2023 Mass STEM Week: STEM Design Challenge

Wade Institute for Science Education

September 20th, 2023, 11:00 pm - September 30th, 2023, 10:59 pm CDT
Location: New Bedford, Massachusetts; virtual
Host: Wade Institute for Science Education

Engineering Design Challenge: Animal Adaptations and Bioengineering

Join the Wade Institute for Science Education and our collaborating partners, the Lloyd Center for the Environment and Buttonwood Park Zoo, for our 2023 STEM Challenge! “Engineering Design Challenge: Animal Adaptations and Bioengineering,” will engage students in grades 5-8 in a unique experience that integrates science and engineering concepts in a series of inquiry-based investigations that lead up to a student-driven Challenge. Students will be divided into small teams and presented with a scenario that asks them as a team of engineers to design a prosthetic device for an injured animal to help it survive. Teachers will choose from two scenarios – one for terrestrial wildlife and one for marine animals. 

Students will be given the following Challenge:

Your team of engineers specializes in creating prosthetics for injured animals. You have been hired by a local organization that provides this service and need to create a prototype for the injured animal.

Teachers will choose one of these two scenarios:

Terrestrial Wildlife: A Wildlife Biologist has discovered an (animal) in the local (habitat) that has a deformation that is affecting its ability to survive. The Biologist has asked your team of engineers to create a prosthetic to help (insert animal) survive in the wild. Your Challenge is to create a prototype of the prosthetic you will use to help (animal) survive. (Examples of deformations may include an eagle whose beak is damaged, an elephant with a deformed leg, an owl missing a wing, a mountain goat missing a hoof, or a squirrel with no tail.)

Marine Wildlife: A local Marine Biologist has discovered an (animal) that has a deformation that is affecting its ability to survive. The (animal) is currently at the local aquarium. The Biologist has asked your team of engineers to create a prosthetic to help (animal) survive in the wild so that it can be released back into the wild. Your Challenge is to create a prototype of the prosthetic you will use to help (animal) survive. (Examples of deformations may include a dolphin missing a tail, a sea turtle missing a flipper or with a broken shell, a duck with a damaged beak, or a penguin missing a foot.)

The Challenge includes:

  • Optional Pre-Challenge Professional Learning Workshops:

    • In-person Workshop: Saturday, September 30th, 2023 (9:00 AM – 3:00 PM ET), Buttonwood Park Zoo, New Bedford, MA

    • Virtual Workshop: Thursday, September 21st AND Thursday, September 28th, 2023 (3:00 PM – 6:00 PM ET)

  • The Curriculum Guide includes information and materials that will assist participants in designing and creating the prototype prosthetic.

  • A materials kit for implementing the challenge in your classroom (MA schools only).

  • A Student Work showcase 

Participation is FREE! Elementary and high schools are welcome to participate.

The Massachusetts STEM Week is sponsored by the Executive Office of Education and the MA STEM Advisory Council. Our STEM Design Challenge is funded by a grant from the MA STEM Advisory Council.

Learn more and register.