Introduction: Survival Kit - STEM Project
I teach Industrial Technology and Engineering Design, incorporating STEM principles (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) into my curriculum. My colleagues and I often collaborate on common subject matter in the various disciplines. For many students, it’s easier to grasp concepts if they can actually see their applications…
This project lends itself perfectly…
Students are tasked to design, create and test a product…Wilderness Survival Kit (See Fig.1 – Design Brief)
I play the role of a client and am available to answer or clarify questions throughout the process.
We initially spend time discussing the “design process”. There are many different versions, but the majority share several common steps: problem statement; defining criteria; research; brain-storming; sketching; modeling; testing; improvments; manufacture…. (See Fig.2 – Design Process)
I’ve discovered that gain better results working individually because they have ownership in the final product, and it’s theirs to keep! I still encourage them to collaborate and exchange ideas, but only with the consent of the designer…
Suspense’s are established…i.e. research, sketches, gathering materials, testing and presenting final product to client (See Fig.3 - Survival Kit Rubric)
While this is occurring, my colleagues are presenting supporting instruction in their classes. As examples:
Science: Basic Electricity; Magnetism; different regions - terrain & weather patterns; astronomy (navigation); wildlife habitats; experimentation process; documenting results
Mathematics: Calculating volume; converting English-to-metric and visa-versa;
Health/PE: First Aid; hypothermia; cold & hot weather injuries
Psychology: Basic human needs-shelter/food/water; combating panic or hysteria; maintaining mentally strong/positive attitude
Business & Marketing: Product development; advertising & promotion; distribution; pricing strategies
Designs can be created as an individual or in teams.
Design briefs explain the problem, identify expectations and establish constraints.
Decision matrices based on analysis and logic are used to facilitate decision-making (See Figure 4 – Survival Kit Decision Matrix).
Engineers develop models to evaluate possible solutions.
Knowledge gained in other fields directly affects the development of technological products and systems.
The design process proves to be an invaluable tool, when creating solutions to a problem.
Research and development are problem-solving approaches used widely in the business world and industry.
Volume and surface area are common to all designs and provide useful information to engineers.
Students will apply research and the design process to solve problems in and beyond the classroom.