Category: Engineering Design Process

  • To Mars and Back

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    Humans have dreamed of visiting Mars since the 1880s, but getting there isn’t easy. Using a game board modeled after the orbits of Mars and Earth, student teams will plot a course to Mars and back. As they plan their Mars mission, students will use the same navigation method that NASA uses for interplanetary travel – the Hohmann Transfer Orbit. You can use this STEM activity, and the included Rover’s slideshow to introduce a Solar System unit or a Mars rover design project. In addition to planning their voyage, students will also learn the uses, design, and history of space rovers from 1970 to the present. The full bundle includes the following:

    • PowerPoint slideshow to introduce teams to Rovers
    • Differentiated lesson plan to explain the requirements and methodology of the Mars Mission activity
    • Spreadsheet with Hohmann transfer orbit cycles
    • Video links that explain and demonstrate the Hohmann Transfer Orbit method
    • Teacher Notes and charts

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  • SketchUp Mars Rover Activity

    SketchUp is a 3D modeling software used by engineers, architects, and designers around the world. It is very powerful and can be used to build highly detailed models.

    This step-by-step worksheet guides novice SketchUp users as they build a 3D model of a Mars rover chassis and wheels. Each step has a clear explanation and screenshot. The model is basic so that students can concentrate on the core tools needed to be successful with SketchUp.

    This step-by-step guide works well with the companion slideshow, SketchUp Fundamentals – Mars Rover Edition.

    If your students enjoy building the rover chassis, consider adding the SketchUp Mars Rover Expansion Pack to your Mars unit. This add-on product builds on the rover chassis by adding a cargo box, passenger bench, dashboard, windshield, and steering wheel.

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  • Discover the Skies with Kites

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    This four-lesson unit uses an engineering approach to build a kite. Teams test their material options, then select their sail and spar materials. While building the kite, students use tools such as a wood file, side cutting pliers, and sandpaper. Don’t forget the safety glasses!  The unit features a customizable design challenge, kite design options, and a budget-conscious material list. Created by a teacher/engineer writing team, this bundle includes procedures and technical tips to aid teachers as they troubleshoot design problems.

    Discover the Skies With Kites is packed with graphical resources, notebook inserts, and helpful tips from a teacher and engineer.

    Lesson One supports include:

    • Testing Kite Materials videos for testing sails and spars
    • Two slideshows to support lesson one:
      • An Introduction to Kites
      • Kites in Flight, an introduction to principles of flight
    • Two teacher support documents
    • Three lab worksheets for students (sail testing, spar testing, and kite design)

    Lesson Two supports include:

    • Two slideshows to support lesson two:
      • Craftsman’s Way (a tool to introduce criteria for quality work)
      • Cloud Banners (examples of ways kites can be used)
    • One Google Sheet for converting DL units to centimeters
    • One Student Lab sheet that outlines how to make a model and why a model is useful
    • One teacher’s key for checking student work

    Lesson Three supports include:

    • One slideshow: Kite Blueprints (to help students read a kite template/blueprint)
    • One student Lab sheet that to help students make a pattern for their sail
    • One teacher key for checking student work

    Lesson Four supports include:

    • Step-by-step guides for building three classic kites: diamond, delta, and sled.

    BONUS: The bundle includes an illustrated knot tying handout and Step-by-Step instructions for a testing platform called the Gizmo Rig. The Gizmo Rig is useful for a host of STEM applications.

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  • Engineering Design Template

    The Engineering Design Process (EDP) is an iterative process for developing and improving an object or process. Engineers use this process for assignments like designing a car, building software, designing a hospital, or any number of other projects.

    Download our template to get started helping your students visualize the process!


  • Building an Electric Circuit Game

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    This 40-minute lesson uses a design-based approach to build a familiar favorite, the electric circuit game. Teams use what they know about electric circuits to solve the problem of making a quiz game. They discuss and then map out their ideas for building a working game in their science research notebook (SRN) using electric symbols. While building their game students use electrical tools such as needle-nose pliers, wire strippers, and a voltmeter.

    The lesson includes

    • step-by-step instructions for the teacher,
    • a game board template,
    • an electric symbol handout, and
    • BONUS slideshow for Drawing Electric Circuits

    This lesson was created by a teacher/engineer writing team and includes a number of technical tips to aid teachers as they troubleshoot design problems.

    BONUS: Say goodbye to messy research notebook sketches that depict electrical projects like a plate of spaghetti! The Drawing Electric Circuits slideshow invites students to visualize their electrical circuits in a new way. Using simple examples, this presentation guides students through the process of making electrical diagrams which includes FREE download includes an Electrical Symbol handout sized perfectly to fit in your students’ research notebooks.

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