EDD Unit 3: Materials & Machines

Investigate materials and machines used in engineering


Engineers rely heavily on materials for their various properties so they can create machines that accomplish various tasks.  In this unit, we’ll investigate the properties of a range of materials that we use in the lab and consider what applications they might be best suited for.  As you do this, you will be expected to:

  • Take some brief notes on a few videos of materials and machines
  • Conduct a range of activities to test the properties of some of our materials
  • Describe the function of some of our complex machines

In addition to our engineering work, we’ll also do some work related to college and the future.  While you’re budgeting time for your materials research and machine investigation, you also need to do two college tasks.

  • College Task 1: Write College Essay #1
  • College Task 2: Write College Essay #2  

When you’re done you will have conducted some materials research, investigated various machines, and written a few college scholarship essays!


(40 pts) About 4 days

In this unit, you’ll watch a variety of short videos about cool new materials.  We’ll start with materials and we’ll study the properties of metals, 3D plastics, wood, extruded plastics, adhesives, composites, and foam.


(20 pts) About 3 days

Next, we’ll look at some cool videos about different machines and how they work.  Then we’ll discuss how the 6 simple machines are used in machines all throughout our lab.  You’ll pick a machine in our lab and study how it works.


(10 pts) About 3 days

Complete an application for the Presidential Scholars Award for CTE & Engineering.  The school will nominate up to 2 seniors from our class for this recognition at the state and national level, and here you should take some time to complete an essay and collecting application materials


Official materials research

Materials Research

In this unit, you’ll get to learn more about various materials.  We’ll start by watching a few videos about some weird new materials that engineers have developed.  You’ll also work with your E-Group to brainstorm possible uses of those new materials.

Now, you’ll work with your E-Group to conduct some materials research.  We have the options of testing metals, woods, extruded plastics, 3D filaments, composites, adhesives, or foams.  You’ll make a plan for which materials you want to test and how you want to test them.  Then, you’ll put your plan into action as you test the materials and collect data on their properties.


Take notes on the four materials videos

 Plan materials research

 Have Mr. Benshoof approve your research plan

 Conduct your materials research

 Take notes on your research and summarize

 Have Mr. Benshoof check-off your completed research


Never Wet

Spray On Fabric

Smart Magnets

What’s Due In Materials

  • Materials Notes
  • Prototyping
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Approval
  • Materials Research
  • Research Notes
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Check-off

Here’s what’s due in Materials

  1.  Take notes on materials videos
  2. .Plan materials research
  3.  Have Mr. Benshoof approve your research plan
  4.  Conduct your materials research
  5.  Take research notes and summarize
  6.  Have Mr. Benshoof check-off your research


Robots in disguise

Machine Research

In this part, we’ll think about various complex machines. First, you’ll review the 6 simple machines that you might have seen in POE.  Then we’ll watch some videos and take notes on some cool complex machines in action.  You’ll then choose one of the many complex machines we have in the lab and investigate how various simple machines come together to make it work.


Take brief notes on the 6 simple machines

 Take notes on the four complex machines videos

 Choose one of the big machines in the lab and draw a careful diagram

 Identify and label all the simple machines that work together to make the machine you’re investigating

 Have Mr. Benshoof check-off your completed diagram

Tree Mover


Festo Butterflies

Festo Ants

Concrete Printing

What’s Due In Machines

  • Machine Notes
  • Draw & Label Diagram
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Check-off

Here’s what’s due in Machines

  1. Take notes on simple machines & complex machine videos
  2. Choose a machine in the lab and draw a careful diagram
  3. Identify simple machines in your diagram
  4. Have Mr. Benshoof check-off your diagram

College Tasks

Apply for the Presidential Scholars Award nomination

College Essays

Each year, Lathrop Engineering is able to nominate a few students for the Presidential Scholars Award for CTE & Engineering.  This school, state, and national recognition is for students that demonstrate excellence in the field of engineering and a devotion to their academics.  In this part of our unit you’ll complete an application for this recognition by putting together the needed documents.  

You’ll also need to write one 2-page essay that describes your engineering experience, your overall academic abilities, your leadership, and your creativity.  This is a very open-ended personal essay, but should focus on your accomplishments as a student and citizen while in high school.  


Compile application documents

 Write 2-page Personal Essay

 Have Mr. Benshoof edit your essay!

What’s Due In College Tasks

  • Application Elements
  • Personal Essay
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Check-off

Here’s what’s due in College Tasks

  1.  Compile application documents
  2.  Write 2-page Personal Essay
  3. Have Mr. Benshoof edit your essay!

Double Check: Unit Expectations

Check what you need to have completed by the unit deadline

The purpose of this unit is to give you some things to consider about materials and machines.  Materials all have specific properties, and successful engineering projects depend on finding a material with the right properties.  Complex machines are combinations of simple machines, and as you work on larger projects you’ll need to use different types of machines to solve problems.  You should have a new perspective on those ideas and I hope you’re starting to think about what you might want to study next semester!

We also now have the next two scholarship essays complete.  Incorporate feedback from Mr. Benshoof’s edits, and consider having an English teacher or another friend edit it further!  Saving all of your scholarship essays to your jump drive will keep them in a safe place for later when we need to use them.

Engineering Notebook:

(Materials) You should have taken notes on the different materials videos

(Materials) You should have made a plan for materials research and taken notes on your results

(Machines) You should have taken notes on simple and complex machines

(Machines) You should have drawn a careful diagram of a machine in the lab and labeled its simple machine components

Building & Making:

(Materials) You should have conducted experiments on a group of materials

(Machines) You should have chosen a machine in the lab and drawn a careful diagram

 (College Tasks) You should have compiled all the necessary documents for the Presidential Scholars application

 (College Tasks) You should have written your 2-page Personal Essay for the Presidential Scholars application

Checkpoints & Quizzes:

(Materials) Have Mr. Benshoof approve your research plan and completed research

(Machines) Have Mr. Benshoof check-off your completed diagram

 (College Tasks) Have Mr. Benshoof edit your essay