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Category: SMILE Challenges

Update: Final ME Video  April 1st, 2015

The ME Team has finished their project! Their final project is amazing! Check out how it works in this video below:



High School Challenge Surveys  February 18th, 2015

High School SMILE teachers, we need your help!  In preparation for the April High School Challenge event, we have a survey about bioenergy in your communities.  We would like this survey to be filled out by you and your students and returned before Spring Break.  The survey and additional documentation can be found below.  You can return surveys by emailing Renee O’Neill ( the data in the excel sheet, sending the hard copy originals via standard mail, or scanning in your surveys and emailing them as PDFs.  Whatever format you choose is fine, as long as we can see the data and are able interpret the results for the SMILE High School Challenge.  Please also send a copy of the complete survey your students use to help us interpret the data.

There is a section in the lesson plan on manipulating and interpreting data but please note that this is optional for you and your students to complete.  We will be compiling and interpreting data in preparation for the HSC event.
Thank you so much for your help and we look forward to seeing you all here in April!

2012-2013 Mechanical Engineering Project  October 17th, 2014

Follow the links below to learn a little more about the ME team from 2012-2013, the engineering process, and the Rube Goldberg machine they worked on:


ME Team Weekly Rube Goldberg Construction Videos

During the construction process, the ME team shared one video per week of their progress. The ME students also looked at individual steps in the engineering process and provided some strategies for students creating their own Rube Goldberg machines.

Here the team gives an overview of their machine. At this point the students have not built anything.  They have used special computer modeling software, similar to Trimble (formally Google) sketch up, called solid works.  Modeling the project allows the students to see how all the pieces of the engineering project will fit together and helps them to predict any problems they may have during when they build the project.

Engineering involves the use of potentially dangerous machines and materials.  In this video the team goes over some common safety equipment and rules so you can be safe during the engineering and construction of your Rube Goldberg machine.  After the safety talk there is a build update.

How do you take an idea floating around in your head and actually build a prototype or your first working model?  This week the team shares some strategies around how to do just that as well as sharing ways they are using the same strategies in their project.

Studying?! I thought we were working on an engineering project!  Well we are, but as the team explains studying is important when doing research for an engineering project and these strategies can help you in all your classes in middle school and beyond.

Ethics is an often overlooked, but very important, part of engineering.  This week the ME students will give you a crash course in some of the basics of engineering ethics and explain why it is such a vital part of engineering.

There are many types of engineering you can specialize in, such as biomolecular, materials, process, environmental, geotechnical, structural, transport, computer, electrical, aerospace, acoustical, manufacturing, thermal, vehicle, industrial, agricultural, applied, biological, building services, construction management, energy, mechatronics, nano, nuclear, petroleum engineering just to name a few.  Each one of these engineering specialties has its own specific area of study.  We happen to be working with Mechanical Engineers and this week the team wants to share a little more about what specifically mechanical engineers study.  Also this week there is an update where you actually get to see their Rube Goldberg machine in action!

During your Rube Goldberg project you are likely going to find one step in your machine that doesn’t quite work right.  This is where troubleshooting becomes very important.  Here the ME team will explain some strategies to help you troubleshoot all your problems into solutions.  What is that large contraption behind the students?!

This week the ME team interviews a bunch of their engineering classmates and asks them all about why they went into the field of engineering.  While this is a long video it is really interesting to hear all the different motivations students have for becoming engineers.  Ever wonder what an engineer’s favorite superhero is? This video will give you the answer.

What can you do as an engineer? Pretty much anything you want.  This week the ME team shares a series of videos outlining some really cool engineering projects.  From a military robot call “Big Dog” to an OSU student built Mars Rover rolling over the OSU football team. Enjoy!

This is it, the ME team is finished!  This is an overview of the project with pictures of the Rube Goldberg Machine in action.  Look for this machine to visit a challenge near you.  The ME team signs off and celebrates graduating as official engineers!

Reminder: Cable Car Challenge 2014  April 8th, 2014

Teachers, the Middle School Challenge is just around the corner!  Last term we learned some important lessons from our Mechanical Engineering Team that has hopefully helped your students construct a cable car.  We hope that you pass these lessons along to your students so that we can have a successful Middle School Challenge.  Here is a list of what you need to do before the challenge.

1) Make sure your students check out the videos we have been posting and do some research on cable car designs.

2) Make sure they have read and understand the requirements for the cable car.  Feel free to post any questions.

3) Have your students make at least one club cable car to share at the Middle School Challenge.  This car will need to be completed before the challenge as we will be doing a LEGO based industrial and manufacturing engineering challenge.

4) Come to the Middle School Challenge ready share and test your cable car! We look forward to seeing you at Eastern Oregon University on April 26th, or Portland Community College on May 3rd, or Southern Oregon University on May 10th.

Again if you have any questions please post them in the comments or contact us directly through email.

table-mountain-cable-car cable carBa Na cable car route sets four world records

Oregon State University’s Formula SAE Team  March 20th, 2014

Our engineering team got a chance to peak into the auto shop of Oregon State University’s Formula SAE Racing Team.  The team won a national championship back in 2010 and is trying to do so again this year.  Never heard of Formula SAE racing? In this trailer of the short film Relentless the OSU team shows part of the process in preparing for this race.  Be sure to check out Youtube to see all of Relentless.

When our engineering team stepped inside the shop of this year’s Formula SAE team, they got to have a sneak peak of how a part is designed and engineered. This end cap is an important engine part that will help the formula car go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds. Check it out:

Engineering Team: Completed Project  March 20th, 2014

The team has finished! In this video they show off their cable car along with the extra activity walls needed to check off their requirements (which are different than yours). Their project also easily comes apart so it can travel and makes its way to you guys!

The team says their final good-byes and recaps on what worked well in their project.  The guys said teamwork is what really made their project run smoothly so make sure to watch the teamwork video if you have not done so already. We cannot wait to show you their finished project during the Middle School Challenge!

Engineering Team: Cable Car Videos  March 20th, 2014

The engineering team introduces some videos that may be useful to your cable car project.  The videos shows the assembly and disassembly of ski lifts, which are very much like cable cars but not identical.  What are the differences you see? How can this be applied to your project? Let us know in the comments section below!

Video 1: Chairlift Assembly

Video 2: Chairlift Tower Disassembly

Video 3: Peak to Peak Cable Installation

Engineering Team: Code of Ethics  March 20th, 2014

This week Alex talks to us about the engineering code of ethics. Webster’s Dictionary defines ethics as: “rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad”.  This can play a role when you engineer a product that is for the masses, such as your cable car.  These practices are good to keep in mind when you incorporate safety into your cable car. Take a listen to the engineering code of ethics!