Welcome to TAME Engineering Adventures! Our goal is to help you challenge your students with hands-on learning.
Channel challenge! This Engineering Adventure is to design and build a channel to transport fluids (represented by BBs) across the landscape. We're offering a classroom adaptation of the Engineering Design Challenge for the 2019 Divisional STEM Competitions, hosted at 14 different chapters around Texas. This year's challenge was developed by engineers from ConocoPhillips.
Photo of Team 15, "Chanel Channel," Engineering Design Challenge Judges' Choice winners from the 2019 Dallas Divisional STEM Competition.
Photo of students discussing ideas during the Engineering Design Challenge at the 2019 San Antonio Divisional STEM Competition.
At ConocoPhillips (COP), STEM professionals design, build and maintain channels to transport fluids (water, oil and gas) across varied, rugged landscapes.
The COP team designs the channels so that the maximum amount of fluids are moved from one location to the other while keeping construction and maintenance costs low. The COP team also works together to make sure that the project is completed on time and makes careful use of the areas that are approved for this work. The team tries to reduce environmental impact by not having any spills during channel construction or transportation of fluids.
Design a channel to transport fluids (represented by BBs) across the landscape placed at your work station. The fluids (BBs) must move because of gravity (flow from higher to lower levels) and will need to move from the entry zone to the collection zone within 30 seconds. You have 60 minutes to design and build a covered channel to transport the fluid.
Your team will present your design concept and explain why you chose your materials and route. You will explain the strategy you used in moving the fluid (BBs) across the landscape. Teams will earn points for the amount of fluid that is delivered in 30 seconds. Points will be awarded based on the amount of fluid delivered to the collection circle and points will be taken away for fluid spilled out of the channel.
Do not underestimate the weight of the “fluid.” You have been given 10 BBs to test with. During the design process, judges will come to each team and show you the maximum amount of BBs that must be moved through your channel during judging. The weight of the fluid is significant and should be considered during your design process.
The PowerPoint presentation and Student Team Instructions (see downloads) were used at the 2019 Divisional STEM Competitions, and they will lead you through the Design Challenge from concept to scoring. You can decide whether you want to follow the guidelines to the letter, or simplify for your classroom.
Primary objectives: Work together to build a closed channel to transport fluids, while making trade-offs to balance between cost, quality, and time.
Suggested time: 60 minutes
Scoring Summary: Get points by: returning unused materials; amount of fluid transported; complete documentation; creative design and teamwork. Lose points by: poor use of materials; spilling fluid (BBs); not paying attention to costs on landscape; incomplete documentation; not working together.
See PowerPoint under downloads for scoring sheet and additional scoring categories.
Suggested materials: Club Sponsors, feel free to simplify by using materials on hand. In many cases the competitors did not use all the materials, so it is likely you can run this competition with what you have in your classroom.
Materials per team:
RAW MATERIALS, MAY BE ALTERED:
|1 sheet chip board|
|1 sheet card stock|
|6 craft sticks|
|4 paper clips|
|1 gallon baggie|
|4 pipe cleaners|
|1 paper cone|
OTHER RESOURCES, MAY NOT BE ALTERED OR USED IN PROTOTYPE:
|1 pair of scissors|
|2 sharpened pencils|
|Design challenge instructions|
|Team number sign|
|Small baggie (used for collection)|
|1 plastic cup (to measure and pour BBs)|
**Black Diamond BBs proved to be the best at mimicking fluid dynamics because they are coated to reduce friction. Uncoated BBs are functional but tended to get stuck in the channel more often. TAME tested several brands and settled on Hornady brand Black Diamond Anodized .177 Steel BBs.
JUDGING MATERIALS, MAY NOT BE ALTERED OR USED IN PROTOTYPE:
Magnetic sweeper (TAME used this brand from Lowe's.)
Photo of students mid-discussion during the Engineering Design Challenge at the 2019 Gulf Coast Divisional STEM Competition.
Team member roles:
PROJECT ENGINEER - AVERAGE SALARY: $76,000
A project engineer’s responsibilities include schedule preparation, planning and resource forecasting for engineering and other technical activities related to the project. They may also be in charge of performance management of vendors.
CIVIL ENGINEER - AVERAGE SALARY: $73,000
Civil engineers imagine, design, build, supervise, operate, construct, and maintain infrastructure projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.
CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER - AVERAGE SALARY: $80,000
Construction engineering deals with the designing, planning, construction, and management of infrastructures such as roads, tunnels, bridges, airports, railroads, facilities, buildings, dams, utilities and other projects.
ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER - AVERAGE SALARY: $78,000
Environmental engineering deals with the protection of human populations from the effects of adverse environmental factors. It also includes the protection of environments, both local and global, from potentially dangerous effects of natural and human activities.
ECONOMIST - AVERAGE SALARY: $76,000
Economists typically research and analyze economic issues, conduct surveys and collect and analyze data using mathematical models and statistical techniques.
OPERATIONS ENGINEER - AVERAGE SALARY: $73,000
Operations engineers make sure a company's operations, such as manufacturing and shipping, work properly and meet factory and management specifications. These engineers handle any repairs or upgrades to the machinery and coordinate with other department heads to fine-tune their operations systems.
Photo of students using straws to build a channel during the Engineering Design Challenge at the 2019 San Antonio Divisional STEM Competition.
Photo of students using straws to build a channel during the Engineering Design Challenge at the 2019 Gulf Coast Divisional STEM Competition.
Photo of students during the Engineering Design Challenge at the 2019 Corpus Christi Divisional STEM Competition.
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