marshmallow tower

Marshmallow and toothpick towers

What problems do you want to solve?

  • use the classic [/Engineering%20Design%20Process Engineering Design Process] – ask, imagine, design / build (plan/ create / experiment), improve
  • build a tower with marshmallows and toothpicks

Engineering Design Process

  • NASA Now: Designing a New Martian Rover (video 6:20) – Aerospace engineer Jennifer Keyes shows how NASA engineers developed “TumbleCup,” a concept rover capable of traveling large distances on Mars. Engineering Design Process (4:33) – ask, imagine, plan, create, experiment, improve – YouTube
  • Engineering Design Process form – Google docs

What’s the problem?

Marshmallow Towers (video 1:47) – Lucie and Bianca teach kids concepts of architecture and structural engineering through marshmallow towers

  • build the tallest stable structure you can with 50 mini-marshmallows and 100 toothpicks

Ask – What? Ask questions, understand the need, identify the problem, define

  • What is the problem to solve? How will we know when we solved the problem?
  • What is already known?
  • Are there guidelines for what we can or can’t do?

Imagine – So what? Imagine, brainstorm, explore, discover

  • What are some other ideas for solutions to similar problems? * examples of towers and tall buildings, trusses, triangle – Pinterest board * tallest buildings and structures in the world – Wikipedia
  • How is this problem different from the examples?
  • Which ideas might work for solving this problem?

Design, Build – Plan, Create, Experiment – Now what? Plan, design. Do it. Create, try it out

  • What are some ideas to include in the design?
  • What does the best possible solution look like?
  • Make a prototype, and test it.
  • Does the prototype look like to plan? Does it still meet the requirements?

Improve – If this then what? Improve, make it better

  • Is this a good solution to the problem? Could it be better? How could this be improved?
  • How were each of the 4Cs – creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication – used during the project?
  • How does the Engineering Design Process help?

That’s engineering

  • triangles are stronger than squares
  • make things strong – use trusses, or framing
  • calculate the forces on a free-standing triangle or square, and prove that shapes other than triangles are statically indeterminate.
  • for a static system, all the forces must balance out: The sum of all forces acting on the system must be zero. Which also means that: 1) the sum of the horizontal components of the forces equals zero 2) the sum of the vertical components of the forces equals zero

Engineering ideas

  • forces, static system, truss, geometry, triangle, parallel, stability, materials, visualization, base, support, weight, strength, stability, symmetry, horizontal, vertical, components

Do It
Challenges for you to work on…

  • How was the Engineering Design Process used in the example of the tumblecup video?
  • Build the tallest stable structure you can with 50 mini-marshmallows and 100 toothpicks
  • Look at the towers made by other groups. What did they do differently? Are there some ideas that you could add to your tower to improve it?
  • Take pictures, record your findings and suggestions for improvement
  • Make a presentation including pictures, instructions for others to do this project on their own
  • What are some interesting man-made structures and objects? What were the questions the engineers asked for each step in the Engineering Design Process?

Learn more…

  • ScienceDays Cambridge Summer Tour 2008 – lesson plan, structures
  • Spaghetti tower – Materials simplified – 15 sticks of uncooked thin spaghetti and 30 mini-marshmallows Many forces … with the marshmallow and stick in the sticks. Redesign to correct for any structural flaws – Think about all of the ways … spaghetti. Marshmallows. 100 cm (1 m) of masking tape. Scissors (to cut spaghetti). Science journal. Pencil
  • Prototyping will come back – let cyclical process nothing physically to start – lots of recorded info Marshmallow … thin spaghetti and 30 mini-marshmallows What’s the problem? Ask * Imagine * Design, Build * Improve Ask – clarification ok to break spaghetti, marshmallows time limit must be moveable – not stuck
  • Society of Women Engineers SWE “marshmallow” astronauts 1K. Engineering Accessories – Learn the unique properties of polymers and identify
  • Force – absorbing system out of paper, straws, and mini-marshmallows; attach the shock absorber to a cardboard platform
  • Engineering Design Process being on the inside of your process a bit more. Marshmallow Challenge – identifying the assumptions