Survival Kit - STEM Project

Introduction: Survival Kit - STEM Project

About: Semi-retired...currently teach woodworking, sheet metal & CAD. Enjoy all outdoor activities...passion is x-c and alpine skiing.

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

Concepts covered:

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.

Lessons Learned:

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.

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    Mary Engleman
    Mary Engleman

    5 years ago

    Dave, I do not have a fax machine. I apologize. If you can scan the hard copies and post them I would appreciate it very much.

    Thank you,


    desperado dave
    desperado dave

    5 years ago

    Mary, I've located a hard copy...unfortunately I cannot find the electronic version. Is there a fax number I could send this to?

    Meantime I will attempt to scan these and post them


    Mary Engleman
    Mary Engleman

    5 years ago

    I like the idea. I would like to use this with my students. I cannot open the design brief instructable. I hope this matter can be taken care of quickly.

    Thank you!


    7 years ago

    This sounds like a great activity. However, the first 2 documents won't open.