Day One




Start with basic findings of what the class assumes engineering is. Ask the question “What does an Engineer do?” Keep a list of ideas that students present for further follow up. Have class come up with ideas of the different engineering disciplines. Facilitate the process and keep a record of all of the different types of engineers the class recognizes. Discuss the different types of engineering employments venues; consulting, industry, governmental, research, academia, etc. Introduce simple machines: levers, pulleys, inclined planes, wheel and axle, gears, cams, wedge, screw, and springs or rubber bands for stored energy.

Engineering Tools (Motion, Energy, Simple Machines)


Discuss Newton’s Laws of Motion:

The First law has two parts:

A. An object at rest will remain at rest unless an unbalanced force causes it to do otherwise.

B. An object in motion will continue in motion in a straight line with constant speed unless an

unbalanced force causes it to do otherwise.

The Second law states:

A = F/M. This tells us that the acceleration of a body (A) depends upon the unbalanced force (F) and the mass (M) of the object. What does all this mean? It means that the rate at which an object changes its velocity depends upon how much force is used and how much mass (inertia) the object has.

The Third Law:

Action and Reaction: If object A exerts a force on object B, then object B exerts a force on object A. How many times have we said, "for every action there is an equal reaction?" Don't punch a wall too hard because it will punch back!!


Energy is a very interesting topic to discuss because energy comes in so many different forms. We are interested in just two types of energy, potential and kinetic. First of all what is energy? Energy is that entity in our universe which allows us to do work. Work is done when a force acts through a distance. We can write this as: WORK = FORCE x DISTANCE.

Gravitational Potential Energy is the energy that an object has due to its position in the Earth's gravitational field. If you drop a rock on your foot it hurts more the further the rock falls. This is because the higher the rock is above your foot the more potential energy it has. Kinetic energy is the energy an object has due to its mass and velocity. The faster your car is moving, the more kinetic energy it has. One nice property of energy is that it can be transformed from one form to another.

Simple Machines

The basic forces that nature provides are gravity and friction. Gravity causes things to have weight. Friction provides resistance to motion. Overcoming or utilizing these forces is a fundamental part of Engineering. Over the centuries people designed ways to do just that. The use of simple machines provides the basis for many engineering accomplishments. Levers, pulleys, inclined planes, wheel and axle, gears, cams, wedge, screw, and springs or rubber bands for stored energy, should be discussed and highlighted.

The following website is a good one to use to see these items:

YouTube has numerous videos that creatively show the principles of energy and simple machines.


Have students come up with list of items that are not linked to engineering. Then explain how Engineers are involved with those items.

Here are a couple of experiments that may be used to demonstrate the principles discussed above: Engineers are encouraged to come up with their own ways to help students understand how simple machines use energy.

Experiment I

OBJECTIVE: To investigate Newton's First Law of Motion.


1. Place the cart on a flat horizontal surface such as the floor. Does the cart move all by itself? The

answer is no if the floor is level. This illustrates Newton’s first law, part (A). An object at rest will remain at rest forever if no unbalanced forces act on it.

2. Now give the cart a push. You will observe that the cart will continue to move in a straight line until it

hits the wall, if you push hard enough. This illustrates part (B). An object in motion will continue in motion in a straight line at constant speed unless an unbalanced force acts on it.

In this case you may note that the cart slows a little before hitting something. This is because of friction which is always with us. Friction is nothing more than a force which appears when two objects move or tend to move relative to one another. If we could eliminate friction altogether the cart would not slow down at all!!

Experiment II

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the relationship between force, mass, and acceleration.


1. Place the cart on a horizontal table.

2. Place the table clamp pulley at the edge of the table.

3. Attach a string to the cart, pass it over the pulley and attach a 100 gram mass M1 to it as shown in

Figure I.

4. Let the cart go and watch it accelerate.

Remember to bring the focus of the day back into play at this point: An Engineer is a VISIONARY.

(Refer to the activities list that was included with the curriculum packet for other activities or create a new one yourself. Please keep notes on any new activities you do that are not included on the list for later incorporation into the list. Please pass the information back to EITC Executive Committee.)

Today is the 1st day of the RUBE GOLDBERG Project so thinking of ideas on what the class’s rube is going to be, should be the focus.

Introduce the RUBE GOLDBERG project. Review the Rules and Regulations (page 6), Goal of the Contraption (page 7) and the Judging Criteria to be Used for Point Accumulation (page 7). .

Figure 1

5. Again, with the attached string on the cart, pass it over the pulley and attach a 100 gram mass M1 to

the string as shown in Figure I.

6. Now place a 1000 gram mass M2 in the cart and again watch it accelerate. This time you will see a

much smaller increase in velocity with time. The more mass you put in the cart the slower it will pick up speed (Accelerate).

7. Now try changing the hanging mass M1 and the mass in the cart. You will see that the larger M1 is

for a given M2 the faster the acceleration and the larger M2 is the slower the acceleration for a given M1. This illustrates Newton's second law. This also illustrates his third law in that when M1 pulls on the cart, the cart pulls back on M1 otherwise M1 would just fall to the floor in free fall.

Key Points for Day One

VERY IMPORTANT - The students must envision, design, build, test, debug, and market their project to the judges. Too much involvement by the engineer WILL impact and jeopardize the students’ score.

• The Engineer is to ensure safety and facilitate the students’ creativity.

• The students should:

o Inventory materials that are going to be used. o Make a list of things that are needed and have students supplement them. o Prepare building platform. o Keep a notebook and if possible working drawings that would showcase the project to


There are many ways to engage a class of 20 - 30 fifth grade students. One approach involves creating specific teams with a rotating schedule so each student participates on each team throughout the program period. Teams may include:

• Design Team

• Construction Team

• Journal Team

• Theme Decoration Team

• Advertising/Promotion Team

Another approach is to break the class into ‘X’ number of teams with each team assigned to build one or more working steps from the ‘stuff’ they brought in. Four students per team seems to be the magic number. Larger groups make it harder to keep a ‘focus’.

It is important to establish the theme (school mascot, movie, story, video game, etc.) of your Rube early as that will drive many of the activities such as layout, colors, identification, advertising, logos, etc. The Engineer may assign this as a homework assignment to be evaluated and voted on during the next session.

****Review simple engineering principles of simple machines that you will use building the Rube (i.e.: inclined plane, force of gravity, levers, pulleys, rollers, bearings, hydraulics, pinned connections, other connections, weights and balance, etc.)