This activity integrates children’s literature, engineering design, mathematics, and English language arts. The children’s book I wrote helps students learn more about engineering and biomedical engineering. Biomedical engineering is an interdisciplinary STEM field that combines biology and engineering to create solutions for medicine and healthcare. English language arts standards are incorporated through reading the children’s book and a class discussion about the book. After reading the book, students work on an engineering design challenge to design and build a prosthetic leg. Mathematics is incorporated through measurement.
After readings students the book, The Little Engineer That Could, the teacher then leads a class discussion using the following questions. Alternatively, these can be used as individual writing prompts. Describe Cadence and her feelings throughout the story. What was her motivation for helping Danny? How did her actions contribute to the sequence of events in the story. How did Cadence respond to challenges that arose?
To begin the design challenge students watch the following video about the Invictus Games. The Invictus Games is an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women. The Games strive to use the power of sports to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect of all those who serve their country.
After watching the video, students answer the following questions.
1. Why do you think the Invictus Games are held?
2. Do you know anyone who has been injured, sick, or hurt?
3. Why is important to help and encourage others?
4. Have you ever done something that was difficult? Why is it important to keep putting forth effort and to not give up?
Sergeant Danny Mendez is participating in the Invictus Games. He wants your team to develop a comfortable leg for walking around the games when he is not competing. As a first step you will design and build the leg for one person in your group to test your prototype.
Criteria and Constraints
There are three criteria for the design. 1) The leg should be comfortable. 2) The leg should be sturdy and stable. The person in your group must be able to walk 10 feet with the prosthetic leg. 3) The prosthetic leg should be aesthetically pleasing (look good).
Rubric for criteria 1)
1 point- leg is not comfortable and causes pain.
2 points- leg is mildly comfortable with little discomfort or pain.
3 points- leg is comfortable with little discomfort and no pain
Rubric for criteria 3)
1 point-leg is not aesthetically pleasing
2 points- leg is somewhat aesthetically pleasing
3 points- leg is aesthetically pleasing
The constraints are that you can only use the provided materials and that you have 60 minutes to design and build the prosthetic leg.
Your group will have scissors, measuring tape, and a ruler.
-pvc plastic pipe
-large rubber bands
-toliet plunger (unused)
Christian, author, and professor of mathematics education.