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MAKER: Trash Sliders - Building Vehicles from Junk

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Make It!

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Larry G. Richards University of Virginia

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Larry G Richards is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia. He leads the Virginia Middle School Engineering Education Initiative, and is active in K 12 outreach and professional development activities locally and nationally. Larry’s research interests include creativity, entrepreneurship, engineering design, innovation, and K-12 engineering education. He is a founding member of the K-12 Division and is a Fellow of ASEE.

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The Trash Sliders Engineering Teaching Kit (ETK) introduces middle and high school students to the fundamentals of engineering design, the basic physics of forces and motions, and the design of suspension systems. Several days of lessons culminate in a final design challenge in which student teams design and build a vehicle capable of transporting liquid over rough terrain. The vehicles must carry a 2L bottle with a rectangular opening cut in the top. The bottle is filled with 500mL of water. The goal is to complete the obstacle course with as little spillage as possible. All materials provided for construction of these vehicles are items normally considered trash, in order to emphasize the concept of reuse in promoting sustainability. This ETK has been successfully used in middle school science classes and summer programs for high school students.

Trash Sliders is the latest in a series of Engineering Teaching Kits (ETKs) developed by students and faculty at the University of (…..). ETKs emphasize the engineering design approach to problem solving. Topics are identified from science, math, and technology that have interesting engineering applications, and then lessons are constructed to help students learn science and math concepts in the context of engineering design. Over the years, we have developed several ETKs for vehicle design; RaPower for solar cars, Crash and Burn, … But this project has two unique features: the vehicle must be constructed entirely from trash, and it must involve a suspension system.

The variation in designs is incredible – the creativity of the students produced designs we never imaged. We will display examples of student work, and provide materials for those who wish to make their own Trash Slider.

Richards, L. G. (2016, June), MAKER: Trash Sliders - Building Vehicles from Junk Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26209

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