STEMbassadors Activity Menu

1. Does it Float? - In this exercise students will participate in a hands-on activity to learn about buoyancy and design. The activity will include one demo and a hands-on project of building tinfoil boats. The project is to build a tinfoil boat capable of holding the most pennies possible. After the first design iteration, students will be introduced to Archimedes principle through a demonstration and then be given the task to modify their design based on concepts learned and produce a second boat. 

2. Shopping with Sparki - Say hello to Sparki, your own personal robot. Imagine a future when everyone has their own robots capable of doing basic tasks for them. Say you want to go to the store to pick up your iPhone 37, but your hover board is broken. No worries! You can send Sparki to get your package! Students will learn how to program Sparki to perform basic tasks using MiniBloq and SparkiDuino. The goal is to have Sparki follow a path, pick up an object, and return it to you. This activity will test the students' programming skills, problem solving skills, communication skills, and spatial awareness.

3. The World of Robotics - In the hands-on activity, groups of students will visit different robot stations and take control of the unique robotic systems. Principles of design, control, and application will be stressed throughout the session. The activity will end with a reflection period during which students will collectively discuss the countless ways to solve any problem using what they learned via all the robot systems with which they interacted.

4. Medieval Marshmallow Catapult - In this activity, students will be challenged to design and build a marshmallow catapult to defend their medieval castle! After introducing the science behind catapults, projectile motion and conservation of energy, the students will be split into teams. The teams will brainstorm a catapult design then receive materials to build their structure. After building their structure, the teams will complete three catapult tests to see if they can successfully defend their castle! Students will leave with an understanding of the engineering design process, basic projectile motion, and improved teamwork skills.

5. Truss-ted Design - In this activity, small teams of students compete in a bridge building event. Using only a limited supply of paper and tape, teams build the strongest truss-bridges possible. Scores will be updated live - to stay in the lead, teams will have to upgrade their bridges to beat the competition in this continuously evolving championship.

6. Egg Drop Challenge - In a car crash, protective devices such as airbags and seatbelts reduce the effect of impact and can save lives. Using the laws of physics and properties of materials to design such devices is an important challenge for mechanical engineers. In the Egg Drop Challenge, students will design protective carriers for raw eggs attempting to reduce and, ultimately, eliminate damage when the egg is dropped from some height. Students will explore the properties of materials and explain what characteristics make a material effective or ineffective in protecting their egg from the forces of impact. Materials will be “purchased” by students, requiring them to plan their designs to be cost effective and within a budget. The activity encourages students to think critically about material choices, designs and improvements throughout the process of building and testing their carriers.

7. Downhill Derby Design - Using K’NEX, students will design and build their own race car before taking it to the track to determine which design performs the best against physics in a downhill derby. Students will design the car with different variables such as shape, size, weight, and multiple wheel options, and then analyze which of those variables impact performance most. 

8. Oil Spill & Response Cleanup - Students will have the opportunity to work in groups and investigate the effects of an “oil spill” in a water body.  In a simulated “ocean”, students will drop a small amount of oil into the water and see the effects and interaction. Students simulate an oil spill and cleanup both before and after the use of dispersants using materials that act similarly to oil spill response technologies. They discuss the effectiveness and flaws of oil cleanup strategies based on the results. Students will simulate an environmental disaster in a classroom environment, analyze the effectiveness of oil cleanup efforts,  and discuss cleanup tactics and the environmental impacts of using dispersants.

9. Jenga Khalifa - The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and, amazingly, it sits on sand. Not only is it an amazing structure, it represents a pinnacle in geotechnical engineering. For this exercise, students will use a standard set of Jenga blocks to try to create a block skyscraper. But the challenge here is to do so while supporting the block tower on a spongy “soil profile” and, to model weight properly, the towers must support a weight at the very top (a hockey puck). Students will be challenged to determine how to arrange their blocks and create a structural foundation to overcome these limitations. The exercise teaches students about geotechnical and structural engineering, engineering design, and collaboration while engaged in a fun competition.

10. The Domino Effect - Students will use wooden dominoes to design paths utilizing as many turns, branches, and steps as possible. The objective is to score as many points as possible by knocking down the dominoes given certain scoring constraints. Students will be split into groups of three and given 100 wooden dominoes each to complete this task. This activity will address mathematics, problem-solving skills, teamwork, time management, and creativity. May the odds be ever in your favor!

11. Wind Turbine Construction - The students will have an opportunity to construct model versions of wind turbines and measure the voltage their design generates using a small electric fan to simulate the wind. The wind turbines can be built so that the blades are vertical and the generator shaft is horizontal, or they can build the blades to be vertical with the generator shaft to, also, be vertical. The students will be asked to evaluate their designs from an aesthetic point of view as well as how much material they needed to use and how much voltage (power) their design was able to generate.

12. Design a Theme Park Ride - In groups, using various given materials, students will design a theme park ride that will drop as fast as possible while keeping riders safely inside the ride. There will be other constraints to make the design activity challenging. With the help of UNH engineers, students will learn the various steps required for good engineering - ask, imagine, build, test, and improve. This activity will address mechanical engineering, designing, teamwork, and time management.