Middle School Engineering Project
By Sharodka Tofte
P.G. Chambers School middle school students in Classes 9, 10, and 11 worked on several projects during their engineering unit that were both interesting and fun. Concepts in science and engineering came alive for the students through experiments that allowed them to apply what they learned in class.
In the “Egg Drop Experiment”, the challenge was for students to use everyday objects (cotton balls, Styrofoam cups, cardboard boxes, drinking straws, packing peanuts, etc.) to create structures that would protect a hardboiled egg from cracking when dropped from a height of seven feet. Through a process of trial and error, and by learning from each attempt and making modifications, the students learned which design led to a successful outcome.
In their next experiment, students created small boats out of aluminum foil with the goal of creating a design that could stay afloat while supporting the weight of 100 pennies. This experiment required the students to analyze which shape and design would work best to hold the most amount of weight. The students tested their boats in a bucket of water to determine which one would hold the greatest amount of weight.
The students explored this concept further by creating bridges out of Popsicle sticks to determine which design could support the greatest weight.
As part of their final experiment, students created catapults using Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and plastic eggs. The objective was to determine which design would permit the students to launch an object the furthest.
For each project, students worked in both small groups and together as a class to design and create their structures.