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Design Challenge Lessons

Single Session Lessons


Less than one hour

 

Balloon Astronaut
Grades 2-8
Students investigate properties of materials and colliding objects by designing spacesuits for balloon astronauts.  The objective is to design spacesuits that can withstand the hazards of high velocity impacts from space debris and meteoroids.  As students iterate through this design challenge, they gain firsthand experience in the design process. (45 minutes)


Circle of Pong
Grades 3-12
Students use their knowledge of potential and kinetic energy, and explore forces of motion in order to place a ball in the center of a 6-foot diameter circle.  As students iterate through this design challenge, they gain firsthand experience in the design process.  (45 minutes)

Energy at Play
Grades 3-6
Energize your students with this exploration of the way energy transforms and transfers.  Using household items and their knowledge, students will build fun contraptions that will make a ball move and hit a target.  As students iterate through this design challenge, they gain firsthand experience in the design process.  (45 minutes)

Freestanding Structures
Grades 3-8
Students work together to design the tallest structure that can be built utilizing only the materials provided.  As they iterate through this design challenge, they gain firsthand experience in the design process. (30 minutes)

Listening Devices
Grades 3-8
Students design a listening device that will allow them to listen to the sound generated by an object inside a box.  As they iterate through this design challenge, they gain firsthand experience in the design process.  (30 minutes)

Pet Rescue
Grades 3-6
Help rescue a beloved pet trapped in a pipe!  In this design challenge activity students will explore how structure relates to function as they design devices to save Fido.  As they iterate through this design challenge, students gain firsthand experience in the design process.  (50 minutes)

Rover Landing
Grades 3-12
Students explore the concepts of forces and motion as they design protective devices that will enable their ‘Egg Rovers’ to safely land on a surface after being dropped from a designated height.  As students iterate through this design challenge, they gain firsthand experience in the design process.  (30-40 minutes)

Seed Dispersal
Grades 3-8
Students will design, create, and test a structure for a wind dispersed seed.  As they iterate through this design challenge, they gain firsthand experience in the design process.  (45 minutes)
 

One to two hours

Exploring Buoyancy
Grades 3-6
How low can you go?  Students are challenged to use their understanding of buoyancy, density, and pressure to design and build ocean exploring devices.  As students iterate through this design challenge, they gain firsthand experience in the design process.  (60-90 minutes)


Fire Brigade
Grades 3-6
Students demonstrate their knowledge of Newton’s 1st Law of Motion as they engineer a new method for putting out fires.  As they iterate through this design challenge, they gain firsthand experience in the design process. (70 minutes)


Magnet Circus
Grades 3-8
Students explore the properties of magnets by designing a device that mimics the movements of circus performers using only magnetism, and then design a machine that will stay in motion for the greatest period of time.  As they iterate through the design challenge, students gain firsthand experience in the design process.   (60 minutes)

Motion Commotion
Grades 3-8
Inspired by the whimsical drawings of Rube Goldberg, students will leverage their knowledge of forces, work, simple machines, and conservation of energy to design and build complex contraptions to complete a simple task.  As students iterate through this design challenge, they gain firsthand experience in the design process. (60 minutes)

Pump it Up!
Grades 4-6
Students design a pumping device that will effectively pump fluid through a given cardiovascular system.   (60 minutes)

Tree House Escape
Grades 3-8
A frightened friend is stranded in a treehouse and needs help getting out!  In this design challenge students explore how simple machines can make “work” easier while they design a device to retrieve their sibling from a tree house that has lost its ladder.  As they iterate through this design challenge, students gain firsthand experience in the design process.  (60 minutes)
 

Multiple Session Lessons

Analogous Models
Grades 6-12
Students are challenged to design and build a museum display for a new exhibit at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California.  The exhibit will explore scientific concepts and everyday technology in a way that is accessible to individuals with little-to-no science knowledge.  Students will: research a selected scientific concept, or technology; develop exhibit text, diagrams, charts, and graphs; and design and build an analogous model.  Instructors can create themes for the exhibit challenge based on current topics of study.  Previous challenges have focused on body systems, cells and biological processes, and atoms and chemical processes.  (18-20 sessions @ 50 minutes each)

Bobsled Blitz
Grades 3-12
Students explore the effects of gravity, friction and air resistance upon acceleration when they design their own bobsleds.  The objective is to design a bobsled that reduces run times with each attempt.  As students iterate through this design challenge, they gain firsthand experience in the design process.   (3 sessions @ 30-45 minutes each)
 

Farming in Ancient Mesopotamia
Grades 6-8
Farmers in ancient Mesopotamia faced many challenges and developed many new technologies to overcome those challenges.  In this integrated, multi-day challenge, students will experiment with simple machines and river systems.  They will discover the problems facing ancient farmers and design working models to solve the unique problems of ancient Mesopotamia. (7 sessions @ 50 minutes each)

Float a Boat
Grades 3-8
Students draw upon their understanding of buoyancy and density, as well as potential and kinetic energy, to design and build a floating vessel with its own propulsion system that will carry cargo across a wading pool.  As students iterate through the design challenge, they gain firsthand experience in the design process.  (3 sessions @ 45 minutes each)
 

Human Body System
Grades 6-12
Students are challenged to design and build a museum display for a new exhibit at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California.  The exhibit will explore anatomy, physiology, and development.  Students will: research a selected body system; develop exhibit text, diagrams, charts, and graphs; and design and build an analogous model.  (18-20 sessions @ 50 minutes each)

 

Seismic Engineering-A Lesson Series Inspired by The Tech Challenge 2015
Grades 4-12
This lesson packet is a 5 part unit on seismic engineering that was originally designed to support teachers and after school providers in The Tech Challenge 2015.  Below you will find a lesson overview of all five lessons, a document providing information on The Tech's Innovation Process, and the five corresponding lessons.

Lesson Overview
The Tech's Innovation Process
Lesson 1: Modeling the Earth--Motion Mock-Ups
Lesson 2: Building Basics
Lesson 3: Seismic Solutions
Lesson 4: Building Big
Lesson 5: Skilled Scaling Part 1 (Lessons)
Lesson 5: Skilled Scaling Part 2 (Appendices)