Designing with STEM

Designing with STEM introduces students to the fun and powerful tools of designing and problem solving.  The activities and academic applications engage the learner to embrace Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics while they examine each of the integral steps of critical design and problem solving.

74-117 Clock Hours Total

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Individual Units in this Course:

Introduction to Problem Solving

This unit introduces students to problem solving techniques and methods.  Students explore magnetism and how running an electric current through a wire coil can create an electric field.  Students will experiment with materials to build a working speaker where sound is produced by using an electromagnet and a permanent magnet. Students will learn about different STEM careers through research and creating a career brochure.

Time: 5-6 Hours

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Exploration and Use of Online Services

This unit reviews safe and ethical ways to use the Internet. Students are given different scenarios about online safety and then reflect on the scenarios in small groups before sharing with the rest of the class.

Time: 2-3 Hours

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Defining the Problem

This unit will show students how to define a problem, variables, and proper experimentation. These exciting rocket based activities introduce students to the design of controlled experiments including the isolation of variables, methodical approaches to problem solving, and the engineering design process. Students get hands on experience through constructing three types of rockets.

Time: 8-12 Hours

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Copyright and Intellectual Property

This unit reviews copyrights, trademarks, patents, plagiarism, and the laws surrounding them. Students synthesize this information and take a stance on why copyrights are or are not important.

Time: 1-2 Hours

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Determining and Defining the Criteria


This unit reviews how to identify and outline the criteria of a problem. There are two fun and educational hands-on experiments in this unit: Building a hydraulic can crusher and building a hydraulic robotic arm. Students learn about input and output forces, ratios, surface area and volume of fluids in this exciting unit.

Time: 3-5 Hours

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Developing Ideas

Students learn how to create floor plans and apply this through mapping out an emergency evacuation plan. This unit starts with rough sketches of the classroom that turn into scaled drawings with dimension lines, symbols, and a key. Fire safety and evacuation is reviewed so that students can make realistic evacuation plans for their homes and then practice the drills with their families.

Time: 4-6 Hours

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Creating Solutions

Students’ creativity and ability to execute a plan is put to the test. This unit presents students with three open-ended problems and they must design, construct, and test their solutions while keeping in mind Newton’s three laws. The problems include creating a speedboat to propel across water, a Newton scooter to move across land, and a tower composed of straws and paperclips that will hold weight while withstanding earthquakes.

Time: 4-8 Hours

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Exploration of Networking and IT Support

This unit introduces how networks are setup and how information is sent and received between devices. It introduces the equipment used and the protocols that are followed. Students are given criteria for networking a small restaurant and create a diagram and floor plan for how they would set it up.

Time: 1 Hours

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Testing and Evaluating

This unit gives students multiple problems and experiments and focuses on how they test and evaluate their solutions. In the Bubbling Plants Activity, students experiment with different amounts of light on water plants and the impact on photosynthesis. For Waterproof the Roof, students use various materials to design and create a roof that will withstand a heavy downpour. Students experiment with basic programming by writing a set of directions to lead a blindfolded classmate through obstacles in the Programming a Friend activity. They use iterative testing to modify the program each time they test it.

Time: 3-6 Hours

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Hardware, Operation Systems and Application Software

This unit introduces the physical components that make up a computer along with the operating system and application software. Students are given an interactive set of questions that take them through the parts of a computer, and then research brands, models, features, and costs of different computer components that would upgrade a system’s performance.

Time: 3-4 Hours

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Presenting the Solution

Students get to rock out on this unit as they construct electric guitars and investigate sound. Students will learn the basic parts of a guitar and how a pickup transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy through the process of induction. This unit reviews how to create a formal and informal presentation including how to make a professional slide show and tips for public speaking.

Time: 5-8 Hours

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