Engineering Style Project

Engineering Style Design Project

Below is a suggested format for an Engineering Style Design Project.  A complete project should have the following components:
  • Title / Problem to Solve 
    • What problem are you trying solve or improve upon?
  • Background Research
    • What, if anything, has already been tried?
  • Design Requirements 
    • What size should this be? 
    • What materials should it be made from? 
    • What is it your design should actually do?
  • Brainstorm potential ideas.  Choose one.
    • Come up with several possible solutions.
    • Choose your best one to try to build.
  • Design on paper 
    • Draw and label your best design.  
    • Explain what size it is.
    • Label any special features.
  • Build a prototype (or a model, if it is too large) 
    •  A model is an acceptible way to show what your idea would look like.
  • TEST your great idea!
    • Write what you did and how it worked out.
  • Describe "next steps" and "improvements". 
    • How did things turn out?  
    • Why do you think it worked that way?  
    • What would you change to make it better if you had a second version?
    • What would the "perfect" version be able to do if you had lots of money and time to work on it?
  • Help 
    • What help did you get in doing your project?  
  • Lab Notebook 
    • This goes on the table in front - it can be a little "dollar store" notebook, notes you kept on your computer and printed, binder paper stapled together... just show your collection of: ideas, brainstorming, planning, research, observations, plans for your display board, etc.  THIS IS YOUR ROUGH DRAFT AND RECORD OF EVERYTHING.
  • ...and remember to put your name on all your hard work!!!!
Here's a SAMPLE of this format:

Design for a Compost Bin for School

Background Research:  

Composting means to collect materials that can rot and decompose into a nutrient-rich kind of "pre-dirt".  

Some other schools have a place where students can collect materials, such as leftover food, grass from mowing the soccer fields, and plant trimmings.  This is then put into a composting bin and is allowed to decompose.  Then this is used in the school gardens and around school plants as a fertilizer source. 

We already know that plants decompose in nature.  We already know that decomposers, like earthworms, fungi, and bacteria work to break down, or decompose, dead plants and animals.  We also found out that this works best if the pile of stuff is kept together so it stays warmer.

Design Requirements

Our composting bin needs to be about the size of a small dumpster in size.  This is about 8 feet long, 4 feet high, and 4 feet wide.  It needs to have some ventilation.  It needs to have a way to open it up from the side so we don't have to climb inside of it to empty it out.  It needs to be close to the cafeteria and easy to get to from the fields so that both leftover food and grass cuttings and plant stuff can go into it.  We want to build it out of wood, since that is the easiest for us to get.

Brainstorm Ideas:
 - Build it out of used pallets.  No floor.  
 - Build it out of used wood. Use different sizes of boards so there will be spaces in the sides for air. Put wheels under it so it can move around.
 - Buy plywood and make sides.  Drill holes in the sides and bottom for ventilation.  Use bolts so we can take it apart later.
- Build it out of a rubber garbage can.  Drill holes in the sides for air.  

We decided our best idea was to use old pallets.  They are free, they already have spaces, and we can take it apart to move it around pretty easily.  We could just take off one side pallet to get into it to clean it out and move the compost to the garden.


This uses 7 pallets, 10 boards 1" x 10" cut 4 feet long, and a box of screws.  There is no bottom.  There is no top.  The boards in front can be removed to clean out the compost sections.  Stuff can be added from the top.

 (Because it is still early spring, we are only building a model of how we want it to turn out.)

We made a small model version and tried it in the classroom.  We found out that two weeks in the classroom isn't enough time to let things decompose.  We found out our bin was too small to add very much into it, so we only had half an apple, some newspaper, and some dirt.  We found out that worms can escape out of small holes, so this isn't a very good design for inside the classroom. 

Next Steps and Redesign:
If we could do a real version, we'd go get some real pallets and build a big one.  We would use more kinds of things in our compost.  We would let it sit a lot longer.  We would use a lot more earthworms and check it more often.  We would also find a good sunny spot for it outside.

  • The idea came from STEMscopes.
  • Mrs. Scheibner helped us get the materials.
  • We found some things on the internet, like our design idea (on a google image search) and from 
LAB NOTEBOOK: Keep a notebook of all your work - your ideas, your plans, your data, your “scratch copy” of what you want to say on your board, etc.  This can be any of the following:
  • A wee little “dollar store” notebook
  • Stuff you saved in a file on your computer and printed and stapled
  • Your notes on binder papers and stapled
  • A spiral notebook
  • Any other way you can think of to document your work on this project.
Project by:   (add your name or names)

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