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Engineering for the Three Little Pigs

Three Little Pigs laying bricksStudents learn about the importance of using the right materials for the job by building three different sand castles and testing them for strength and resistance to weathering. They then discuss how the buildings are different and what engineers need to think about when using rocks, soils, and minerals for construction.

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Simple Musical Instruments

Cardboard guitarPairs of students in grades 3 – 5 investigate sound frequencies and acoustic engineering by creating four different instruments – a shoebox guitar, water-glass xylophone, straw panpipe, and soda bottle organ.

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Build a Bobsled Racer

bobsled on track Teams of students in grades 3 to 8 learn about friction, forces, and the engineering design process by building and testing miniature bobsleds to see which can race down an icy slope either the fastest or slowest.

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Build-a-Toy Workshop

toy car engineeringIn this hands-on activity, student teams apply the engineering design process to create prototype toys with moving parts. They set up electric circuits using batteries, wire, and motors, and plan project materials to meet budget constraints.

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Program a Friend

man in mazeIn this activity, students working in pairs learn basic computer programming and software engineering concepts by building an obstacle course, then steering a blindfolded friend through it by using a series of commands. They re-run the maze to improve on their “program.”

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Code Calling

web color chart Computer science has the highest pay for new college graduates, twice the national average job growth of more than double the national average, and applications that stretch from rock music to medicine. Yet 9 in 10 schools don’t teach programming. Code.org hopes to change that with a host of free resources to get kids as young as four creating websites and apps.

The answer is computer programming, and advocates from Microsoft founder Bill Gates to former president Bill Clinton are pushing to include it in the K-12 curriculum.

Far from being complicated algorithms only a geek could master, code writing can be learned by just about anyone — even four-year-olds. Code.org has compiled a host of websites, courses, and other free resources to help students hone programming skills from building websites to creating phone apps. There also are tips for using code writing and programming projects and activities in math or science classes to cover content standards.

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Build a Big Wheel

nysc1In this activity, teams of students in grades K-12 learn about the history and engineering behind Ferris wheels by constructing a working model using pasta, glue, and teabags.

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Watercraft

raft bugIn this activity, students in grades 6 to 8 learn about the engineering design process and the physical principles of buoyancy by working together to build a boat out of straws and plastic wrap that can hold 25 pennies for at least 10 seconds before sinking.

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Lesson: Shake It Up with Seismographs

seismographStudents in grades 3 – 12 explore how the development of seismographs has helped save lives worldwide by working in teams to design their own seismograph from everyday items, test its ability to record a simulated classroom earthquake, evaluate their results, and report to the class.

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