This 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.
The Tower of Power
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.
To build the tallest freestanding structure possible measured from the table surface to the top of the structure.
The Mousetrap Contraptions
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?
Design and build a car that utilizes a mousetrap as its source of motion.
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.
Design & prototype a machine which will roll over a well, or other deep pit, and rescue a trapped person, animal or piece of equipment.
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.
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.
Thank you for your continued support.