Students learn more about assistive devices, specifically biomedical engineering applied to computer engineering concepts, with an engineering challenge to create an automatic floor cleaner computer program. Following the steps of the design process, they design computer programs and test them by programming a simulated robot vacuum cleaner (a LEGO® robot) to move in designated patterns. Successful programs meet all the design requirements.
Students are introduced to the challenge question, which revolves around proving that a cabinet x-ray system can produce bone mineral density images. Students work independently to generate ideas from the questions provided, then share with partners and then with the class as part of the Multiple Perspectives phase of this unit. Then, as part of the associated activity, students explore multiple websites to gather information about bone mineral density and answer worksheet questions, followed by a quiz on the material covered in the articles.
Students practice the initial steps involved in an engineering design challenge. They begin by reviewing the steps of the engineering design loop and discussing the client need for the project. Next, they identify a relevant context, define the problem within their design teams, and examine the project's requirements and constraints. (Note: Conduct this activity in the context of a design project that students are working on, which could be a challenge determined by the teacher, brainstormed with the class, or the example project challenge provided [to design a prosthetic arm that can perform a mechanical function].)
Student teams are challenged to navigate a table tennis ball through a timed obstacle course using only the provided unconventional “tools.” Teams act as engineers by working through the steps of the engineering design process to complete the overall task with each group member responsible to accomplish one of the obstacle course challenges. Inspired by the engineers who helped the Apollo 13 astronauts through critical problems in space, students must be innovative with the provided supplies to use them as tools to move the ball through the obstacles as swiftly as possible. Groups are encouraged to communicate with each other to share vital information. The course and tool choices are easily customizable for varied age groups and/or difficulty levels. Pre/post assessment handouts, competition rules and judging rubric are provided.
During this engineering design/build project, students investigate many different solutions to a problem. Their design challenge is to find a way to get school t-shirts up into the stands during home sporting events. They follow the steps of the engineering design process to design and build a usable model, all while keeping costs under budget.
Students engage in the second design challenge of the unit, which is an extension of the maze challenge they solved in the first lesson/activity of this unit. Students extend the ideas learned in the maze challenge with a focus more on the robot design. Gears are a very important part of any machine, particularly when it has a power source such as engine or motor. Specifically, students learn how to design the gear train from the LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT servomotor to the wheel to make the LEGO taskbot go faster or slower. A PowerPoint® presentation, pre/post quizzes and a worksheet are provided.
Student teams follow the steps of the engineering design process to meet the challenge of getting their entire class from one location on the playground to the sidewalk without touching the ground between. The class develops a well thought-out plan while following the steps of the engineering design process. Then, they test their solution by going outside and trying it out. Through the post-activity assessment, they compare their problem-solving experience to real life engineering challenges, such as creating new forms of transportation or new product invention.
Through four lessons and four hands-on associated activities, this unit provides a way to teach the overarching concept of energy as it relates to both kinetic and potential energy. Within these topics, students are exposed to gravitational potential, spring potential, the Carnot engine, temperature scales and simple magnets. During the module, students apply these scientific concepts to solve the following engineering challenge: "The rising price of gasoline has many effects on the US economy and the environment. You have been contracted by an engineering firm to help design a physical energy storage system for a new hybrid vehicle for Nissan. How would you go about solving this problem? What information would you consider to be important to know? You will create a small prototype of your design idea and make a sales pitch to Nissan at the end of the unit." This module is built around the Legacy Cycle, a format that incorporates findings from educational research on how people best learn. This module is written for a first-year algebra-based physics class, though it could easily be modified for conceptual physics.
Students are presented with an engineering challenge: To design a sustainable guest village within the Saguaro National Park in Arizona. Through four lessons and six associated activities, they study ecological relationships with an emphasis on the Sonoran Desert. They examine species adaptations. They come to appreciate the complexity and balance that supports the exchange of energy and matter within food webs. Then students apply what they have learned about these natural relationships to the study of biomimicry and sustainable design. They study the flight patterns of birds and relate their functional design to aeronautical engineering. A computer simulation model is also incorporated into this unit and students use this program to examine perturbations within a simple ecosystem. The solution rests within the lessons and applications of this unit.
Students learn and use the properties of light to solve the following challenge: "A mummified troll was discovered this summer at our school and it has generated lots of interest worldwide. The principal asked us, the technology classes, to design a security system that alerts the police if someone tries to pilfer our prized possession. How can we construct a system that allows visitors to view our artifact during the day, but invisibly protects it at night in a cost-effective way?"
Student groups are challenged to program robots with light sensors to follow a black line. Learning both the logic and skills behind programming robots for this challenge helps students improve their understanding of how robots "think" and widens their appreciation for the complexity involved in programming LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT robots to do what appears to be a simple task. They test their ideas for approaches to solve the problem and ultimately learn a (provided) working programming solution. They think of real-world applications for line-follower robots that use sensor input. A PowerPoint® presentation and pre/post quizzes are provided.
As the first engineering design challenge of the unit, students are introduced to the logic for solving a maze. First they observe a blindfolded student volunteer being guided through a classroom maze by the simple verbal instructions of another student. In this demonstration, the blindfolded student represents a robot and the guiding student represents programming commands. Then student groups apply that logic to program LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT robots to navigate through a maze, first with no sensors, and then with sensors. A PowerPoint® presentation, pre/post quizzes and a worksheet are provided.
Students further their understanding of the engineering design process (EDP) while being introduced to assistive technology devices and biomedical engineering. They are given a fictional client statement and are tasked to follow the steps of the EDP to design and build small-scale, off-road wheelchair prototypes. As part of the EDP, students identify appropriate materials and demonstrate two methods of representing solutions to their design problem (scale drawings and simple scale models). They test the scale model off-road wheelchairs using spring scales to pull the prototypes across three different simulated off-road surfaces.
Students follow the steps of the engineering design process while learning more about assistive devices and biomedical engineering applied to basic structural engineering concepts. Their engineering challenge is to design, build and test small-scale portable wheelchair ramp prototypes for fictional clients. They identify suitable materials and demonstrate two methods of representing design solutions (scale drawings and simple models or classroom prototypes). Students test the ramp prototypes using a weighted bucket; successful prototypes meet all the student-generated design requirements, including support of a predetermined weight.
Students apply what they have learned about the engineering design process to a real-life problem that affects them and/or their school. They chose a problem as a group, and then follow the engineering design process to come up with and test their design solution. This activity teaches students how to use the engineering design process while improving something in the school environment that matters to them. By performing each step of the design process, students can experience what it is like to be an engineer.
Students are introduced to the (hypothetical) task of developing an invisible (non-intrusive) security system to protect the school's treasured mummified troll! Solving the challenge depends on an understanding of the properties of light. After being introduced to the challenge question, students generate ideas and consider the knowledge required find solutions. They watch a portion of the "Mythbuster's Crimes and Myth-Demeanors" episode ($20), which helps direct their research and learning toward solving the challenge. They begin to study laser applications in security systems, coming to realize the role of lasers in today's society.
Working individually or in pairs, students compete to design, create, test and redesign free-standing, weight-bearing towers using Kapla(TM) wooden blocks. The challenge is to build the tallest tower while meeting the design criteria and minimizing the amount of material used all within a time limit. Students experiment with different geometric shapes used in structural designs and determine how design choices affect the height and strength of structures, becoming comfortable with the concepts of structural members and modeling.
Through the two lessons and five activities in this unit, students' knowledge of sensors and motors is integrated with programming logic as they perform complex tasks using LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT robots and software. First, students are introduced to the discipline of engineering and "design" in general terms. Then in five challenge activities, student teams program LEGO robots to travel a maze, go as fast/slow as possible, push another robot, follow a line, and play soccer with other robots. This fifth unit in the series builds on the previous units and reinforces the theme of the human body as a system with sensors performing useful functions, not unlike robots. Through these design challenges, students become familiar with the steps of the engineering design process and come to understand how science, math and engineering including computer programming are used to tackle design challenges and help people solve real problems. PowerPoint® presentations, quizzes and worksheets are provided throughout the unit.
Students learn how two LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT intelligent bricks can be programmed so that one can remotely control the other. They learn about the components and functionality in the (provided) controller and receiver programs. When its buttons are pressed, the NXT brick assigned as the remote control device uses the controller program to send Bluetooth® messages. When the NXT taskbot/brick assigned as the receiver receives certain Bluetooth messages, it moves, as specified by the receiver program. Students examine how the programs and devices work in tandem, gaining skills as they play "robot soccer." As the concluding activity in this unit, this activity provides a deeper dimension of understanding programming logic compared to previous activities in this unit and introduces the relatively new and growing concept of wireless communication. A PowerPoint® presentation, pre/post quizzes and a worksheet are provided.
In a simulation of potential future space missions to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, student teams are challenged to direct a robot placed in an enclosed maze to search for and find the most “alien life.” The robot is equipped with a camera to send a live feed of its surroundings in the maze. Students control the robot from outside the maze by looking at the live feed on a smartphone and using the robot’s remote control, making a map as they go. The student teams compete as if they are space agencies creating their own exploratory systems to meet the challenge’s criteria and constraints and prove “in the field” that they have the best plan to win the mission contract and get the job. This activity simulates the real-world research of scientists and engineers developing a robot with the capabilities to explore under the ice-covered surface of Europa.