EDD Unit 4: Exploration

Use the engineering design process to build a prototype using a new tool!


Great engineers need to be able to learn new skills.  Learning new things follows a process similar to the engineering design process, and certainly supports engineering work.  In this unit you’ll learn a relatively new machine or process that is available in our lab.  You’ll then use this new process to solve a creative problem.  As you do this, you will be expected to:

  • Select a machine you’d like to work with and choose a project you’d like to build
  • Learn how to use the machine you’ve selected
  • Follow the engineering design process to create a prototype
  • Get some feedback on your product

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 game creation, 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’ll have learned a new machine, built something cool, and written a few college scholarship essays!


(40 pts) About 3 days

Here, you’ll get to identify a machine in our lab that you are not very familiar with.  Maybe you’ve never done any 3D printing.  Maybe you’ve never worked with the CNC router or the laser.  Maybe you’ve never done any electronics with Arduinos.  Pick something new and start learning!


(60 pts) About 5 days

Use the engineering design process to build something cool with that new machine or process.  Follow the Engineering Design Process and document your work as you create your prototype.


(20 pts) About 3 days

While all that’s going on, you need to budget time to complete two tasks. Here you’ll write two essays that will be used in scholarship applications later.  By writing them now we have time to edit, and will have things ready to go when the deadline arrives.


Learn a new tool and use it for some prototyping

The Engineering Design Process

In this unit you’ll get to learn a new machine or process.  Start by looking through the list of possible options and finding something you know you haven’t used much (or ever), and that you think would be fun to learn about.  Then, watch the Workshop Video about that machine and take some detailed notes.  Do some more research on it by checking Google and YouTube for more information on those machines.

Next, start the engineering design process.  Pick something you want to try and build, then create a design brief.  Then research and brainstorm different ways it can be made or different options you have for your creation.  Decide what you want to build and make a careful sketch including labels, dimensions, and materials.  Finally, build your prototype using the machine!

Finally, you’ll share your work with the other EDD students.  You’ll take some time to share your work with each other and give constructive feedback.  Make sure the entire process is recorded in your engineering notebook as always!


Learn about your new machine & take detailed notes

Plan what you want to build

Have Mr. Benshoof approve your idea

 Build your prototype!

 Give and receive feedback on your prototype

 Have Mr. Benshoof’s check-off your completed prototype

Exploration Overview

Machine Options

Learning a New Machine

What’s Due In Exploration

  • New Machine Notes
  • Design Process Notes
  • Mr. Benshoof’s approval
  • Prototype
  • Feedback
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Check-off

Here’s what’s due in Exploration

  1. Notes on your new machine
  2. Process notes as you design and plan
  3. Have Mr. Benshoof approve your idea
  4. Build your prototype!
  5.  Feedback on your prototype
  6.  Mr. Benshoof’s check-off of your final prototype

College Tasks

Prepare for college admissions & scholarships

College Essays

In addition to your work exploring a new machine, you also need to write two essays.  These essays connect very specifically to some of the scholarships that we’ll apply to as a class in January and February.  By getting them written now we will have time to edit them, and you can consider using them in other applications for schools or scholarships.

Scholarship Essay 1: Problems in Fairbanks –   Complete a 1,000 word essay addressing the following:  What do you consider the largest social problem plaguing Fairbanks today, and list 3-5 possible solutions for it.  How could you be part of one solution?

Scholarship Essay 2: Engineering Interest   Complete a 500 word essay on the subject: “Describe your interest in an engineering education/career”


 Write Scholarship Essay 1: Problems in Fairbanks

 Write Scholarship Essay 2: Engineering Interest

 Have Mr. Benshoof edit your essays!

What’s Due In College Tasks

  • Essay 1
  • Essay 2
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Check-off

Here’s what’s due in College Tasks

  1. Write Scholarship Essay 1: Problems in Fairbanks
  2. Write Scholarship Essay 2: Engineering Interest
  3.  Have Mr. Benshoof edit your essays!

Double Check: Unit Expectations

Check what you need to have completed by the unit deadline

The purpose of this unit is to give you an opportunity to learn a new machine, and also to think about the process of learning a new machine or tool.  As engineers, you will often have to learn new processes or new pieces of machinery.  Keeping the learning process in mind will help you tackle those new challenges as your education continues.  The best engineers see a new tool and know how to approach learning how to use it!

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:

(Exploration) You should have taken 1-2 pages of notes on how to use your new machine or process

(Exploration) You should have notes on your engineering design process including the usual design brief, brainstorming, sketch, and description of your prototype

(Exploration) You should have written feedback from your peers

Building & Making:

 (Exploration) You should have built your prototype using your new machine!

 (College Tasks) You should have written Scholarship Essay 1 on problems in Fairbanks

 (College Tasks) You should have written Scholarship Essay 2 on the benefits of lawsuits

Benshoof Checkpoints

 (Exploration) Have Mr. Benshoof approve your idea

(Exploration) Have Mr. Benshoof check-off your completed prototype

(College Tasks) Have Mr. Benshoof edit your essays