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Engineering Football Safety

UAB football crash dummiesIn the movie Concussion, Will Smith plays a Pittsburgh pathologist who uncovered a link between repeated concussions and brain damage in professional football players.
Engineers can’t change behavior. But they can design better helmets and other gear to reduce injuries. Some engineering students even play the game!

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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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Lesson: Safety Gear and Helmets

Football HelmetIn this lesson, students in grades 6-8 learn the basic engineering issues related to helmet design, specifically the physics of collisions and the biomechanics considerations of design. Students then identify and solve design challenges, create a poster representation of their solutions, and present them to their peers. Finally, students will learn about the dangers of not wearing a helmet in certain sports.

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Activity: Build an Earthquake-proof Structure

StrawsStudents in grades 6-12 are challenged to build a drinking straw tower that can withstand simulated earthquake vibrations and increasing weight and pressure. Doing so, they learn basic principles of design and earthquake engineering while practicing team skills.

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Lesson: MRI Safety Challenge

Modern MRIThinking like safety engineers, students in grades 11 and 12 examine the potential risks associated with magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. They gather information by brainstorming, writing in journals, and viewing a video, and then produce a final presentation that concisely summarizes MRI technology and safety precautions.

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Lesson: Egg Drop

EggsThe egg drop is a fun and dramatic way to get students involved in engineering design. After a discussion of safety features, students experiment packaging an egg to produce a design that will allow it to fall from a considerable height without cracking.

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