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  • Created 09 Mar 2011

Design Resources


The design resources listed here consist of lesson plans in which an engineering design-based activity serves to anchor the teaching and learning of science (and in some cases math) concepts for students in grades 3-6. All lessons were designed by teams of Purdue University STEM faculty working in collaboration with participating project teachers. Each lesson addresses appropriate Indiana and national standards and includes the background information and materials teachers may need to implement the lesson in the classroom. While originally designed to address learning at specific grade levels, materials may be adapted for other grades. All materials are free to download and use. To learn more about using these materials, read Getting Started with SLED.

Click the title of the design activity to download the unit and any ancillary resources.

Title Grade(s) Key Concepts Synopsis of Design Task
3
parts of a plant and their functions
Design a dyed flower using principles of capillary action and plant root structure.
3
simple and compound machines
Design and construct a compound machine that can help a large breed dog get into and out of the back of a car.
3
light, absorption,
heat, energy
Design a drink pouch that will fit into a car cup holder and keep a drink cool in the hot sun.
3
earth materials, dams
Use earth materials to create a model of an earthen dam that will hold a volume of water for a period of time.
3-6
compression, engineering design
Use note cards and tape to create a model lifeguard chair to hold the weight of the lifeguard at a specified height..
3
sound, sound waves, pitch, loudness
Design and create a simple string instrument capable of producing three different sounds (pitches).
3
simple and compound machines
Design and construct a compound machine that can safely trap and contain a wolf.
3
sound, sound waves,
absorption, loudness
Design and construct a model “soundproof” (or sound absorbing) wall so that loud sounds in one room will not be heard in the room next to it.
 
4
mass, length, temperature, measurement
Apply measurement skills to solve the mystery of who pilfered (stole) a pin from a local museum.
4
electricity, current, electric circuit
Design a door alarm that sounds when someone open the door to the room.
4
adaptations of organisms to the environment
Design a green roof that can support soil on a 45 degree incline.
4
electricity, resistors, conductors, electric circuit
Design and construct salt dough-based electrical circuits to control the brightness of a glowing light bulb (a bright light, a dim light, and a light that is in-between).
4
forces, motion, friction, transportation systems
On a model roadway, design a way to slow and then stop vehicles from going into a river if they fail to make a sharp turn.
4
forces, motion, drag
Design attachments to a boat to make it move more slowly through the water.
4
erosion
Design a model of a canal to transport water from one location to another while minimizing erosion.
3-4
forces, motion, drag
Build a whirligig that falls as slowly as possible.
 
5-6
mass, weight, volume, engineering design
Design an attractive candy bag that is able to hold maximum weight.
5-6
ecosystem, decomposer, biotic and abiotic factors
Design and build a compost column.
5
mass, weight, volume, chemical reaction
Design a product that makes use of a chemical reaction to produce carbon dioxide to inflate a balloon.
5
mass, weight, volume. recycling
Make a device for making recycled paper of specified size as thin as possible.
5
mass, volume, density, musculoskeletal system
Design a model of a prosthetic leg for a young child that can kick a soccer ball.
5
earth, sun, shadows, rotation, revolution, seasons
Design a shade for a picnic table that will be effective in both summer and winter.
5
compression, tension, torsion, engineering design
Create a structure to hold a shot put 2 inches above a surface.
5
weight, volume, filter
Design a device to remove as much sediment (dirt) as possible from dirty water in the shortest amount of time.
 
6
energy, energy transformation, chemical reaction
Design a hot and cold pack for little children to apply heat or cold to a child’s injury in the most comfortable and efficient way possible.
6
surface area, volume, ratio
Design a shape for a plastic water bottle that maximizes the amount of liquid that can be stored but uses the least amount of plastic.
6
habitat, biotic and abiotic factors, area
Create a “plan” for the new zoo environment for reindeer that not only supports life but also fits into a designated space at the zoo.
6
potential and kinetic energy
Design and construct a roller coaster model that results in the greatest total loop diameter at the lowest cost.
6
kinetic and potential energy, vibration, sensor
Design and construct a device to be placed on a tabletop that can detect vibrations when the table is bumped.
6
inclination of the earth, direct and indirect light rays, seasons
Develop a solar panel system that can be easily moved to track the sun in the sky during different times of the day and during different seasons.
6
potential and kinetic energy, energy transformation
Design and build a small model of a car from a water bottle that can be propelled by a number of different energy sources.
6
energy, UV rays, engineering design
Plan, construct, and test a simple sensor for detecting UV light to meet the needs of a particular client.