In every EiE unit, we challenge students to solve a real-world problem with the Engineering Design Process. But around our favorite holidays, we can’t help but brainstorm fantastical design challenge contexts that fit the season. This past spring, we suggested out-of-this-world EiE modifications for Star Wars Day. This month, we’re bringing you some Halloween-themed modifications for spooky engineering fun in your classroom!
Outbreak Alert!: Engineering a Zombie Response
When we first developed the Engineering Everywhere unit Outbreak Alert! Engineering a Pandemic Response, our curriculum developers tossed around the idea of making the titular outbreak a zombie-themed disease. In the end, the team decided that the design challenge would center around creating an antiviral for a generic virus. But for a spooky Halloween modification, you can return this Engineering Everywhere unit to its zombie roots! The unit sets a context with fictional news reports describing the progress of the virus and any new symptoms. For a zombie context, change up your symptom descriptions to include a craving for “braaaaains,” or try your hand at voice acting and give zombie voices to the newscasters! This creepy theme also opens up the door for student creativity: the unit includes a PSA-poster-design activity, which is ripe for zombification!
Hop to It: Containing a Swamp Monster
Invasive species—non-native animals, plants, or organisms that cause harm to either an ecosystem, economy, or human health—can be from out of this world! Our Engineering Adventures unit Hop to It: Safe Removal of an Invasive Species has kids work as mechanical engineers to design a trap that can catch a cane toad, an invasive species in Australia, where the unit is set. Kids need to think about how the trap can be set from a safe distance, and how the different parts of the trap interact with each other to catch the toad. Instead of having your young engineers design a trap for a toad, think about the supernatural creatures that could need containment. Is your town overrun with werewolves? Design traps to stop them in their tracks!
Thinking Inside the Box: Designing Pumpkin Packages
Designed to be taught alongside a science unit on plants, our in-school package engineering unit, Thinking Inside the Box: Designing Plant Packages, has student engineers designing packages for plants while considering both the needs of the plant inside and of the consumer who will receive the plant. For a spooky Halloween tie-in, have your students consider the specific needs of a pumpkin—how could such a large gourd be transported without getting bruised? How will it be protected from the humidity that could cause it to rot? Does the package need to account for the pumpkin’s heavy weight? Nothing says Halloween like a pumpkin or its spookier cousin—a jack-o’-lantern!