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Design Challenge Lessons

Magnet Circus
Explore the properties of magnets by designing a device that can move as far as possible using only magnets to move it, and then design a machine that will stay in motion for the greatest period of time. Published
July 26, 2006
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Simplicity of Electricity
This is a hands-on, "how-to" workshop for students to learn how to troubleshoot a circuit, design a switch and build and test a signaling device. Published
July 26, 2006
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Exploring Buoyancy
Design Challenge created to teach students about buoyancy, density, volume and pressure. Published
July 26, 2006
Download 348k PDF
Physics of Roller Coasters
Full-length lab curriculum was developed to teach Kinetic and Potential energies, Newton's Laws of Motion, velocity, friction and acceleration. Published
July 26, 2006
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Building for the Big One
Using this activity, students will learn about the effects of earthquakes and how various soil types react during an earthquake. This lesson gives students first-hand experience in making design decisions similar to those made in the real world. Published
July 26, 2006
Download 2.3MB PDF
Human Body Exhibit
October 19, 2005
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Without CA Science Standards Human Body Exhibit (no CA)
In this teacher developed Design Challenge unit, students learn about the systems of the human body by creating a "museum exhibit" for their classroom. Download with or without the California State Science Standards. Published
October 1, 2005
Download 120k PDF
Rat Round Up
Build a device that will capture and carry a pet rat (or other moving toy) safely back to its cage. Published
March 10, 2005
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Pooper Scooper
Build a tool to safely pick up poop so that no one is exposed to diseases that can be carried in animal waste. Published
March 10, 2005
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Fire Brigade
Build a device to deliver a new fire fighting material safely to the fire. (Note No real fire is used in this challenge.) Published
March 10, 2005
Download 259k PDF
Rover Landing
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. Published
March 24, 2004
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Farming in Ancient Mesopotamia An Ancient Civil Engineering Problem
In this integrated, multi-day Design Challenge unit, students will explore simple machines, transportation of materials, and river systems using stream tables. They will discover the problems ancient farmers faced and design their own working models that will attempt to solve those unique problems (includes Design Challenges Flowing From Here to There and Two Rivers Ran Through It). Published
November 20, 2003
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Flowing From Here to There
Students explore simple machines to transport dry, but fluid, material from one container to another (also included as a part of Farming in Ancient Mesopotamiaunit). Published
November 20, 2003
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Two Rivers Ran Through It
In this challenge students will discover the problems that early farmers faced while developing agriculture in "the land between two rivers" and design a working model that solves those unique challenges (also included as a part of Farming in Ancient Mesopotamia unit). Published
November 20, 2003
Download 324k PDF
Cup in the Cupboard
In this challenge students are asked to design and build a device that can be used to place a cup in a high cupboard to assist a friend who uses a wheel chair. Published
November 6, 2003
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Download Unit 284k PDF
Circle of Pong
Students use their knowledge of potential and kinetic energy, and explore forces and motion to place a ball into the center of a 6-foot diameter circle. Published
July 31, 2003
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Free up the Ketchup
Students demonstrate their knowledge of Newton's 1st Law of Motion with this introductory level Design Challenge. Published
June 25, 2003
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Double Toss
Students use their knowledge of potential and kinetic energy, and explore forces and motion as they work together to solve this introductory level Design Challenge. Published
June 25, 2003
Download 207k PDF
Motion Commotion
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. Published
April 21, 2003
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Float A Boat
Design and build a vessel with its own propulsion system that will carry cargo across a wading pool. Published
March 24, 2003
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Listening Devices
Design a listening device that will allow them to listen to the sound generated by a specific object inside of a box. Published
March 24, 2003
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Seed Dispersal
Create and test a wind dispersed seed designed by students. Published
March 24, 2003
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Design a Bobsled
Students explore the effects of gravity, friction and air resistance upon acceleration when they design their own bobsleds. Published
December 31, 2002
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Students learn about their circulatory system by designing a pumping device that will effectively pump fluid through a given cardiovascular system. Published
December 31, 2002
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Spuds in Space
Students investigate force and motion as they design spacesuits for their potato astronauts that can withstand the hazards of high velocity impacts from space debris and meteoroids. Published
December 31, 2002
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Tree House Escape
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. Published
November 20, 2002
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Pet Rescue
In this Design Challenge activity students will explore how structure relates to function as they design devices to save Fido. Published
November 20, 2002
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Freestanding Structures
In this Design Challenge, families and friends work together to design the tallest structure that they can, using only the materials provided. Published
November 19, 2002
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Energy at Play
In this activity students will design a contraption using Tinker ToysTM, while exploring how Potential and Kinetic Energy are transformed and transferred. They will also gain a deeper understanding of the Law of Conservation of Energy. Published
October 23, 2002
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