Engineering, Play, and Design

Your lesson will take place in the Field of Play exhibit. Discover the power of play in human learning and development at a multimedia theater presentation. Then unleash your playful energies: walk through a giant kaleidoscope and create and view your own kaleidoscope patterns, use pulleys to power balls through a gigantic overhead ball machine, “drive” a drag racer, try to maintain your equilibrium in the slanted room, enjoy the exaggerated perspective room, climb a rock wall, and so much more.

Lesson extensions for before or after your visit

The following activities are designed for your class to enjoy before or after your museum visit. Familiarizing students with the lesson concepts can enrich your museum experience.

When form meets function

At the museum, students will explore engineering and design through play. The focus of their experience will be on designing a form that has a function.

Try one or both of the following activities before your museum visit:

  1. Brainstorm a list of everyday activities that students do in the classroom. For example: sharpen pencils, read books, open doors, hand in papers.

    Have students select one activity from the list and work in groups to design something that would make this task easier, or just more fun.

    Design teams should plan their ideas carefully, make a list of materials, and draw diagrams to illustrate their ideas.

    Encourage students to collect materials to create a three-dimensional model or a prototype of their design.
  2. Paper Bridges: students build the longest non-supported single-span bridge possible using one sheet of 8.5" x 11" paper. Divide students into teams of three and give each team the following materials:
    • one sheet of paper, 8.5" x 11"
    • 12" masking tape
    • a pair of scissors
    • a pencil

    Encourage teams to discuss the challenge and sketch three or four possible solutions for their bridge before choosing one solution to try.

Give students an opportunity to show and discuss their design solutions with the whole class.

When you return to school:

Students will return to school with a design idea inspired by the Field of Play exhibit. Give them an opportunity to discuss their ideas and to explain how form follows function in their design. Students may brainstorm and collect materials to create 3-D models of their ideas for a display entitled “Form Follows Function.”

For other ideas visit: