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Lesson: Sound Booth Construction

sound booth1In this activity, students in grades 7-9 explore the sound-dampening capability of materials by designing and prototyping model sound booths. They learn about how sound is reflected and absorbed, and how it travels through various materials, providing an overview of sound dampening propagation in the context of engineering.

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Lesson: Harmless Holder

harmless holder1In this activity, teams of kids in grades 4-7 follow the engineering design process to invent a holder for six cans that’s animal-safe, sturdy, convenient, and easy to carry. They learn why discarded plastic rings can be a problem for wildlife and brainstorm animal-friendly ways to package six cans. They then build, test, and redesign their system and discuss what happened.

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Lesson: Bits & Binary

binaryIn this activity, students in grades 4 – 12 will do math like a computer. They will learn the basics of binary number systems by writing and then counting on their hands, and use their knowledge to decode numbers and letters.

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Lesson: Can-Do Canoe

canoeIn this activity, teams of students in grades 3-12 explore the engineering design process by building model canoes from everyday materials and testing their design in a basin. The canoes must be able to float for three minutes and, for older students, support a load. Students then evaluate the effectiveness of their canoes and those of other teams, and present their findings to the class.

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Lesson: Cookie Mining

cookiesIn this game, teams of students in grades 3 – 8 are introduced to the economics and environmental constraints of mining by extracting “ore” (chocolate chips) from purchased “property” (cookies). They will learn that mining requires investment before resources can be extracted, and that there are costs associated with permits, environmental monitoring, and reclamation.

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Lesson: That (Motion) Captures It!

motionIn this activity, students in grades 5 – 7 learn how motion capture technology (mo-cap) enables computer animators to create realistic effects. They learn the importance of center of gravity in animation and how to use the concept in writing an action scene.

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Lesson: Made to Sail

sailboat3In this lesson, students in grades 2 – 7 use simple materials to design and make model sailboats that must stay upright and sail straight in a testing tank. They will learn the basic components of a ship and how design represents a tradeoff between speed, stability, and ease of handling.

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Marshmallow Design Challenge

marshmallow3In this lesson, K-12 student teams have a limited period of time (18 minutes) to build the tallest free-standing spaghetti structure that can support a marshmallow. They learn how engineers collaborate to design, test, and improve on their ideas, as well as examine hidden assumptions that can derail the creative process and final product.

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Lesson: Design From Nature

sunflowerIn this lesson, students in grades 6-8 discover how engineers can use biomimicry to enhance their designs. They learn how careful observation of nature — in this case, reverse engineering a flower — can lead to new innovations and products.

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