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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Where's the Engineering: Wild Feet

Our latest engineering challenge, Wild Feet, was centered around the idea of biomimicry. Scholars were introduced to the idea that engineers often look to nature to solve problems. In this particular challenge scholars were asked to work with a partner to investigate materials then plan and design a model of a shoe sole that would not slip or slide easily.
We first examined several different animal feet to observe how the unique structure of their feet helped them survive in their habitats. (This idea is part of an upcoming science unit and this challenge laid the groundwork for our study of animal characteristics and adaptations.)


The next step was to investigate some of the design materials that would be available. Scholars investigated the properties of the materials as well as how the individual materials performed on the testing surfaces. 



Scholars then used that information to work with a partner to create a plan that would guild them through the design process.





The plans were then used to design the sole for the shoes.



 


Scholars then tested the soles on rough and smooth surfaces and on gentle and steep inclines.

After much testing...and predicting...and discussion...and improving... scholars concluded that rubber, ridged weather stripping placed horizontally, created the best non-slip sole for a shoe.


So, what important engineering concepts were learned?
  • Engineers sometimes look to nature to solve problems.
  • Investigating materials prior to planning is an important step in the engineering process.
  • Paying attention to data gathered during investigations leads to effective planning.
  • Sharing ideas and listening to ideas within a partnership is important.
  • Precise and thoughtful building/designing leads to successful models.
  • Gathering information during the testing phase of the engineering process is critical before planning improvements.
  • Modesty in success and persistence in trial are important character qualities.  










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