Design Challenges

*Click the link of each title for a downloadable version of each Unit Plan
© 2013 by RePPrISE. All rights reserved.

Profit, Income, Expense Product Design Challenge*

Background and Problem Statement

Shark tank is hosting a student edition for their show!  They are looking for innovative products that will be popular among middle school students.  The “sharks” will give a choice of a base product to see how you would transform it into something spectacular! After coming up with your product, they want to hear a “pitch” for your product and sales. We will have a mock sale in our classroom so you can gather data about your sales and profit.


Constellation and Origin/Myth Design Challenge*

Background and Problem Statement

Ancient Greeks used stars as navigation tools and as a reference to help keep track of the changing seasons. They did this by grouping the stars into patterns known as constellations.

You are an ancient Greek astronomer, who will be creating and designing a new constellation and develop a myth to develop the origin of its nature.


Designing a Zip Line Carrier Design Challenge*

Background and Problem Statement

Forces are acting on objects at all time. When there are unbalanced forces acting on a object, the object will move. This motion is affected by the magnitude of those unbalanced forces. Some forces such as gravity tend to increase an objects motion. Other forces such as friction tend to cause an objects motion to decrease. Motion can be quantified by measuring the distance an object travels or the time it takes for an object to move. Isaac Newton explained the motion of objects. In his 1st Law of Motion he explained that objects tend to stay at rest or in motion unless an unbalanced force acts on it.

In the case of zip lines, gravity, friction and mass will have the biggest effects on the motion of the carrier. You will design a zip line carrier to safely and slowly carry a ping pong ball from one end of the zip line to the other. Engineers often use models and prototypes before sending people on a zip line. We will be creating a smaller classroom model to represent a real life carrier.


It’s Getting Hot (or Cold) in Here! Design Challenge*

Background and Problem Statement

Throughout the school year we get to experience the changing of the seasons.  At the beginning and the end of the year it can be hot and sticky, especially when you have class in a room that does not have air conditioning.  In the winter, the temperatures drop so low and it can make your classrooms quite chilly.  This fluctuating temperature over the course of the school year can directly affect your ability to focus and learn.  Wouldn’t it be handy of you had a small wearable item that you could keep at your seat that would instantly warm you up or cool you down a bit during these uncomfortable weather days?

Design and make a wristband prototype using your knowledge of chemical reactions and thermal energy that will either warm or cool you on an uncomfortable weather day.  Your wristband prototype must be able to be worn my middle school students and may not cause any disruptions to their ability to continue with regular classroom activities.  A clear set of directions must be included with your wristband prototype that instructs the wearer on how to start the chemical reaction that will cool or heat their wrist.  Be ready to present this project by describing how you created your wristband prototype, made it wearable, and what type of chemical process you used to create the cooling or heating component.  You will present your final product to your classmates, teachers, and school principals.


Earth Model Design Challenge*

Background and Problem Statement

Many students are having difficulty. Their textbooks are falling apart and there is no budget for new supplies. The board of education has asked you to help! You will have to utilize your knowledge about the Earth to create a model to help the 5th grade students understand.


Egg Drop Design Challenge*

Background and Problem Statement

One of the problems that we face when trying to visit other planets is landing safely. Spacecrafts need to be designed in such a way that landing does not damage everything inside the craft. The force that the craft experiences is from the impact due to the gravity of that planet pulling the craft down towards its surface.

Design a protective container for a spacecraft to survive a landing on a different planet by first designing a container that will protect an egg dropped from the roof of the school.


Ramp Design Challenge*

Background and Problem Statement

Math doesn’t exist in a classroom or in a vacuum.  It is at the heart of all our technology, construction, architecture, and science.  This challenge was designed with the aim of integrating a practical application of the Pythagorean Theorem into the requirements for an ADA wheelchair ramp.  In particular, it will push students to ask well-formed questions, to seek different correct solutions, and to look outside the classroom for connections to essential questions.  Wheelchair ramps are a statutory necessity in building construction.  The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) gives construction specifications of wheelchair ramps.  These ramps enable disabled persons and patients to move into and out of buildings without undergoing undue difficulties. Hence, construction of wheelchair ramps to ADA specifications is mandatory.

Your best friend has recently lost the ability to use his/her legs and now relies on a wheelchair for mobility. Her/his parents have added ramps to their house to make access easier, but it is very difficult for your friend to visit your home and the homes of other friends where ramps are not permanently installed.

Create a ramp that can make typical houses and other buildings handicap accessible. The ramp should be light,   easy to operate, safe and versatile.


Barbie Bungee Design Challenge*

Background and Problem Statement

Bungee jumping is an activity that involves jumping from a tall structure while connected to a large elastic cord. The tall structure is usually a fixed object, such as a building, bridge or crane; but it is also possible to jump from a movable object, such as a hot-air-balloon or helicopter, that has the ability to hover above the ground. The thrill comes from the free falling and the rebound.  When the person jumps, the cord stretches and the jumper flies upwards again as the cord recoils, and continues to oscillate up and down until all the kinetic energy is dissipated.

The consideration of cord length is very important in a bungee jump—too short, and the jumper doesn’t get much of a thrill; too long, and ouch!


Biomimicry Design Challenge*

Background and Problem Statement

The zombie apocalypse is here! In a zombie apocalypse, a widespread (usually global) rise of zombies hostile to human life engages in a general assault on civilization. Victims of zombies may become zombies themselves. This causes the outbreak to become an exponentially growing crisis: the spreading “zombie plague/virus” swamps normal military and law enforcement organizations, leading to the panicked collapse of civilian society until only isolated pockets of survivors remain, scavenging for food and supplies in a world reduced to a pre-industrial hostile wilderness. Use biomimicry to design a safe house that will provide protection from flesh-eating zombies. Build a model of your design and write a report in which you explain your reasoning behind your design and how it incorporates biomimicry. Each project will be judged on how well they address the issues below. Extra credit will be considered for thinking outside of the “box” and addressing issues not brought up.

* How many people can you fit in your safe house? How will you keep zombies out of your safe house?
* How are you handling access to your safe house? How will you escape in the event of a zombie intrusion?


Catapult Design Challenge*

Background and Problem Statement

Bloomfield Middle School is hosting a carnival for an end of the year celebration.  One of the games requires the player to launch a marshmallow from the ground with a catapult.   The player will have 3 chances to launch a marshmallow that must go over a castle that is 4 feet high (but not hit the ceiling that is 6 feet high) and hit a target that is 5 feet away on the first try.


Frozen Design Challenge*

Background and Problem Statement

Elsa and Anna have decided to expand their kingdom  – they need a new castle!  And, Olaf needs a new friend!
1-  Draw a blueprint of the sisters new castle, following the criteria (AREA & PERIMETER)
2-  Build your castle using the available materials (VOLUME)
3-  Create a new friend for Olaf using play-doh (VOLUME)
4-  Create one piece of furniture for your castle using paper (SURFACE AREA)


Probability Design Challenge*

Background and Problem Statement

Toys “R” Us is interested in creating a new game to sell to people who come from all over the world. That means, that this game will be sold in locations all over the United States and, hopefully, in other countries. The company is aware of how diverse our country is and would like to make people who come from different countries feel welcomed and accepted. At the same time, they want to enhance learning. Games make learning fun, don’t they? So, why not combine both concepts?

This year’s topic is probability, therefore Toys “R” Us is looking for help from all of you, the middle school students who have completed the probability unit, to design and build this new game. Your job, as a group, is to design and create a game that can be used to study and practice skills and concepts from the probability unit while also being culturally responsive. The game you design must give all players a fair chance of winning and be influenced by the cultural backgrounds of those designing the game.


Ping-Pong Ball Launcher, Challenges Students Creativity Design Challenge

By: Joanne Kornoelje and Harry T. Roman

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