Oct. 2014 Jr. Chapter STEM Activity Origami Engineering
Some simple advice: Be prepared. Test-drive the activity beforehand. Have all the required materials on hand. Keep students on track. Keep an eye on the clock and follow the time frame. Be flexible and creative. Have fun!
Goal: Students work in teams to design and build a 1 ft x 3 ft model solar panel that folds into a small box without being damaged. After designing, they share their models. Engineering/STEM areas: Mechanical engineering, engineering design, properties of materials Learning objectives • Learn how folding technology applies to engineering • Learn about engineering design • Learn how art and phenomena in the natural world can serve as models for new technologies • Practice teamwork and problem solving
Time: 45-60 mins
Suggested group size: 3-4 Materials: • • • •
Student Resource Sheets (in lesson) Student Worksheets (in lesson) Aluminum foil (enough so each team has 1 ft x 3 ft) Boxes from aluminum foil with the metal tear bar removed (one box for each team. Other small boxes can be substituted.) • Materials to use for panels, such as cardboard, tape, rubber bands, popsicle sticks, plastic rods, straws, pipe cleaners, paper clips, glue, fabric, Velcro, paper, wood, and other easy-to-get items. • Ruler (one for each group)
Origami Engineering Before the activity: • Read through the student resources so you have the background information • Gather all the necessary materials. Put small objects such as paper clips in containers. If possible, have enough scissors, tape, etc. on hand so that each group can have their own. (use can save them an re-use for another activity) • Prepare the foil boxes by tearing off the metal cutter strip • Add a list of materials you’re making available to the appropriate box on the Student Worksheet. • Make enough copies of the Student Resource so that each student has one • Make one copy of the Student Worksheet per group, plus a few extras • Make your own example of a folding solar panel that fits into a small box. Be ready to explain some of the thinking you put into the design.
Origami Engineering What’s important about folding? An origami artist can take a flat sheet of paper and make it into a lion or a bird or a building by knowing how to fold it. Origami is really a type of engineering. With paper as the only material, origami makes use of folding to shape the flat paper into another object.
Folding may seem like a simple procedure, but it can be very powerful. Nature makes use of the power of folding in many ways. Buds hold folded forms of flowers inside them, a ladybug folds its wings under a protective shell when it’s not flying, and the function of the proteins in your body depends on how they’re folded.
Origami Engineering Engineers use folding for different purposes Folding increases surface area: • Cells lining small intestine (nature) • Parachute (engineers) Folding can make something fit into a smaller space: • Heart stents – expand in artery Heart stent (LA Weekly)
Folding can change the shape of an object: • Self-assembling robot – easy to transport as flat, then launch Folding nanoscale materials using origami principles is new focus of research funding for NSF.
Folding for deployment in space • Explain to students that they’ll be doing an activity that imitates the process NASA engineers have to go through.
The James Webb Space Telescope is so large is has to be folded to fit on a rocket. (NASA)
• Hubble Space Telescope had folded solar panels that unfolded into place after launch.
• The James Webb Space Telescope (or JWST), scheduled to launch in 2018, is so large that the whole telescope will need to be folded to fit on a rocket. • The sunshield on the telescope is the size of 18 tennis courts! • See an animation of the spacecraft unfold: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpVz3UrSsE4
Origami Engineering Activity procedure • Introduce the lesson by asking a few students to describe what they do to fit as much into a suitcase as they can when packing for a trip. • Point out that when clothes are folded or rolled, you can fit a lot more into a suitcase. • Distribute the student resource and go over the information in it with students. Make sure they have a sense of the following two concepts: • Engineers frequently use folding as a way to store or transport an object, and to give it functionality and greater surface area later. • Many of the inspirations for folding come from examples in nature.
Origami Engineering Activity procedure (cont’d) • Explain that students will design and build a folding solar panel that could be transported on a spacecraft. If you have internet access, you could show the video clip of the James Webb Space Telescope unfolding in space: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpVz3UrSsE4 • Group students in teams of 3-4. Give them about 20 minutes to come up with a design for their solar panels, including a list of materials. Circulate among them and be available for questions. • After 20 minutes, tell students to gather the materials they’ll need and begin assembling and testing their models. Remind students that professional engineers often go through many iterations of a design before they’ve gotten one they’re satisfied with, so the design students have now doesn’t need to be perfect. • After 15 minutes, give students a warning that they have 5 minutes left to complete their models
Post-activity Assessment: Show and Tell • Have student groups display and explain their solar panel models to the group • Ask them to explain the thinking behind their models, and to describe how they used folding to solve the problem • Tell them to describe an aspect of the model that they thing works well
• Tell them to describe an aspect of the model that they’d like to improve upon • Ask what aspects of other students’ models they would adopt, if applicable, and why
Origami Engineering Teaching tips • Take the reins on dividing the class into student groups (rather than letting students decide). If you know your students, try to be sure that each group has a balance of personalities, with a mix of outgoing and more introverted students. • Circulate around the classroom as students are working and be sure to keep them on track, answer questions, and encourage students who are less assertive. • Some groups will be ready to start creating right out of the starting gate. Others will feel stumped. Use the example solar panel you made as a starting point with groups having trouble, and give them hints about how to approach solving the problem.
Origami Engineering Teaching tips (cont.) • Ask them to explain the thinking behind their models, and to describe how they used folding to solve the problem • Some groups will readily discuss their models and others will be more reserved. Remind students that engineering design is a process involving many iterations, and that their model doesn’t need to be perfect. In fact, collaboration and gathering ideas from other groups is a good idea.
Takeaways: • Working in a team and collaboration: Students practice working on a team, hearing ideas of all team members, and considering ideas from other teams. • Engineering as a creative pursuit: Student practice solving a problem creatively given a set of constraints . • The influence of art and nature in engineering: Students consider how the ancient art of origami and examples in nature can inspire engineering design
Resources and bibliography: http://spark.ieee.org/2013-issue-1/folding-matters/ http://www.tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/folding-matters http://library.si.edu/sites/default/files/pdf/general_pages/FPPT_brochure.pdf http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2014/08/robot-folds-itself-up-and-walks-away http://www.prism-magazine.org/jan13/feature_01.cfm video of robot self assembling and walking away: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M1zNIVGrjM&feature=youtu.be Questions about the activity? Contact Robin Marks, Discovery Street Science [email protected]