth graders to think more deeply in mathematics.

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