Educational Resources Lets Talk Science Challenge participants

Screen shot from Solutioneers Episode 2

Screen shot from Solutioneers Episode 2

This week's episodes and hands-on activity explore re-engineering.

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On this episode of Solutioneers, when Kat suggests the Solutioneers have to do something different for the National STEAM Speak competition, the team takes inspiration from previous examples of re-engineering, such as Galileo’s telescope, to modify their project idea instead of losing all the work they have done so far.

On this episode of the Solutioneers, the team takes inspiration from previous examples of re-engineering.

And on Future Minds, meet David Vidican, who has created reflective materials for bikers and skateboarders and UV lights for cars. The UV lights make the reflective material light up to aid night driving. 

Meet David Vidican, who has created reflective materials for bikers and skateboarders and UV lights for cars.

Now it's your turn!

Solutioneers episode 2 activity header
Buiild a better backpack

Is your backpack a big jumbled mess? Does your recharging cord get wrapped around your indoor shoes? If you could build a better backpack, how would you change it? Using your backpack or school bag as a starting point, design and build a new and improved bag to meet all your needs.

Download the activity as a [PDF]

WHAT DO YOU NEED?

  • a backpack
  • Designing materials: pencil, paper, pencil crayons, markers, etc.
  • Building materials: found or recycled containers, plastic bags, scrap fabric, fun foam, string, felt, etc.
  • Fasteners: glue, tape, needle and thread, Velcro™, brass fasteners, staples, pipe cleaners, twist ties, etc.
  • Optional Items: insulating materials, decorative materials, safety-related materials, etc.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

  1. Brainstorm all the features you think your backpack needs. These “must haves” and “must dos” will become your Testing Criteria for the new design in Step 4. 
  2. Design your backpack by making a labelled drawing.
  3. Build the changes into the backpack.
  4. Test and modify your design. Use the Design Testing Checklist to help with this.

Does your backpack hold everything it needs to? 
Is it comfortable? 
Would it change your balance if you were on a bike? 
How could it be even better?
​​​​

thought bubbles with guiding questions for brainstorming
Thought bubbles with guiding questions for brainstorming

BACKPACK DESIGN TESTING CHECKLIST

 

  1. List all the criteria you want your backpack to meet from Step 1. For example, Has a separate pocket to neatly store phone charging cord. 

  2. Check off each criteria that your backpack meets. For example, I am still able to balance my bike with my full backpack. 

  3. Determine the changes needed (modifications) to improve the design. For example, Add tie straps to hold the pack to my waist when I am biking.

 

Backback Design Testing Checklist
Testing Criteria √ / x Changes Needed √ / x

EXAMPLE: Has a separate pocket to neatly store phone charging cord. 

Yes, but move it to an easier to reach place on the backpack.
EXAMPLE: I am still able to balance my bike with my full backpack. x Add tie straps to hold the pack to my waist when I am biking. x
       
       
       

WHAT’S THE POINT?

The process of changing and improving the design of a product or system is called re-engineering. By changing the design of a backpack to add new features you are re-engineering the pack. Technological innovations and the invention of new materials can lead to the re-engineering of products. The invention of Velcro™ in the 1950s dramatically changed the design of space suits. This new fastener made it much easier for astronauts to get in and out their bulky space suits. Soon after, it was incorporated into ski suits and scuba gear, and today it is widely used in the design of clothing, footwear, and even backpacks! 

IS RE-ENGINEERING EVER REALLY FINISHED?

The backpack can always be improved as you find problems you didn’t think of at first, and as you use it or try it out in new situations. This is the life of a designer - new insights from users arise as products are used and new iterations are produced in response. Can you think of how many updates you make to your mobile device or computer in a year?

WHAT ELSE?

Check out these cool careers that involve product design:

Try these other engineering challenges:

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