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Shapes of Strength

house of cards with coins on topStudents in grades 3 to 5 use engineering problem solving to create structures from paper, straws, tape, and paper clips that can support the weight of at least one textbook. For the second trial, they examine examples of successful buildings in history and try again.

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Building Bridges to Literature

Concord Hymn rude bridge poemDesigning, building, and testing bridges can help students develop teamwork and problem-solving skills along with inspiring their interest in engineering. Such hands-on projects also can fuel an interest in reading about bridges. Here are some notable titles that might strike a chord with your budding civil and structural engineers.

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The Eiffel Tower Turns 125

eiffel towerThe world’s most visited man-made monument turned 125 this year. Built for the Paris World’s Fair of 1889, French engineer Gustave Eiffel’s famous tower attracted scorn before it opened. But its role as a research lab for weather, aviation, and telecommunications helped ensure its longevity.

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‘Vertical’ Engineers Get Capital View

washington monument engineer1Structural engineer Emma Cardini has inspected some pretty impressive facades, including the Chicago Tribune Tower’s ornate spires and the Bridge of the Americas in Panama. Still, nothing compares with the capital bird’s eye view she literally enjoys on her latest job: rappelling down the marble sides of the Washington Monument to assess the damage from late August’s 5.8-magnitude earthquake.

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Pipe-Cleaner Towers

pipe cleanersIn this short, fun activity for students in grades 2 to 12, teams learn about the engineering design process, including constraints on time and materials, by building the tallest free-standing tower out of pipe-cleaners.

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Engineering Map of America

Trans-Alaska pipelineWhat do the Trans-Alaska pipeline, Brooklyn Bridge, and aviatrix Amelia Earhart have in common? They’re all featured on a new, interactive map of America’s greatest engineering feats and engineering-education milestones developed by PBS’s American Experience with organizations like the American Society for Engineering Education.

U.S. Geological Survey/photo of trans-Alaskan pipeline by Dave Houseknecht

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Hands-on Hits of 2011

activitiesYou don’t have to be an engineer to introduce engineering concepts and design into your classroom. The eGFI site includes scores of inexpensive, engaging lessons – searchable by grade level or subject – that cover the various engineering disciplines. To kick off the school year and acquaint you with eGFI, we’ve assembled a dozen of 2011’s most popular lessons and activities. Have fun putting some “E” in your STEM classes this semester!

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Exhibits: The Skyscraper Museum, NYC

skyscraper2

New York City’s Skyscraper Museum celebrates a rich architectural heritage and examines the historical forces and individuals that have shaped its successive skylines. Through exhibitions, programs and publications, the museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence. Cost: $5, $2.50 for students and seniors.

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Event: Engineering at Des Plaines, IL. Oct. 16, 2010

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Des Plaines Public Library will sponsor a day of engineering exploration for children in grades 3-8, Sat., Oct. 16, 2010, with interactive displays and fun, educational presentations designed to enhance interest in engineering, math, and science. Engineers Bob Johnson, Chas Hague, and others will introduce budding young engineers to the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois exhibit. Cost: Free.

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