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ENGINEER – brEaking New Ground In the scieNcE Education Realm

ENGINEER – brEaking New Ground In the scieNcE Education Realm

Realization period: 1. 10. 2011 – 30. 9. 2014
Provider/Programme: Framework program for research and technological development
Principal investigator/project coordinator: Bloomfield Science Museum Jerusalem
Co-Investigator: Techmania Science Center o.p.s.
Category Call FP7-SCIENCE-IN-SOCIETY-2011-1


The international project ENGINEER has supported the adoption of innovative science teaching methods in Europe and provided education for teachers in a project ("research") oriented teaching. It is based on the proven “Engineering is Elementary” (EiE) program, developed by the Boston Museum of Natural Science (BMOS) in 2003-04 and now widely used in elementary schools in the United States.

The ENGINEER project developed 10 learning modules inspired by engineering practices. During the lessons, students were faced with an engineering problem and, using cheap and affordable material, designed, built prototypes, tested, and adapted them so that the final product was the solution to the initial problem. The teaching modules were tested in a pilot validation at partner schools and finalized before use in overlapping activities.

The ENGINEER consortium included 10 museums/science centers and 10 of their partner primary schools, as well as universities and other organizations whose expertise contributed to the project's tasks.

Educational projects

Music in the ears - design and manufacture of sound generator

The student's task is to create a soundtrack for the video. Pupils watch a video clip that does not contain sound. The main task is to create a soundtrack for this film using your own soundbox. Pupils first examine the sound and its properties and find out how the size of the resonant box affects the resulting sound. They then independently design their sound boxes and use them to create a soundtrack to the opening video.

Inhale and exhale - design of equipment for measuring the volume of exhaled air

The inspiration for inventing this device is the story of a girl who has breathing problems and needs help diagnosing the problem. In visual experiments, students understand the performance of the respiratory system and thus distinguish between the terms "total air volume", and "exhaled air volume" and think about the possibilities of measuring these quantities. In groups, they design devices for measuring the volume of exhaled air after the maximum inhale. together they look for the most suitable solution and try to assemble their device.

Vacuum cleaner - an invention that cleans up the mess

There is dust in the classroom. The teacher confronts the students with the following problem: the students' task is to design a dust extraction device. First, the students examine the principle of operation of the fan in the hairdryer and after turning on the electric motor they examine the subsequent airflow. In groups, they plan their solution to the problem and produce their vacuum cleaner according to the best concept. Together they test the prototype and try to improve it.

High and dry -  Will it float or sink?

In the story of two children who spend most of the summer by the sea and on a small island near the beach, the students have to solve the problem of how to transport various objects to the island without getting them wet. Pupils study the phenomenon of floating and sinking, dealing with the physical properties of fluids. Through a system of questions and answers, they look for preconditions for solving the problem and carry out experiments together. Using various types of materials, students build a floating surface that can carry objects on the water surface while staying dry.

Top pilots - building a glider from common material

Pupils have to build a glider with which they can send messages and small objects between two houses across an alley three meters wide. Pupils deal with the issue of flying, suitable materials, and aerodynamics. Pupils select materials suitable for the construction of the glider and design them together. All prototypes are gradually tested and verified to meet the required criteria.

Up to my knees - construction of a garden pond

A new shopping center is to be built in the city park, where there is a pond inhabited by frogs and other animals. The task of the students is to create a replacement habitat and to design the organization of work in its construction. Pupils in groups study the properties of the soil and test its permeability in particular. They test different types of pond building materials to find out which is impermeable. Through the process of engineering problem-solving, they design their model of a pond on the school grounds. They decide on the most suitable material for the bottom and walls and try to construct a final model.

Feet warm - how to make winter boots

Pupils forget to wear warm shoes on their trip to Greenland. Before the planned trip with the dog sled, they only have one day to create spare shoes that isolate from the cold. Pupils address issues related to thermal insulation and how materials conduct heat. Through experiments, they select suitable materials with which they can carry out their plans. In the construction part, students will try to solve the main task - to create shoes that will protect their feet from the cold.

Popular mechanics - create your own machine

Pupils have to invent devices for counting visitors in the toy store and build some mechanical toys for the store. The basics they will try to learn are various forms of mechanical motion transmission. They will get acquainted with the principle of operation of mechanical transmissions, they will gradually obtain the necessary information that they will need for the construction of specific machines. They design their mechanical machine and select suitable materials. The teacher helps the students to determine the production processes and design solutions. Together they create the prototypes of mechanical machines.

Exact balance - building a hanging sculpture

The teacher tells the pupils about an artist who needs help anchoring a hanging sculpture in the entrance hall of their school. Pupils explore the properties of suspended bodies and devise ways to anchor a work of art that has several other weights hanging on it. They will get deeper acquainted with the science of balance and physical forces that act on the suspended sculpture. Through experiments, they investigate the properties of these forces, looking for ways to find the center of gravity of the body and how to create counterweights. Pupils in pairs plan and build their hanging sculptures with several levels of material from commonly available materials.

Water for life - how plants conduct water

Pupils are supposed to help a little boy who travels to another planet with his family and solves the problem of how to irrigate plants. Pupils discuss the importance of plants, how plants receive energy from sunlight, and the process of photosynthesis. They draw up a plan to build a greenhouse that gives plants everything they need to live. In simple experiments, they learn how plants conduct water and test the principle of soaking on materials of inanimate origin. With knowledge of the issue, students should devise a way to bring water without the use of an independent energy source to a greenhouse where people can grow plants and thus ensure their survival. They will then design and verify their aqueduct in practice.


Techmania Science Center o.p.s.

Address: U Planetária 1, 301 00 Pilsen

E-mail: projekty(et)techmania.cz