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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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Origami Engineering

Jan 2013 Prism cover origami engineeringCould origami engineering be the next big thing in manufacturing? Researchers say that the Japanese art of folding paper could have practical implications ranging from minimally invasive surgical aids to highly efficient capture of solar energy and giant space telescopes that fit into a small payload. And their work has evolved into a well-funded fount of innovation.

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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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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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Ball Bounce Experiment

soccer ball jugglingIn this activity, elementary students in grades 3 to 5 learn about reverse engineering and how to collect and represent data graphically by investigating different balls and their abilities to bounce.

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Cardboard Pedal Pusher

cardboard bikeIzhar Gafni’s eureka moment came a few years ago when he heard about a cardboard canoe and wondered: “Why not a cardboard bicycle?” It took several years of trial-and-error work before he succeeded in building a reliable model that weighs a mere 20 pounds, is stronger than carbon fiber, and costs only about $10 to make.

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Digest This!

multicolor pills Student teams in grades 6-8 reinforce their knowledge of the digestive system and explore the concepts of simulation and the engineering design process by developing a pill coating that can withstand the churning and acidic environment of the stomach. They test the coating’s durability using a clear soda to simulate gastric acid.

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Student’s Invention Could Prevent Concussions

BYU student invents smart foamBrigham Young University engineering student Jake Merrell has created a “smart foam” that could be placed inside the helmets of football players to measure the impact of hits to the head, and could help prevent concussions while players are int the game.

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Videos: Material Marvels

Ainissa RamirezAinissa Ramirez, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science at Yale, explains the wonders of her ever-expanding field in a series of YouTube videos. In the latest, she describes how a layer of carbon that is one atom thick, called graphene, will revolutionize our lives.

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