This Week in the Classroom: Top Ten Middle School #MakerEd Challenges (Plus Two!)

Top Ten Middle School #MakerEd Challenges (Plus Two!).jpgThis Week in the Classroom I’m going to explore a variety of design challenges that I use in my classroom. I designed each of these projects to prompt students to explore the engineering design process, learn basic scientific concepts, such as forces and loads on structures, learn executive functioning and soft skills, and develop presentation skills in a variety of media. These projects are designed to be super flexible in practice. I can extend these projects, compress the time, develop thematic elements. None of these projects use expensive materials or electronics. Some of these project briefs I use nearly every year, in nearly every course. They are simply that good.

20180830_145642.jpgThe Tower of Power

Version 1:

To build the strongest platform possible measured as a ratio between mass of load and the mass of the tower out of five index cards and tape.

Version 2:

To build the tallest freestanding structure possible measured from the table surface to the top of the structure.

The Mousetrap Contraptions

Mousetrap Catapult

Design and build a catapult that you can use to launch a ping pong ball consistently. How far can you launch your ping pong ball?

Mousetrap Car

Design and build a car that utilizes a mousetrap as its source of motion.

The Breakerspace – Plushie Autopsy

Desconstruct (or destruct!) a broken toy or electronic device. Carefully photograph, sketch and label the toy/electronic and determine the reason and location of its failure.

Rescue Machine

20181017_145821Design & prototype a machine which will roll over a well, or other deep pit, and rescue a trapped person, animal or piece of equipment.

The Elephant’s Foot20180925_1423100

Design a prosthetic leg which will fit an elephant. The prosthetic should be able to hold the elephant’s weight, stay securely attached, cannot be heavier than the leg being replaced, be used in a variety of motions: standing, scrambling up, walking, running.

Cardboard Carnival20180917_111513.jpg

Develop and construct an arcade that brings the audience joy, fits on a desktop and has at least one moving part.

Digital Design Challenges

These are a variety of design prompts centered around the Ulitmaker Design Challenge from 2017 and the 7th grade Virginia Social Studies scope and sequence. Students can choose a variety of these design prompts as part of my Computer Aided-Design and 3D Printing module.

Digital Design Challenges

Post-World War II to Vietnam

Reconstruction to Gilded Age

Fidget Spinners


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