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You Be The Engineer!

Science progresses by discovery of new principles of nature or new applications of things already known.

From the wheel to the computer, people throughout history have been inventing and discovering equipment, tools, and ingredients to help our lives progress. We want to go further into space, deeper into the ocean. We want to drill through the Earth’s crust and have softer couches and faster cars. How do all these new devices and upgrades come about? Some come from scientists and specialists. But some are discovered by people like you.

A very important aspect of science is doing literature research, that means reading everything known about a topic before you design and develop your own experiments. Learning about the people who have already made important discoveries, and the methods they used, can help your understanding of a topic.

Background Information

In this activity, you need to choose an engineering problem and design a product that would be beneficial. In either case, you will show research in a presentation. You may choose to create a multimedia presentation, video presentation, a web site, or a written report.

Your presentation or report should include the following items:

  • Introduction
  • Main topic with supporting details
  • Summary
  • Interesting or important information
  • References need to give credit to author, publisher, website, book, magazine, year, page #, and other relevant information.

You might consider starting your research at The Inventors Hall of Fame

To be an engineer, choose one of these following scenarios:

 
Step one: choose a scenario
Scenario one:
  1. Create and draw the design for a backpack that is strong enough to hold a large load for a long period of time but is light enough that it won’t tire a person during a long backpacking trip.
  2. Be sure to list and give details on the characteristics (chemical and physical) of the materials you choose and why they are important to the product. Your materials may currently be available - or they may be something that you design or invent.
Scenario two:
  1. Create and draw the design for a handle to a set of cooking pots and pans that will not burn your hand when the pan is over the heat.
  2. Be sure to give details on the characteristics (chemical and physical) of the materials you choose and why they are important to the product.
Scenario three:
  1. Determine the ingredients with proper characteristics for a type of paint that would work to keep iron, steel, and other metals from rusting (oxidizing).
  2. Be sure to give details on the characteristics (chemical and physical) of the materials (e.g., hydrophobic, insoluble) you choose and why they are important to the product.
Hint: It might be helpful to determine the types of characteristics your object will require and then go looking for substances and materials that have those characteristics and choose the most likely possibilities.

Step two: gather information and begin preparing the presentation. You might use the library, internet, texts, magazines, etc. to find information about your subject.

Step three: determine how you are going to solve the scenario.

Step four: determine how you are going to organize and present your information in the presentation. Make the order interesting for others to learn about the scenario you have chosen.

Step five: share your presentation with peers and ask them to evaluate your work. The evaluation should include the following:

  1. A possible answer for the scenario.
  2. Include the names, chemical and physical properties, and the purpose for each material used.

Review Science safetey rules here.

Get the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader , and Get Quicktime Player. (The QuickTime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 8th grade science core.


Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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