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Disaster Engineering

Hurricane Maria strands PR familiesHurricanes, earthquakes, and other destructive events offer timely “teachable moments” about the role of engineers in improving weather forecasts and reducing the toll from natural disasters. eGFI Teachers’s collection of activities, feature articles, and other resources can help you integrate engineering into your classes – and inspire the next generation of “crisis” engineers.

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Building for Hurricanes

hurricane tower challengeIn this engineering design challenge about building in hurricane-prone regions, students learn that a solid base helps stabilize a structure by constructing, testing, and redesigning a tower that can support a tennis ball at least 18 inches off the ground while withstanding the wind from a fan.
Note: While suitable for all ages, this activity works best with upper elementary students and older.

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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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Pipe-Cleaner Towers

pipe cleanersIn this short, fun activity for students in grades 2 to 12, teams learn about the engineering design process, including constraints on time and materials, by building the tallest free-standing tower out of pipe-cleaners.

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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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What a Dump!

landfillIn this activity, teams of students in grades 5 to 7 learn about environmental, civil, and sanitation engineering by designing and building model landfills that hold the most garbage, minimize costs, and prevent trash and contaminated “rainwater” from polluting the nearby “city.” Teams test their landfills, and graph and compare designs for capacity, cost, and performance.

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The Engineering Design Process

design processSafer highways. Cool phone apps. Green buildings. Thrilling roller coasters. What do all these things have in common? All bear the stamp of engineering design – a process of brainstorming, building, testing, and refining to create a product, service, or system within time or resource limits.

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Hands-on Hits of 2011

activitiesYou don’t have to be an engineer to introduce engineering concepts and design into your classroom. The eGFI site includes scores of inexpensive, engaging lessons – searchable by grade level or subject – that cover the various engineering disciplines. To kick off the school year and acquaint you with eGFI, we’ve assembled a dozen of 2011’s most popular lessons and activities. Have fun putting some “E” in your STEM classes this semester!

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