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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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The Eiffel Tower Turns 125

eiffel towerThe world’s most visited man-made monument turned 125 this year. Built for the Paris World’s Fair of 1889, French engineer Gustave Eiffel’s famous tower attracted scorn before it opened. But its role as a research lab for weather, aviation, and telecommunications helped ensure its longevity.

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‘Vertical’ Engineers Get Capital View

washington monument engineer1Structural engineer Emma Cardini has inspected some pretty impressive facades, including the Chicago Tribune Tower’s ornate spires and the Bridge of the Americas in Panama. Still, nothing compares with the capital bird’s eye view she literally enjoys on her latest job: rappelling down the marble sides of the Washington Monument to assess the damage from late August’s 5.8-magnitude earthquake.

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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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Live Like an Animal

prairie dogMiddle school students learn about the engineering design process by building a model of an innovative human shelter inspired and informed by an animal habitat. They then present their work, explaining what attribute of the animal structure influenced their design.

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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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Engineering Map of America

Trans-Alaska pipelineWhat do the Trans-Alaska pipeline, Brooklyn Bridge, and aviatrix Amelia Earhart have in common? They’re all featured on a new, interactive map of America’s greatest engineering feats and engineering-education milestones developed by PBS’s American Experience with organizations like the American Society for Engineering Education.

U.S. Geological Survey/photo of trans-Alaskan pipeline by Dave Houseknecht

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Wind Power for Your Home

wind turbineIn this activity, students in grades 9-11 learn how engineers harness the energy of the wind by following the engineering design process to create and test two prototype wind turbines to see which works best. They also learn about where to place a wind turbine for maximum effectiveness, and to weigh the advantages and disadvantages compared with other energy sources.

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Sochi’s Big Olympics Dig

Sochi Olympic constructionIt takes host cities a lot of time, money, and engineering to prepare for the Olympics, and Sochi, the Russian seaside resort that will welcome athletes and fans from around the world this February, is no exception. Along with luge runs and ice arenas, the area’s 218 Olympic projects include a new high-speed rail and seaport.

A recent Businessweek article estimated the total at $51 billion, making Russia’s games the costliest in history

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