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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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Lesson: No Valve in Vain

heart beatIn this activity, teams of students in grades 6 to 8 will learn about the engineering design process and how a one-way valve works by creating heart valves from tape, plastic tubing, and other materials.

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Lesson: Snack Attack – Food Packaging

cookies in boxIn this activity, teams of middle school students explore the engineering design process and materials used to package food by designing and testing a package for a snack. The goal is for students to understand the basic engineering involved in designing food packaging.

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Lesson: Dance Pad Mania

dance pad revolutionIn this lesson, pairs of students in grades 4 to 7 will learn about the engineering design process and electrical circuits by building a dance pad that sounds a buzzer or flashes a light when stepped on.

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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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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 a Sturdy Paper Table

Paper TableIn this lesson, students in grades 4-7 explore the engineering design process by building a table out of tubes of newspaper that is strong enough to hold a heavy book. They learn to brainstorm, test, evaluate, and redesign their tables to support more weight and figure out how to keep the table legs from buckling.

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Lesson: Construct a Road Sign Support

Overhead Road SignIn this lesson, students in grades 6-12 use simple materials to design, build, and test a model of a free-standing structure used to support overhead road signs. They begin by learning about the engineering design process and researching about support structures. They then work in groups to design and build their own sign supports. The final designs are tested to see how they stand up to two different types of loads.

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Video: How Helmets Are Made

Helmet from VideoThis video from Riddell shows how their protective football helmets are made. The video takes a step-by-step approach and explains how the gear is tested and assembled.

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