Don Higdon explains why NASA needs engineers and discusses the purpose of the engineering design process video series created for NASA BEST. He lists the steps in the Boston Museum of Science engineering design process — ask, imagine, plan, create, experiment and improve. He concludes by showing a simple hands-on experiment for students.
Atal Tinkering Labs ATL
This Marble Mouse is an amazing toy from China. Fold the cut-out of the Marble Mouse from a card sheet. Insert a marble in its elliptical tummy hole. The mouse is all ready to roll. Place it on a book with the marble down. As you tilt the book the mouse will roll round and round.
Make a very beautiful butterfly using colorful magazine paper. The wings of the butterfly are made by crimping paper. Then join two pairs of wings and stick them to the card body to complete the butterfly. You can hang this beautiful butterfly with a thread on the wall.
This cloth ball is made by sewing 5-petals and 2-pentagons of cloth. A big balloon is then placed in the buttonhole and inflated. The mouth of the balloon is twisted and tucked it in the buttonhole. You can play with this wonderful bouncy ball. You can wash it when it becomes dirty.
This experiment demonstrates that a fresh egg sinks in ordinary water and floats in salty water. A fresh egg will sink in plain tap water. Now place the egg in a brine solution and the egg will float. If you try to push it in the egg again pops its head out of the water.
See resonance of petals with this readymade head massager. There are big and small prongs to scratch your head. Pluck a big prong and another big prong will vibrate. Each time you pluck a prong a prong with similar length will vibrate.
This is not a “storm in a teacup” but a tornado in a bottle. Tape two bottle lids back-to-back and make a through hole. Screw two big bottles on the lids. The lower bottle should be filled with water. Upturn and give the bottles a circular shake. A tornado will swirl and spin giving you a feel for a real tornado.
Old toothpaste tubes are not for throwing because they can be made into a simple pump. The tube is cut in two unequal halves and a cut balloon is inserted in its mouth. The cut balloon becomes a “valve”. Even nursery grade children can enjoy this simple pump made from trash.
This traditional Indian toy demonstrates Centrifugal Force. It can be made by the poorest child. All you need is a broomstick, some thread and an eraser. Tie a big and small stick together and poke the rubber to make it heavy. Perch the toy on your index finger and spin it away to glory!
It is difficult for children to comprehend the abstract concepts like Centrifugal Force. This simple experiment will give children a “feel” for centrifugal force. As you spin the wire ring, the balls fly and stay up because of the force of spin.
At the heart of this Japanese lantern is a bulb in a cylindrical pivoted box. Hot air from the bulb while escaping pushes against the blades. This makes the box spin. As the box spins the pictures on it cast their beautiful shadows on the fixed cylinder. You will see a very beautiful shadow play of images.
The Talking Frog is a very dynamic paper toy and can be made with a paper square. The frog has a fixed jaw and a moving jaw which is operated by a stiff paper strip tucked in it. Make eyes and decorate the frog. Now gently hold the frog with one hand and push-pull the strip. The frog will move its jaw and will appear to be talking.
Children have made this toy for hundreds of years. Made from a paper square this dynamic rabbit flaps its ears as you move its tail. This instant toy takes less than a minute to make and always brings a smile on the faces of the children.
For this multiple generator you need 5 strong neodymium magnets, 5 insulated thin copper wire coils with 1000 turns and 5 LEDs. Place 5 modules with each coil attached to one LED on a wooden base. In the center is a vertical pivot. A CD with 5 strong magnets can spin on this pivot. The gap between the magnets and the coils is about 2-3mm. As you rotate the CD the moving magnetic field creates an EMF and all the LEDs light up brightly!
The cardinal principle of magnetism – like poles repel and unlike poles attract has been cleverly woven into this toy. Place ring magnets on a straw with similar poles facing each other. These magnets will repel each other. When pushed down the top magnets will bounce up.
Instead of a permanent magnet this motor has an electromagnet which is made by winding insulated copper wire on a sewing machine bobbin. Its spinning coil is made out a meter long insulated copper wire. On one end the entire insulation is scraped. On the other only 3-sides are scraped. The remaining insulation forms an ON/OFF switch. A 1.5-volt battery is sufficient to run this splendid motor.
For this experiment you will need a PVC pipe and a Bottle Brush that just fits into it. Hold the pipe vertically with left hand with half of the brush in it. Now repeatedly hit on top of pipe with the right hand. The brush will slowly climb up in the pipe.
This wonderful Bird of Peace has been designed by the famous Origamist Paul Jackson. This bird is a great symbol of peace. You can fold it from a card sheet and stand it on your table. It is a gift which your friends will deeply cherish.
The magnetic Dancing Dolls will keep very child enraptured for hours. The dolls are light make of wood, color wool and wire. In the base is a steel screw. Place the dolls on a card sheet and move a magnet from below. The dolls move left, then right and sometimes hold each others hands and dance a duo.