Detective- Solving the Mystery


Name of Activity Detective- Solving the Mystery
Author Kirsten Jorgensen and Hannah Garfield
Keywords detective, engineers, solve, mystery
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Solving the mystery (~30 minutes)Did this is the second half of the 2nd mechanical engineering project day
Lesson Objectives: determine who committed the crimeoverview of the different types of engineering
Materials Needed: posters with mug shots and descriptions of suspects
Preparation and Set Up: make posters of suspects with mug shots and descriptionsExample: Bill Ding; Hometown: Burlington, VT; Age: 25; Occupation: Structural Engineer with concentration in buildings;
Procedure Use whatever time needed to finish and present rube goldberg devices present posters and talk about what skills each suspect has that could be helpful for them to commit this crime and what experience do each of them not have. Discuss and blind vote on which of the 4 different suspects (mech, envior, civil, electrical) they think did it THEY ALL DID IT–engineers work together to accomplish goals and most projects require people from different disciplines with different experience to complete them Talk about final project at the end of class.
Previous Activity (if applicable) Detective: Mechanical Engineering
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering

Detective- Environmental Engineering

Name of Activity Detective Environmental Engineer (water filters)
Author Hannah Garfield and Kirsten Jorgensen
Keywords environmental, detective, engineer, mystery, water filter
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Lesson 3 of Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering unit – environmental engineering.
Lesson Objectives: - understand what environmental engineers do/design
- understand what a filter does and why it can be useful
- generally understand how to use which materials in a filter and why
Materials Needed: - rinsed, dried, and cut plastic bottles (2 L are good, but normal sizes also works fine) (cut bottom of bottle off so it’s easy to reach the interior of the bottle, keep cap on)
- cups to catch filtered water
- cheese cloth
- tape
- cotton balls
- string
- paper
- popsicle sticks
- eye droppers
- dirty water (sand, small rocks, oil, glitter, etc.)
Preparation and Set Up: - Rinse, dry, and cut plastic bottles (1 per group)
- Prepare dirty water a head of time
Procedure Once the students/detective engineer crosses the gap they reach the crime scene and there’s mysterious puddles of cloudy water everywhere. They think there could be some clues in the water. Ask the students how they think they could extract the clues from the water? Talk about what the purpose of a filter is. Introduce materials and then allow students to brainstorm how they’ll design their filter before passing out materials. Allow students to build filters. They can raise their hands when they have finished building their filter to receive dirty water. Students can test filters and see how clean their water comes out. Bring students back together as a class and have each group talk about their filter design, if they thought it worked well, and why or why not.
Extensions: Adding oil makes it more difficult. Some kids figured out they can skim it off the top with the eye dropper.

Detective- Civil Engineering


Name of Activity Detective Civil Engineer
Author Hannah Garfield and Kirsten Jorgensen
Keywords detective, mystery, civil engineering, structure, bridge
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Lesson 2 of the Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering unit – civil engineering.
Lesson Objectives: - understand what civil engineers do/design
- experience building neatly and conserving materials
Materials Needed: - Popsicle sticks
- rubber band
- masking tape
- string
- ruler
- heavy objects to test with (usually can use classroom’s textbooks)
- paper and pencils
Preparation and Set Up: - arrange students in pairs
- arrange students around classroom so each student has a 1.5′ gap (between desks or tables) they can work with
Procedure Now that the crime scene is illuminated, the students/detective engineers see that there’s a large hole in the floor in between them and the scene of the crime. Ask students how might they cross this gap and what kind of engineering knowledge would they need? Group discussion about what civil engineers do/design. Introduce materials students will use to create a structure (don’t necessarily call it a bridge) to cross the gap. Each group will receive:

  • two 1′ long pieces of tape
  • one 1′ long piece of string
  • 5 rubber bands
  • 20-30 Popsicle sticks (give all groups same amount)
  • paper and a pencil for planning (if they don’t have already)

Before distributing materials allow students time to plan activity on paper. Emphasize that you will not give them extra materials and they need to plan accordingly. Allow groups to build. When groups are ready test structures with heavy items like text books. With about 10-15 min left in class, bring group back together to have each group present their structure and test it in front of the class.

Extensions: - add more weight when testing
- allow students to re-design using even fewer materials
- allow students to re-design using same materials but a wider gap

Detective- Electrical Engineering


Name of Activity Detective Electrical Engineering
Author Hannah Garfield & Kirsten Jorgensen
Keywords detective, electrical, circuits, mystery, squishy circuits, short circuit, light bulb, museum
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description 1st lesson in “Detective Engineer/Intro to Engineering Unit”

In this lesson the students will learn the basic concepts of circuits and what electrical engineers design.

Lesson Objectives: - understanding basic circuit
- understanding short circuit
- idea of what electrical engineers design
Materials Needed: - white board/black board and markers/chalk
- play dough (1 tub per group)
- 9 volt batteries (1 per group)
- LED lights that work with squishy circuits (1 per group, but probably bring more)
Procedure Detective story: There was a break-in at the Museum of Science. Something valuable stolen or whatever you want to say (more details about break-in so it sounds believable). You (students) have been hired as the detective engineer on the case. You need to solve the crime using your engineering skills. Upon arriving at the crime scene you cannot see anything since the bomb/explosion/etc. disrupted the museum’s lighting system and all of the lights are off. Ask students what type of engineer they need to be to solve this step of the crime. (Eventually they get to electrical.) Discussion with students about what electrical engineers design. Introduce the basic idea of a circuit – idea that electrons are flowing through circuit to make light illuminate, for example. Break students into groups of 2 and distribute squishy circuit materials. Allow students some time to play on their own with trying to get the light to light up. After 5- 10 min or so, bring class back together and discuss what’s working and what isn’t. Draw a battery, clearly indicating + and – ends, and a light bulb, also with clear + and – ends, on the board. Ask for volunteers to complete the circuit and ask them/the class why they connected wires to what and where, etc. Someone will most likely draw a short circuit and if not draw one yourself. Ask students if this circuit would light up the bulb and why or why not. Students can also come up and in a different color illustrate where they think they electrons are going if that helps them understand/get their point across. Allow students to return to their groups and try to make the light bulb light up again. With about 10-15 min left of class, bring students back together. Have a complex-ish circuit (made of only batteries, wires, and light bulbs) drawn on the board. Intentionally draw some short circuits, some wires that don’t connect to anything, etc. Tell students that this is the museum’s lighting circuit system and ask them to tell you what’s wrong with it and why. Students solve the broken circuit and the lights go on in the museum! End of class.
Extensions: If students get the bulb to light up early, give them additional light bulbs to try to make those light up as well and/or design a switch (and have them figure out what that is).
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering

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