5 Plans for Engineers’ Week

Homeschool 2012-132A couple of weeks ago I shared some of the activities we did for Engineers’ Week last year.  This year I’m actually planning ahead so I’m hoping it will be even more fun!

1. Visit a FAB LAB.  What is a FAB LAB?  It’s a fabrication laboratory where people can create “stuff” using 3D printers, laser engravers, and other equipment.  Check out this link to find out what you can do at a FAB LAB or this one to find one near you.

2. Computer Programming – Since E has 2 years of experience programming the LEGO Mindstorm NXT through  FIRST LEGO League (FLL) and C will be on a FLL team next season, we will be completing a programming challenge similar to the one found here.

If you want to do programming as part of Engineers’ Week, but don’t have access to a robot give code.org, light bot, or scratch a try.

3. Take a fun factory tour –  Check out Factory Tours USA to see what factory tours are available in your area.  We’re planning to tour a Chocolate Factory with some homeschooling friends.

4. Celebrate Pi Day on 3/14 – I’m planning to do circle art and calculate the perimeter of a very large circle.  Of course we will make chocolate pie for dessert.

5. Building Bridges –  We’ve recently picked up a couple of books about bridges including one with directions for building your own bridges.  We’re lucky enough to live close to a few historic lift bridges, so we will visit some of those.  I’m also planning on the boys putting together a model of a lift bridge like the one above.

Some of my plans may go by the wayside if the boys come up with their own ideas, that’s okay. This is a fun week of exploring, creating, building, and designing.

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Engineers’ Week Past

Back when I was in Engineering School, we always celebrated Engineers’ Week right around St. Patricks Day, because St. Pat was an engineer.  You didn’t know that?  It’s true – he created the first  “worm drive”.  (Ba-dum-dum)  Okay, so the joke hasn’t gotten any better, but it is really fun to have an Engineers’ Week.

Last year our celebration was pretty spontaneous.  We purchased marshmallows, toothpicks, straws, and cups for building.

Engineer's Week - Green Boat Engineers Week - Boat

The boys found some left over foam supplies and built boats.  Since it was cold outside the stairs became the test ground for the boats.  The objective was to safely get your LEGO mini-figs down the stairs in your boat.

Toothpick Ferris Wheel

They had a great time making marshmallow and toothpick towers.  E even made a ferris wheel.

The Great Wall of China

We also happened to be studying ancient China, so after making several marshmallow creations and cup towers the boys built their own version of the Great Wall and attacked it with LEGO mini-figs and catapults.

DSC_0778

On Chemical Engineering Day, we explored non-Newtonian fluids by mixing up a batch of oobleck.  Start with equal parts water and cornstarch then make additions until you have a liquid when the mixture is uncompressed and a solid when under pressure.

Red Cabbage Indicator

 

 

We also tested the pH of a variety of substances using red cabbage as the indicator.  You can make a pH paper from the cabbage juice, but we preferred using the cabbage right out of the food processor.

Chocolate Pi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On 3/14 we celebrated Pi day by making and eating Chocolate Pie.

Swiffer Bot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On computer science day we messed around a little on Scratch and E built a “Swiffer Bot” for me using his NXT.

Lightning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finished up the week by taking a field trip to the science center.

 

 

 

 

 

We had a ton of fun with lots of hands on learning!  The boys really got into it and they are looking forward to having another Engineers’ Week this year.

This year we are planning to celebrate Engineers’ Week March 10 – 16.   I’m working on a list of ideas to share with you all soon!

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