Bring engineering activities into the classroom to engage students and address the engineering practices outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards.
To offer comprehensive STEM studies based upon Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), teachers must incorporate engineering activities that fulfill the eight necessary skills for a well-rounded education. Through engaging in simple engineering activities, using common–and cheap–household materials, teachers can relay engineering concepts to meet these standards.
Relying on the ring airplane design, groups of students will construct a paper model aircraft of the future. Much different from a traditional paper (or real) airplane design, this model relies on a single wing that wraps into a ring. Students will need only a few materials to complete this activity: 8.5″x11″ printer paper, transparent tape, and a ruler. Through performing engineering activities such as this, students will experience on a smaller scale the planning that NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate perform when developing innovative new aircraft designs.
Once your students have completed the activity, have them reconsider other engineering assumptions—if an airplane doesn’t need two wings, does a car need four wheels? Are there other designs for aircraft we haven’t considered? How can they redesign common objects to be more efficient, use less material, or keep users safer?