What outreach experiments/activities are available for SWE-MN members to use?

SWE-MN owns many hands-on experiments that are available to the SWE-MN members to use for outreach events.  This list is always changing, as SWE-MN purchases new experiments frequently.  Contact the Outreach co-chairs at outreach@swe-mn.org to obtain the most up to date list of experiments and to request to borrow a specific experiment. 

A detailed list of the experiments follows:

  • Building Structures
    Objective: Groups of students will build toothpick-and-marshmallow models of structures, including cubes, pyramids, and tetrahedrons, and determine which shape/structure is the strongest and why.
  • Circuit Butterflies
    Objective: Learn how circuits work by building a closed circuit "bug" and watching the bug's eyes light up.
  • Egg Mobile
    Objective: Each design team's goal is to build a vehicle, the EggMobile, using LEGOs and other supplies to safely transport a raw egg. Each team is given a budget to buy parts (LEGOs, etc.) to build the EggMobile and to pay fines resulting from the failure of their design to meet specific design requirements as well as product liability lawsuits.
    Tally sheet
    Speaker Hints
  • Hoop Gliders
    Target Age Group: 8 years +
    15 minutes
    If you throw a plain straw, it doesn't go very far. But when you add paper hoops, the straw glides through the air. That's because the hoops act like wings. Things that fly - like insects, birds, and airplanes - all have wings. But wings are not all the same shape and size. Different wings can be better for different kinds of flight. For example, an eagle has long, wide wings that help it glide. An airplane has wings with small flaps that move up and down to turn the plane. Try changing the wings on your glider. How does it fly with different wings?
  • Shopping Mall
    Target Age Group: 9 years +
    50 minutes
    After completing the Lego® Shopping Mall activity, the student will understand the basic concepts behind the process of designing construction projects.  This includes the basics of specifications, construction plans, and how to construct a building based on these two documents.  The student will be able to experiment with dimensions, scale, and the aesthetics of the building.  The activity also focuses on the concepts of measurement and scale, as well as clear and concise communication of their ideas to others (through specifications and drawings).  The students will be working in teams, which will allow for advancement of teamwork skills.
  • Spool Racer
    Target Age Group: 1st - 8th grade
    10 minutes
    In this experiment, students will be able to learn and understand the concepts of potential and kinetic energy.  By building their own spool racer, the students will get to see and feel the potential energy being built up as the rubber band gets wound.  When they release their racer and see the spool go, they will see how the potential energy is turned into kinetic energy.
  • Oil Spill
    Target Age Group:
  • Pinwheels
    Target Age Group: 8 years +
    15 minutes
    Learn about considerations for constructing a successful wind farm, such as local conditions and turbine placement, and then design an efficient and environmentally-friendly facility.
  • Homemade Ice Cream Experiment
    Target Age Group: Preschool - 3rd grade
    Time: 20 minutes
    Overview: The mixture of ice cream ingredients are added to a plastic bag. Ice and salt are added to a surrounding enclosure in order to produce the chemical reaction needed to freeze the ice cream. This is a great elementary chemical kit for beginning chemical engineering principles, and the ice cream is fun to eat!
  • Silly Putty/ Slime
    Target Age Group: Preschool - 4th grade
    Time: 15 minutes
    Overview: Mixing Elmer's Glue with borax, food coloring, and water produces a putty-like material called a polymer. Borax is the chemical that is responsible for hooking the glue's molecules together to form the putty-like material. This is a wonderful elementary chemical kit for introducing basic chemical engineering principles.
  • Chocolate Asphalt Cookies
    Target Age Group: Kindergarten - 5th grade
    Time: 30-35 minutes
    Overview: Chocolate no-bake cookies produced to learn how asphalt is made and used in paving roads. Like the asphalt, the chocolate you use in this recipe becomes a liquid when heated. As you mix other tasty ingredients into your "chocolate asphalt", you'll observe the cookies harden and become stronger as they cool. This kit represents a elementary/middle school level civil engineering experiment.
  • Automotive Engineering Design Competition
    Target Age Group: 4th - 9th grades (or higher, depending on complexity)
    Time: 60 minutes +
    Overview: This team oriented design activity focusing on automotive crash safety engineering and project management. Students build a vehicle using Legos and other supplies to transport a raw egg. Design, budgeting, and testing requirements are used to teach engineering principles. This is a great systems or project engineering kit that can vary in complexity.
  • Electrical Engineering Circuits
    Target Age Group: 5th grade and higher
    Time: 30 minutes
    Overview: This project is a simple electrical circuit building activity, and taught in order to explain basic circuit concepts using a battery, light bulb, and wire. This is our basic electrical engineering experiment.
  • Simple Machine Gears with Legos
    Target Age Group: 1st - 6th grades
    Time: 20-50 minutes, depending on complexity
    Overview: Learn how gears and gear ratios are used to drive systems using Legos. Build gear driven systems and discuss how different teeth, gear ratios, and other design considerations are used in building mechanical equipment.
  • Ground Water Model Display
    Target Age Group: 1st grade and higher
    Time: 20 minutes
    Overview: Displays the hydraulic cycle through an aquifer model to show how groundwater is connected to the surrounding environment and how pollution can affect it. This interactive environmental engineering display works as a great way to explain water movement and pollution effects.
  • What Makes a Bicycle?
    Target Age Group: 4th - 7th grades
    Time: 60 minutes +
    Overview: Developed by the SWE-MN section to teach mechanical simple machine concepts using a bicycle. Integrates interactive learning through coloring to explain the design concepts such as gravity, friction, selection of materials, levers, and gears. Activity includes the bicycle book and coloring pencils.
  • Fuel Cell Car Experiment
    Target Age Group: 9th grade and higher
    Time: Depends on which experiment, ~2 hours.
    Overview: Follow instructions to make a mechanical fuel cell car drive through fuel cell process with the aid of solar panels and water. Experiment involves chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering principles. Very interactive and a lot of fun to learn what a fuel cell is and how it works to produce energy.
  • Lip Gloss
    Target Age Group: Preschool - 4th grade
    Time: 15 minutes
    Overview: Make lip gloss from common kitchen ingredients.

SWE National Agilent Take Home Experiment Kits

The Agilent AfterSchool Program is a hands-on science experiment series targeting children in the 9 – 14 year age group. Below is a list of Agilent experiments SWE-MN currently has in stock.

  • Steady Hand Game: In this session, students explore the fundamentals of electricity. They build an electrical circuit that includes an energy source, resistance, a light and a switch. The completed assembly is also a steady hand game that students will have fun playing and demonstrating to family and friends.
  • Night & Day: Students create their own model of the earth, spinning on its axis and changing its seasonal position relative to the sun. They will observe the cause and effect relationship that these movements have on our days and nights, our years, and our lives.
  • Pieces of Earth (2-part kit) - This project provides for two separate sessions. In the sessions, students will explore pieces of earth and find 12 important rocks and minerals. They will observe and analyze properties of minerals and develop an understanding of the rock cycle.
  • The Oil Spill - In the Oil Spill unit students will create their own model of an ocean, river, or lake and allow an oil spill to occur. They will investigate many different materials and attempt to contain and clean up the spill. In the end they will have first hand thoughts about oil and the environment and end the unit with a look at less risky sources for their next unit…solar energy.