Principles of Engineering class uses creative projects to teach concepts
The air in The Principles of Engineering class vibrated with a controlled chaos as students rushed around, trying to put the final touches on their compound machine for their in-class competition on Tuesday, Oct. 9. The competition involved teams of students designing and building compound machines.
Made up of fischertechnik components, the machines had to include at least four mechanisms such as gear systems, pulley systems, sprocket systems and chain systems. The students then competed to see whose design was most efficient. This involved testing which machine could lift two newtons the fastest. The winners of the competition received candy bars and soda.
Principles of Engineering teacher Jason Smith said that the class enjoyed the project because it offered something they haven’t done yet.
“Up until now most of what they have done is simple construction without creativity.” Smith said, “[Being able to] use their imagination more … is the reason they enjoy it.”
Junior Alyssa Hobson felt that the project helped prepare her for life after school.
“[The project] taught me a lot of calculations I’ll probably end up using because I want to be an engineer. [It also helped teach] problem solving,” Hobson said.
Aside from the prizes and real-world experience the project gave, Smith said that the project also let students gain familiarity with the engineering kits, which the class progressively uses as the year goes by.
“This activity lets [the students] think to use the engineering kits, so it gets them into learning [how to use them],” Smith said. “I call it the head fake [because] they don’t even know they’re learning it.”