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Rose-Hulman students working with younger students during a Grand Challenges K-12 outreach workshop.

Grand Challenges K-12 Outreach

The National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges inspire our students and faculty to positively impact others. One way we can do that is through supporting teachers and helping to teach younger students how science, engineering and math can be used to solve some of the world’s toughest problems.

Grand Challenges in the Classroom

The purpose of the Grand Challenges After-School Project is to increase 4th and 5th grade students’ interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The strategy used to increase interest is an after-school project developed by students in RH 330 and focused on the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges for Engineering.

Rose-Hulman student teams prepared a hands-on activity suitable for elementary school students. After feedback from peers, local teachers and Rose-Hulman faculty and staff, the teams completed the documentation of the activities including:

  • a one-page proposal
  • detailed instructions for the hands-on activity
  • supplements (visuals, videos, handouts)
  • a teacher’s guide with detailed background information on the specific Grand Challenge chosen and how to prepare for the activity

Get Grand Challenges materials for your classroom below. Each Challenge section contains multiple units.

Grand Challenge: Providing access to clean water

Cleaning water is a challenge that has largely been met from a technical perspective, yet millions of people lack access to a reliable source of clean water. Combined knowledge of social factors, usability issues and human-centered design will help meet the challenge of providing access to clean water.

Get resources for this challenge below.

Design, build and test a low cost water filter

Project:

Design, build and test a water filter that cleans water for the lowest cost out of commonly available materials.

Female student holds upside-down two-liter bottle filled with layers of sand to make a water filter.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

View the Video

Highlights

  • Students plan and design their filter, calculating the total cost before they build.
  • After building and testing the filters, students reflect on their design and think of possible improvements.

Design, build and test a multi-layer water filter

Design, build, and test a multi-layer water filter.

Male student holds upside-down two-liter bottle filled with layers of sand to make a water filter.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

Video Part 1

Video Part 2

Highlights

  • Students reflect on what water contaminants are removed by each filter layer.
  • Students reflect on how changing the order of the filter layers might impact the results.

Predict the filtering performance of a homemade water filter

Project:

Predict the filtering performance of a homemade water filter based on the filter media used.

Professor demonstrates water filtration using an upside-down two-liter bottle filled with layers of sand to make a water filter.

Resources

Teacher’s guide

View the video

Learning Objectives:

  1. To know the importance and benefits of clean water
  2. Be able to describe the water cycle
  3. Be able to define a renewable resource and how it relates to the water cycle
  4. Know the steps of water filtration and how water gets to your home
  5. Be able to record observations and analyze data

Water Filter Prototypes

Project:

Brainstorm solutions for providing access to clean water and making a water filter.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

View the video

Oil Clean-up

Project:

Learn about preventing oil spills to maintain usable water for both humans and the environment, and see how hard it is to remove oil from water.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

View the video

Grand Challenge: Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure

The United States received a D+ “GPA” from the American Society of Civil Engineers for the current state of our infrastructure. New approaches to the maintenance and upgrades of major urban systems can contribute to restoring our infrastructure while making urban environments more sustainable. Get resources for this challenge below.

Restoring and improving urban infrastructure

Project:

Build a communications tower model that is strong and meets a specified budget out of commonly-available materials.

Rose-Hulman students build structure from marshmallows and spaghetti as a K-12 outreach project.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

View the video

Highlights 

The following are Indiana State Learning Standards that our learning activity addresses: 

SCI.5.4.2 2010 - Investigate the purpose of prototypes and models when designing a solution to a problem and how limitations in cost and design features might affect their construction. 

MA.5.5.7 2000 - Add and subtract with money in decimal notation. 

MA.5.2.1 2000 - Solve problems involving multiplication and division of any whole numbers. 

MA.4.7.1 2000 - Analyze problems by identifying relationships, telling relevant from irrelevant information, sequencing and prioritizing information, and observing patterns.

Design, build and test a multi-layer water filter

Project:

Plan and build a city out of Legos to meet predetermined goals with limited resources and space.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

Sample Student Workbook

View the video

Highlights

This activity teaches students the fundamental challenges of city planning and maintenance that our country is experiencing today. It emphasizes the importance and value that different resources have to a modern day city planner. In the related exercise, students will be faced with the challenge of overcoming limited space for development.

Power Grid

Project:

Understand the network of power providers and consumers throughout the community.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

Grand Challenge: Make Solar Energy Economical

The sun bombards the Earth with large quantities of energy every day, yet very little of that energy finds its way into the power grid. Advances in material science, nanotechnology and energy storage are needed to move our civilization toward solar power as a reliable and economical source of energy. Get resources for this challenge below.

Make Solar Energy Economical

Project:

Discover how the distance from a light source impacts the speed of a solar powered car.

Solar cells; Solar cells used to power a small robot.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

View the Video

Highlights

Students will be able to relate the proximity of the light source to the maximum speed of the car.

Students will gain experience with the scientific process of running multiple trials, finding averages of the data and dealing with error caused by variables in an experiment. 

Building a Wind Turbine

Design, build and test a multi-layer water filter.

Project:

Build a wind turbine out of a milk or juice carton with paper blades. See how the blade design impacts the mechanical energy available.

Wind turbines; graphical explanation of wind turbine efficiency

Resources

Teacher's Guide

Creating Solar Ovens 1

Project:

Build a wind turbine out of a milk or juice carton with paper blades. See how the blade design impacts the mechanical energy available.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

View the video

Creating Solar Ovens 2

Project:

Understand solar energy firsthand by building a solar oven.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

View the Video

Grand Challenge: Basic Sciences

Science has been studied for centuries and is a crucial part of the world we live in. It is important that we understand these sciences not only to maintain the world we live in, but to improve it. Get resources for this challenge below.

pH Acids and Bases

Project:

Science has been studied for centuries and is a crucial part of the world we live in. It is important that we understand these sciences not only to maintain the world we live in, but to improve it.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

View the video

Grand Challenge: Cyberspace Security

As technology quickly advances and users store more and more of their personal information (such as social security numbers and banking information) on their computers, securing computers has become crucial. Get resources for this challenge below.

Cyberspace and Account Security

Project:

Build the foundation for effective Multi-Factor Authentication, which is a method used to control access to an online account by combining knowledge, possession and characteristic, to confirm the user’s identity.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

Worksheet

Worksheet Key

Teacher's Presentation

View the video

Cyberspace Security Shuffle

Project:

Understand the severity of viruses and how to take preventative measures to keep one’s personal information secure.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

Cyberspace Security Ping Pong Game Metaphor

Project:

Explore how cyber-attacks work and go through the process of identifying a problem, planning a solution and then testing and reflecting on it.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

View the video

Cyberspace Security Algorithms

Project:

Push for solutions to the threat of personal privacy and national security from cyberspace breaches.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

Teacher's Presentation

View the video

Cyberspace Security Making a Maze

Project:

Secure a network, which is a group of computers that share files for information using honeypots and firewalls.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

View the Video

Grand Challenge: Improving Air Quality

Getting a breath of fresh air isn't as easy as it used to be. We've loaded the atmosphere with all kinds of pollutants that have triggered a number of serious atmospheric ills. Reducing emissions that cause poor air quality, ozone depletion and climate change requires teamwork so that we can be part of the solution. Get resources for this challenge below.

Carbon Sequestration

Project:

Learn about a possible solution to global warming through carbon sequestration, which is the process of collecting carbon and storing it.

Resources

Teacher's Guide

View the video

Graphic: Homework Hotline, Turning 'Huh?' Into 'Aha!' 877-ASK-ROSE or askrose.org

Turning ‘Huh?’ Into ‘Aha!’

For 25 years, the Homework Hotline has been providing an academic lifeline to Indiana students in grades 6-12 with free math and science tutoring. Its tutors are Rose-Hulman students who can help your students understand STEM concepts through friendly, one-on-one tutoring sessions via phone or live chat.