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Brief Description Students build the tallest tower possible to support a marshmallow. They can use only dry spaghetti and tape.
Subject Types of Engineering, Miscellaneous
Grade Level 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Lesson Objectives: Depending on your goals for the unit, the lesson objectives may include:

  1. Students will better understand what “engineering” is and practice using the engineering design process.
  2. Students will practice working with constraints. They will be able to identify the constraints in this activity.
  3. Students will be able to describe the properties of strong structures.
  4. Students will begin to realize that it is okay to fail!
Materials Needed:
  • dried spaghetti (10 pieces for every group)
  • masking tape (1 ft for every group)
  • marshmallows (1 per group)
  • measuring tape/yardstick (most classrooms have one)
Preparation and Set Up:
  • Gather necessary materials
  • When in the class, it is recommended that one STOMPer divide up the tape and spaghetti while the other STOMPer explains the activity.
Necessary Background This activity requires no specific background. Many STOMPers use it to introduce the engineering design process.
Procedure
  1. Explain the activity: They will have 15 minutes to build the tallest tower out of 10 pieces of spaghetti and 12 inches of tape. The marshmallow must balance at the top of the tower.  The time limit and the limited amount of materials given are known as constraints. (No, you can’t eat the marshmallows. We will be measuring from to the top of the marshmallow so don’t use it as a base)
  2. Split students into groups of 2-4 students and let them work for 15 minutes. Circulate the classroom and talk about different designs.
  3. At the end of 15 minutes, measure the towers. It is recommended not to
  4. Discuss: What did you have trouble with in this challenge? What do you think you needed to make a better tower? How did you make yours stand up? Did the weight of the marshmallow make any towers collapse? You may also want to revisit and discuss any learning goals for the class.
  5. If time allows, you may repeat the activity. Many classes like to repeat the activity so that they can apply what they have just learned!
Author Laura Fradin, Jake Hellman
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/SpaghettiTowersOutline.pdf

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Name of Activity TinkerCad Name Tags
Author STOMP
Keywords Tinkercad, 3D, modeling, laser cutting, 3D printing
Subject Miscellaneous
Grade Level 5
Time 4+ Hours Total
Brief Description This lesson focuses on the basics of TinkerCad by teaching students how to create their own customized name tag that is later 3D printed or laser cut.It must be noted that this activity works best if there is internet readily available since TinkerCad runs on Google Chrome or Firefox. This activity would also work better in a computer lab where all students can work on their projects at once.
Lesson Objectives: -Introduce students to 3D modeling
-Introduce students to printing software such as laser cutters and 3D printers
-Inspire students with projects done by others
-Introduce students to TinkerCad basics such as: grid settings, moving around, shape generators, text generators, holes, extrusion and sizing.
Materials Needed: -Computers
-WIFI or Ethernet connection is a must since Tinker Cad works on Google Chrome or Firefox
-Paper to design name tags before jumping into software.
Preparation and Set Up: -Gather enough computers, and chargers
-Get mouses if possible. Makes clicking around much easier.
-Have students draw out name tag design on paper
-Distribute computers
-Log into Tinker Cad account (worked best if one account was used to save all student’s designs).
Knowledge Background 3D printing and laser cutting applications in today’s world. Drawing and shape generating. 3D modeling is like art.
Procedure 1. Design model on paper: including shapes, sizes (3 in X 3 in worked nicely), cartoons, name, and holes (for strap).

2. Prepare a new model on Tinker Cad:

  • Log in
  • Choose “create new design”
  • Set new grid – “edit grid” – set custom 3 in X 3 in if using same standard as above
  • Explore motion settings: moving up, down, tilting, rotating, going back to home view, zooming in and out.

3. Create base: Have students browse through the shape generator to see what shape they want their name tag to be.  Have them make that their base so that all other extrusions, text, and holes are placed onto the base.

4. Choose location of holes: This was generally done by choosing the cylinder shape and making it a hole instead of solid.  Check to make sure it goes through the name tag.  Any other shape can be used.

5. Teach text editor to apply name:  The Text editor option is a nice easy way to write text!  Different fonts can be used, and the whole text is treated as one object that can be re sized and even turned into a hole for engraving.  If Text editor is undesirable, Tinkercad has individual letters as objects that can be placed, re-sized,  and turned into holes.

6. Apply images from online, or search for .stl files on Thingiverse for more customization: Due to a lack of time many of the name tags had objects imported from other websites like Thingiverse.  .STL files can be imported into Tinkercad using the import section, and the files can be easily manipulated.

7. Differentiate between engraving and creating hole extrusions: Make sure students can tell the difference between making objects that cut completely through, or objects that engrave into the base of the name tag.  This means checking the thickness of each object and making sure it fits what is desired.  Keep in mind that some letters wont come out how they look when printed.  For Example: if the letter D is desired to be completely cut through the entire name tag base there wont be any filling inside of the D.  It will just fall out when it is laser cut.  

 After All models are complete: 3D Printing: All designs on Tinker Cad can be exported as .stl files.  Other options are also available.  Each option depends on your printer’s needs. Laser Cutting:  There is an option to download models as .SVG.  However, for our laser cutter more work had to be done. How we did it:

  • Each model was downloaded as a .STL file
  • Each .STL file was opened in Solid Works (it is going to look funky at first).  Do not click on .stl file to open.  You will get an “uncertified trust” error.  Just open from Solid Works.
  • Click options before opening (in file search only search for .stl files).  Make each .stl file a solid body, and use milimeters (Tinkercad Transfers files as mm).
  • Let Solid Works run it’s check to make sure nothing is funky about the model (90% of the time the model is fine).
  • Right click on “imported” feature on the left toolbar of the model
  • Choose Feature Works
  • Click on recognize geometry.  Solid Works will do an automatic run through of TinkerCad’s drawing and sketches.  You can choose what features you would like it to run through (fillets, holes, ribs, drawings, extrusions etc).  Usually just check all just in case.  This process may take a lot of time depending on how complicated the model is, how Solid Works has been running that day, and depending on if outside .STL designs were used.  Sometimes it wont even work.  If it doesn’t redesign will have to be considered.  I used about 4 computers running different designs simultaneously to speed the process up.
  • After all geometry is recognized, save the Solid Works version as a part.
  • Create a new drawing in Solid Works.
  • Make the template size the size of the wood board, or plastic you are using.
  • Place top views of all the parts onto the drawing with the proper scale.
  • Save drawing as a .DXF File.
  • Open .DXF File in illustrator.
  • Use .0005 in for any outline that needs to be cut.
  • Use .01 in for anything that is to be etched.

Keep in mind each printer and cutter is different. The settings depend on the printer and material! There is also an option to take screen shots of a top view of each model and using that in illustrator instead of going through all the Solid Works trouble.  However, the angle of the shot may mess things up.   *Cut away!  

Extensions: This activity would work better in a computer lab. We spent too much time splitting up the class to allow everyone to use tinker cad on the STOMP computers. This made our lessons hard to plan since half of the class was working on different things.
Modifications: More has to be done in terms of having proper ways to cut and how to transfer models.

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