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This activity is a short engineering design challenge to be completed by individual students or small teams. A real-world problem is presented, designing buildings for hurricane-prone areas, but in a simulated way that works in a classroom, after... (View More) school club, or informal education setting. Students are given simple materials and design requirements, and must plan and build a tower as tall as possible that will hold up a tennis ball while resisting the force of wind from a fan. After the towers are built, the group comes together to test them. If there is time after testing, which can be observational or framed as a contest between teams, students can redesign their towers to improve their performance, or simply discuss what worked well and what didn’t in their designs. (View Less)

Materials Cost: $1 - $5 per group of students

In this activity, students construct adding slide rules, scaled with linear calibrations like ordinary rulers. Students learn to move these scales relative to each other in ways that add and subtract distances, thus calculating sums and differences.... (View More) This is Activity A1 in the "Far Out Math" educator's guide. Lessons within the guide include activities in which students measure, compare quantities as orders of magnitude, use scientific notation, and develop an understanding of exponents and logarithms using examples from NASA's GLAST mission. These are skills needed to understand the very large and very small quantities characteristic of astronomical observations. Note: In 2008, the GLAST mission was renamed Fermi, for the physicist Enrico Fermi. (View Less)