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Engineering the National Pastime

baseball and batBaseball traditions may not have changed much, but engineering has helped improve performance, safety, and equipment – including perfecting the swing. Baseball also offers a great context for teaching math and science, and eGFI has compiled some helpful sites.

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Activity: Catapult Marshmallow Launch

MashmallowsThis simple catapult activity for students in grades 4 – 8 teaches them how energy is transferred when a plastic spoon is pulled back, then released, rocketing its payload — a single marshmallow.

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Lesson: Build a Catapult

CatapultIn this lesson, students in grades 4-12 learn about the history of catapults and how they work. They assemble their own catapult model, making adjustments to improve its performance. Students gain engineering experience while learning principles of physics and working with the scientific processes of experimentation and trial and error.

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Contest: NASA’s Sports Design Challenge

Spaced Out Sports ContestStudents in grades 5-8 are invited to participate in Spaced Out Sports, a national design challenge that applies Newton’s Laws of Motion in the design of a game for astronauts of the International Space Station to play in space. The goal is for students to learn the “science behind the game” on Earth and in microgravity. Deadline: February 1, 2011.

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Class Activity: 3-2-1 Pop!

In this simple, exciting demonstration of Newton’s Laws of Motion, students in grades 5-8 construct a rocket powered by the pressure generated from an effervescing antacid tablet reacting with water. They undertake the work of aerospace engineers in exploring design elements that can affect a spacecraft’s performance.

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