During an energy and force of motion unit, Winthrop Avenue students in Christopher Merz’s class were given a task to design and build shields to protect an object against a collision. During the science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics activity the students not only learned about the absorption of energy, they were also given the opportunity to utilize fair testing methods in which the conditions and variables of their experiments with the shields remained constant.
Divided into teams, the students started their challenge by designing a model of a protective cover out of at least two materials, including cotton, tape, paper, cardboard and more to protect an object from cracking when dropped from a height of one meter. During the design process, the students defined design problems that needed to be solved, including constraints and criteria, and compared and evaluated solutions to their design issues.
Each team used tinkercad.com to create and print a 3D shield based on their finished model. The printed shields then wrapped around a plastic Easter egg holding two marbles, which were individually dropped in a controlled environment. The object of the testing was to determine which shield design adequately protected the eggs from breaking apart and spilling the marbles.
Throughout the challenge, students asked questions and predicted outcomes about the changes of energy that occurred when their objects collided with the ground.