Name of Unit Types of Engineering
Author(s) Amanda Rock and Daniella DiPaola
School Vinson Owen
Teacher Bowler
Brief Description We are going to introduce the students to all types of engineering while having them create projects to solve clues to find the thief in a mystery story.
Grade(s) 5
Keywords engineering, mystery
Number of Weeks 10
Week 1 Environmental Engineering: Water Filters     We told the students that a puddle was left at the scene of the crime so we made water filters to analyse what was in the water. We wanted the kids to see that the water was milky because next week we were going to give them the results of what was in the dirty water and tell them that there was baking soda and vinegar to lead them to the next clue.We had a worksheet with the problem statement, materials, a labeled design, results, and summary of the clues they could get from the water.Materials: two cups per group, beans, cotton, and cheese cloth.  *we needed paper towelsI made dirty water using flour to make the water milky, the inside of tea bags for dirt, and rice. I couldn’t actually put baking soda and vinegar in the water because it would react.  I should have added some vinegar because the kids would have smelled it.  They could smell the tea and it made the water brown.  The rice just stayed at the bottom of the jug and it didn’t come out when I poured the water. The flour in the water made it not go through the cheese cloth very well.The students were able to filter out the tea bits and we had them describe what the water looked like when it came out, and it was still brown and cloudy.
Week 2 Chemical Engineering: Baking Soda and Vinegar Volcanoes     We told the students that we sent the water into a lab and the results came back as a mixture of a smelly liquid and white powder. We said that the footprints and fingerprints were washed away by the liquid and it covered so much of the ground that it had to be from an explosion. Their job was to make combinations of two white solids and two smelly liquids until they found the one that made an “explosion”. They were asked to record the results of each of the tests on a table.Materials: eight small measuring cups per group, 1/2 teaspoon of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of tea, paper towelsThe results were that the baking soda and vinegar caused the explosion. Because there are no fingerprints and footprints, we will look at the “video footage” next week to figure out who the culprit could be.** Lesson was shorter than expected, would be good for a less than hour class or modifications could be made to fit the whole hour.
Week 3 Electrical Engineering: Squishy Circuits-FlashlightsMaterials: Playdough, LEDs, tin foil, paper, 9V batteriesWe told the students that the lights in the museum went out so we couldn’t see the video footage and wanted them to build flashlights to look for clues in a dark room.  We introduced them to current, resistance, closed and open circuits, and short circuits. We had them experiment with the amount of playdough they used and how bright the light would be. We gave them tin foil to use to direct the light but some of them put it in the playdough to decrease the resistance. We tried to get them to make a device that could be held and transported like a flashlight.
Week 4 Civil Engineering: Paper Bridges  The next part of the story was that the thief took the dinosaur out the window across a bridge to the next building.Materials: Newspaper, tapeFirst we told them to build a bridge across a 1 foot space between two desks and see who could hold the most books.  Then we had them see who could build the tallest bridge that could also hold a book.This could be modified by giving them a strict limit on amount of materials they could use.
Week 5 Aerospace Engineering: Parachutes  The next part of the mystery was that the thief jumped off the room of the next building with a parachute.  We had the kids build parachutes and taught them about Aeronautical Engineering.  We taught them about air resistance, friction, free falling, terminal velocity, and drag.We gave them all different materials for the parachute and let them chose one at a time to use, including paper, tin foil, felt, newspaper, and styrofoam plates.  We also gave them string, tape, pipe cleaners, and a skeleton LEGO man to represent the dinosaur skull.  We also gave them weights to use after they had made a parachute with the LEGO man.I had them test after they built each design and record the time it took for their parachute to fall to the floor.  We did the testing for them by standing on a chair and timing the fall.  After the first trial we told them to try to make their next parachute fall slower and as straight down as possible by putting an X on the ground and measuring the distance for the X to where their parachute fell.
Week 6 Mechanical Engineering: Roller Coaster DesignThe next part of the mystery was that the thief built an underground rollercoaster/chute to get them to their secret lair. We had the kids design roller coasters to mimic what the thief had done. We talked about kinetic and potential energy, velocity, conservation of energy, and gravity. For this week, we just had them think about what materials they would want to use and design a sketch of their project. The coasters had to stand freely and the students had to work to conserve their materials.
Week 7 Mechanical Engineering: Roller Coaster Design Part 2This week, we brought in the materials for the roller coasters and had the kids started building. By the end of this class, all coasters were done. Next week, the students will test their coasters and calculate the speed of them!
Week 8 Mechanical Engineering: Roller Coaster Testing Part 3: The students finished building their roller coasters and then brought them out into the hall to test them.  We measured out 3 feet on the floor from where the marble would drop out of the roller coaster.  We timed how long it it took the marble to roll the three feet and then they calculated the velocity.  We wanted them to calculate the kinetic and potential energy too but they didn’t all understand it.
Week 9 Mechanical Engineering: Catapults and Projectile Motion: We taught them about projectile motion and kinematics.  We wanted them to calculate kinematic equations or at least understand what they are because we couldn’t calculate the initial velocity. They built catapults that could shoot a cotton ball as accurately as possible and could be released with the pull of a string. Then each group showed their design in front of the class.
Week 10

Leave a Reply

Tufts Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program • 200 Boston Ave. • Suite G810 • Medford, MA • 617-627-5888

Switch to our mobile site