Architectural/Engineering Unit-Project: REACH

1. First, study this slide show to learn some important architectural terms.
2. Now that you have studied these important architectural terms, you are going to complete a scavenger hunt to demonstrate your understanding.
3. Now we are going to learn about and use shapes that make structures strong, first focusing on compression and tension. You will need a small group of 4 people ideally. If you have an odd number of people, repeat some of these exercises so that everyone has a chance to try it.
  • First, work in pairs to experience compression for yourselves. Student pairs should to stand face to face and gently press their palms together at about shoulder height (as in a "high five"). Then slowly lean into each other. Describe what you feel, where you feel it, and what you think is causing the feeling.
  • Next, I want you to experience tension. While standing and facing each other, student pairs should grab hands and gently lean away from each other. Describe what you feel, where you feel it, and what you think is causing the feeling.
  • Now watch the Triangles and Arches in Architecture stills collage and discuss the following:

    • Triangles and Arches in Architecture link
    • Which shapes provide strength to structures?
    • What shapes are used in buildings in your neighborhood? In large cities? In ancient buildings?
    • Is using certain shapes to increase the strength of structures a modern idea?
    • What architectural elements have carried through from ancient to modern cultures? What elements have changed? How do you think these shapes impact the designs that today's engineers and architects choose for buildings?
4. In your small group, get a bag containing straws and paper clips. Think click on the link below and follow the directions. 
  • Straw Shapes Handout
  • Now that you have finished the Straw Shapes activity, identify the areas in each shape that experience tension and compression when a load is placed on top of the shape.
  • Explain why the triangle is stronger than the square in terms of the distribution of tension and compression.   
5. Next, watch the Triangles: Designing a Newspaper Chair video and continue to discuss how triangles help distribute forces such as tension and compression under a load. Stop the video at 2:35. Do not watch the whole thing. video link  
  • In your small group, gather masking tape and newspaper. Build a "chair" out of these materials that will support your weight when you sit on it. Do not be wasteful with the tape. Discuss why something so flimsy like newspaper can be strong enough to hold your weight.
6. Now it is your turn to pick an engineering challenge of your choice. You must work with a small group of 3-5 people. Choose wisely. You must be able to work cooperatively together and not distract each other. These challenges require you to think critically and be creative. You must problem solve in order to complete it. Some of the challenges require very few materials while others require quite a few. Think about this while your group picks your challenge. As a group, you are responsible for getting all of your needed supplies. I will not be providing your supplies. The links provided to the engineering challenges are lesson plans for teachers. You will be your own teacher, so your group will need to use the provided lesson plans to teach yourselves what to do. There are student resources as well. Your group will need to use both. There are 16 different challenges/lesson plans to choose from. Carefully look them over and submit in writing the members of your group, the challenge selected, the materials you will need, and how you will provide the materials. You will have until the end of the first week in May to complete your engineering challenge. If your group finishes early, please choose another challenge to work on.