Students will build a sturdy wall that can withstand two different tests.
- To familiarize students with LEGO building strategies.
- To familiarize students with LEGO and engineering vocabulary.
- To introduce the Engineering Design Process to the students.
- LEGO Simple Machines kits or homemade LEGO building kits.
- Engineer’s ‘Final Report’ Worksheet.
Preparation and Set Up:
- Arrange students in pairs.
- Distribute LEGO Simple Machines Kits.
Introduce the LEGO pieces students will be using in this lesson.
Discuss how to describe LEGO pieces (e.g. a 2 x 4 brick is a brick that is 2 studs across and 4 studs long)
Write the pieces that were introduced and tell the students that they are only allow to use and take out those three piece types.
Explain the challenge and using steps of the Engineering Design Process:
Create: The task for the day is to build a sturdy wall.
Give building tips and talk about sturdy building. For example, overlapping bricks and beas are stronger than non-overlapping bricks and beams, three plates is the same height as one brick. Talk about overlapping bricks at corners of buildings
Test: Each wall must pass two tests:
Flick Tests - Wall cannot fall apart or fall over when gently pushed.
Drop Test - Wall cannot fall apart when dropped from the knee.
Redesign: Have students think about why their design might have broke and what they can do differently to change it.
Have students fill out their ‘Engineer’s Final Report’ Worksheet (some students may need help).
If there is time have students come together to share their wall designs and discuss what made their designs sturdy. Compare the students’ walls to the walls in the classroom/other buildings.
Extensions or Modifications:
- Have students build a 2-sided wall (the two walls should be connected with overlapping beams/bricks/plates).
- Have students build a 4-sided sturdy house.
egg, drop, helmet, constraint, redesign, safety, drop test
Subject and Grade Level
Non-LEGO, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
1 Hour Total
- Introduce the students to engineering design
- Introduce sturdy building
- Introduce engineering for safety
- one hard boiled egg
- 20 cotton balls
- 2 paper towel squares
- one meter of tape
- 15 plastic straws
Preparation and Set Up:
- Create one kit for each group, create 2 kits for each group if you will have enough time for each group to do this activity twice.
- Be sure to have a good method for testing the egg drop to avoid a mess, this can be done several ways — 1) Set up an area with a tarp or newspaper underneath that can be cleaned easily, 2) Have students place their egg helmets in the ziplock bags for the test, 3) hardboil the eggs
Background: Helmets are a form of protective gear that is worn on the head to prevent injury to the brain. Just like an egg, our heads can crack and be damaged by a bad fall. Helmets are used for many purposes and each purpose has a specific design. Bike helmets are to protect against falls when the rider looses their balance or is hit by a car. Bike helmets are sleek and rather small for good aerodynamics and so that it does not get in the riders way or field of vision. Other helmets such as hard hats protect the head from objects falling from above. Hockey helmets have a face guard to protect the face against flying pucks.The Engineering Design Process is an 8-step process that engineers use to create a complete design. This lesson emphasizes the Test and Evaluate step of this process, especially since a failed test means a failed design that should be redesigned. If students are allowed to build a second helmet the teacher should discuss Redesign as a step in the Engineering Design Process. A constraint is a limit placed on a design. Constraints are important in real engineering because companies have limits on the amount of money, amount of time, size, and materials they have for a design. The number of materials each group is given to complete the task is an example of a constraint.
Explain the term constraint and ask the students if they can think of constraints for this activity. If they do not come up with the answer tell the students that they are constrained by the materials in their kits: they are only allowed to use the materials in the kit to build their helmet.
If there are any other constraints (time, weight limit, size of the helmet) tell the students what they are and write them on the board.
When each group has completd their design (15 – 20 minutes) gather the class together and allow each group to test their helmet in front of the class.
If the groups are allowed a second design, let students redesign their helmets using a new kit.
After the final tests are complete gather the class together to talk about this activity.
Ask the students the following questions:
What was the most challenging part of building the egg helmet?
What are some of the constraints of the activity and how did you work around them?
How is this similar to engineering a real helmet? How is it different?
Extensions or Modifications:
- Do this activity only using 4 sheets of paper and one meter of tape
- Use this activity as a way to introduce LEGO pieces and tell students that they must make a LEGO cage for their egg baded with cotton balls and paper towels