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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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Research: Using ‘F Words’ in Elementary STEM

rubber duck upside downFailure – and learning from it – is integral to engineering design but shunned in most classrooms. ASEE PreK-12 engineering authorities Elizabeth A. Parry and Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue examined how elementary teachers’ perspective and use of “fail words” can change to support inquiry and learning.

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STEM PD: Integrating Engineering Design

ASEE 2016 K12 workshop trash slidersDiscover how to use the engineering design process to enrich your students’ math and science learning in an immersive, week-long course presented by the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation and endorsed by ASEE. Register by June 15, 2017 for sessions starting June 26 (River Falls, WI) and July 22 (Philadelphia, PA).

Photo from 2016 ASEE K-12 Engineering Education Workshop design activity

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Lesson: Map the Green Space

A City Garden in ChicagoStudents in grades 5-9 learn about urban planning as they assess the environmental health of their community, taking a walk around their neighborhood. They construct a map that identifies both positive and negative features and then recommend improvements.

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Fancy Feet

high heel shoe designTeams of middle school students use the engineering design process to design, build, and test a pair of wearable platform or high-heeled shoes, taking into consideration the stress and strain on the wearer’s foot. They activity concludes with a “walk-off” to test the shoe designs and discuss the design process.

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Trash Sliders

Trash sliders at 2015 ASEE K12 workshopIn this activity, teams of middle school students express their creativity while learning the fundamentals of engineering design, sustainability, and the basic physics of forces and motion by building a vehicle out of recycled trash that is capable of transporting liquid over rough terrain with as little spillage as possible.

Note: This activity can be scaled for high school or upper elementary students.

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How the Rubber Meets the Road

tire in rainIn this hands-on activity, teams of students in grades 3 to 12 learn how engineers design tire treads to increase safety and reliability, then follow the design process to construct, test, and evaluate treads sculpted from clay that will be safe when driving in heavy rain.

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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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Give Me a Brake!

Bike brake

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