Dive into Design

Learn how to engage your students in the engineering design process through participation in hands-on design challenges. Staff will experience two mini design challenges related to The Tech Challenge 2015 on Seismic Engineering. All staff will leave with two age-appropriate design challenges they can use at their site(s) and the option of taking their creation. Come build your own solutions and see how much fun this would be to do with students of all ages and backgrounds.

The Challenge: Build a skyscraper that has limited roof drift.

Dowels and Rubber Bands I

Kids build structures with 3-foot dowels and rubber bands. There are many ways to build and to make things stand up, but making things stable is not a trivial task. You can make things that are very big – even big enough for several children to get inside

Happy City

Happy City is a design activity exploring circuits, conductivity and community. Kids add things to a city model to make it a happier place, using LEDs, batteries and motors (optional) to make their creations do something. Since the kids decide for themselves what would make the city a happy place, they become invested in what they’re making and how it will work. This kind of problem-defining and problem-solving is at the heart of engineering design. The activity can inspire great conversations about electricity or community.

Extreme Trampolines

A great deal of science and engineering goes in to building a trampoline. Through this activity, participants explore different materials and how their properties affect a trampoline’s ability to make something bounce as high as possible or as low as possible off its surface.

The goal of this challenge is to build a trampoline that can make a golf ball bounce as high or as low as possible off its surface. Working in small teams, participants use a variety of materials to design, build, and test their trampolines in our trampoline testers. Participants think and build like engineers as they experience the design process to make improvements to their trampolines through redesigning and retesting prototypes.

Microbots

Visitors will challenge their creativity and dexterity to build tiny robot-esque creations using small, recycled materials.
Limiting materials to a few repetitive parts forces visitors to think laterally about material use (“if all I have are screws and capacitors, how can I transform them into all the different parts that I need?” Rather than, “this part already looks like an arm, so I’ll use it as an arm” ) while restricting the size of the creations encourages visitors to invest extra thought and care into detailed objects they can hold in one hand. Up close and personal = detailed and intimate!

Toy Mash-Up

Participants take apart toys to create a new character. They do this by cutting, dissembling and putting pieces together with added embellishments such as buttons, beads, jewels, ribbons, etc. Participants then display their creations for everyone to enjoy.

Roller Coasters

They love to ride them, now they’ll love to build them! Students explore potential and kinetic energy and apply what they learn to build their own roller coasters made of foam tubing, tinker toys, and marbles.