Educator Design Challenges

In 2008, Transformation 2013 worked with master science and math educators to design PBLs for the core math and science areas. This topic is complex and, in order to logically reveal or present it, you should turn to narrowly focused research papers and conduct your own statistics and sub-research, if you experience difficulties at this stage, cheap ghostwriters for hire. These design challenges are rigorous, aligned with CSCOPE and include career connections, 21st Century skills and provide STEM connections. Click the course to see and download the design challenges.

Algebra I
Algebra II

Transformation 2013 utilizes a research based model for creating PBLs. Click here to download the model or go to our article "Mindful Technology Integration: Ensuring Ethical Use in Education" to learn more about it. Feel free to use this to plan your own PBLs, however we ask that you use the model in the entire format and not alter any components. As the model is updated and revised the new version will be posted.

Educators from STEM academies and public high schools across Texas gathered to learn, create and share problem based learning activities. Below are the fruits of their labor. Feel free to use in your classroom. Please give credit to the original author.

While each project is correlated to a high school course, we encourage you to delve into a variety of projects as many lend themselves to other subject areas.

Educator Name Project Title Description Course TEKS
Amin Lalani
Team Logo
In this Design Challenge, students will take on the role of a team logo designer for the Dallas Cowboys. The students will explore how logo construction incorporates elliptical properties and they will apply their new knowledge to solve a real world problem.
Algebra 2
2A.5B,C,D and additional untargeted 8th Grade TEKS
Alicia Sarvis
Salt Package Design

In this Design Challenge, students will take on the role of package design specialists who are enlisted to develop a cost-0effective packaging for salt. The students will develop a 3D prototype built around specified parameters and the package will be put through a series of tests.
Data collection sheet

G.6B, G.8D, and additional untargeted 8th Grade TEKS
Julie Rohan
Super Water Slide
In this Design Challenge, students will tak eon the role of engineers who design waterslides for a water theme park. The students will investigate, generate and solve systems of equations and use the solutions to solve real world problems.
Algebra 2
2A.1B; 2A.3A,B,C; 2A.4A,B,C; 2A.6B,C; 2A.8D and additional untargeted 8th Grade TEKS
Kathy West
What can I Derive from Velocity?
In this Design Challenge, students will design a roller coaster for Six Flags Fiesta Texas that relies solely on the force of gravity to move the cars. The students will specifically investigate derivatives and their roles in instantaneous velocities.
AP Requirements: 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3
Ron Tipton
Location and Function of Spaceports
In this Design Challenge, students will take on the role of aerospace engineers. The students will research spaceport facilities, weigh advantages and disadvantages of spaceport locations, identify two new spacport locations, and present their findings in a proposal to Orbital Sciences Corporation executives (aka the class).
Principles of Engineering
National Research Council Standards for Science as Inquiry, Earth and Space Science, and Science and Technology; NCTM Standards for Data Analysis and Probability
Michael Svetly
Roller Coaster Design Contest
In this Design Challenge, students will take on the role of engineers who design roller coasters for Six Flags Fiesta Texas. The students will model the coasters using a computer simulation program and they will design, model, and test their roller coasters using concrete materials. They will learn about ratio, similarity, scale, force, and motion.
G.2, G.4, G.5, G.11, A.10, and additional untargeted 8th Grade TEKS
Nicole Howard
Pimp My Ride: Spinners
In this Design Challenge, students will investigate how spinners/dubs/rims work. They will learn about wheel and axle design, forces, friction, and rotation, and they will learn how to create free-body diagrams.
Principles of Technology
IPC 4B,D; Physics 4B,C,D; Principles of Technology 5A,C,D
Sandra Lumpkin
Skate Park Design
In this Design Challenge, students will investigate functions and rate of change as they design a skate park. They will collect data, understand slope (rate of change), interpret and make decisions regarding functional relationships, and describe and predict the effect of change of slope in real world situations.
Algebra 1
A.1A,B,E; A.6A,B,C,F
Emily Mims
The Kitchen Invention: A Better Tool for You
In this Design Challenge, students learn the concepts of work, power, simple machines, mechanical advantage and efficiency through a series of activities and a kitchen tool design challenge.
IPC 4A, C, D
Michael Watkins
If you Build It, Vandalism Will Stop
In this Design challenge, students will investigate the use of polygons in the real world by designing a graffiti park or public art studio. They will apply formulas for surface area and volume and will also use scale factor in modeling their designs.
G.4, G.6C, G.8D
Jean Gifford
Disaster Aid Catapult
In this Design Challenge, students will be using their knowledge of Newton's Laws of Motion and equations for projectile motion to create their design. They will construct a catapult device to deliver necessary disaster supplies to an isolated flood disaster area.
Emily Abrams
When Crime Gets Dirty
In this Design Challenge, an FBI drug enforcement agent is abducted from the streets in Guadalajara, Mexico. Dirt is the key to solving the mystery of his death. This PBL asks student to use their knowledge of density to uncover the location of the crime scene.
C.2A,B,E, C.3A,D, C.4B,C
Catherine Dowling
In this Design Challenge, students will employ one-sample t procedures to construct a confidence interval for the mean differences between a person's walking stride and running stride.
AP Statistics
Laura Johnson
Solar Power vs. Hydrogen Power
In this design challenge, students are introduced to different energy sources. Specifically, they will investigate hydrogen and solar power as a sources of energy for automobiles. Students see the advantages and disadvantages to both types of energy as they study how the energy is produced, the energy output/efficiency, cost and supply, the effects of the energy on the environment, and how technological advancements in areas such as nanotechnology might make these energy sources more effective in the future.
Marlene Ramirez
The Polar Ice Cap Meltdown
What is causing the earth to get warmer, anthropogenic (human-originating) global warming or is it just part of a natural climate cycle? If the rising temperature affects glaciers and icebergs, could the polar ice caps be in danger of melting and causing the oceans to rise and flood our coastal cities? Students write an APA style research paper presenting their findings about global warming.
IPC 3A 6D,H 8E
Christina Holland
Nano Corporate Logo
In this design challenge s tudents will design a nano-scale logo for a nanotech corporation, as newly hired members of the design team. The logo must be of a scale to fit on the nanochips produced by the company, and must therefore be configured from Buckeyballs (rough spheres of carbon), prisms from graphite sheets, and carbon nanotubes. They will need to know the volume taken up by their logo, as well as the surface area (as a measure of cost in terms of the amount of carbon needed to produce the logo). Students must communicate their design persuasively and quantitatively through a written report, graphics, and a group presentation.
G.6C, G.8D
Abel Gonzalez
Space Elevator-Fact or Fiction
In this design challenge, students are asked to study and assess the feasibility of building and deploying an elevator system that would carry cargo and people into space without the use of rockets. Specifically, the students will investigate the properties of tethered bodies in terms of linear and angular velocity, mass, gravity, and mechanical energy and momentum.
P2A, 3A, 4B,C,D, 6A
Shelley Abernathy
Casting a New Light on Fiber Evidence
In this design challenge, students will observe the effects of polarized light on different objects, prepare fibers for observation under microscopes, and compare those fibers with known samples to mimic how Trace Evidence Technicians identify fibers from crime scenes to link, or exclude, suspects to said crime scenes.
Research and Design

6C, 7A,B,C
Physics 9C

Rhonda Harmond
Measurement and the Viturvian Man
In this design challenge students will consider that the same things often come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They will investigate the Vitruvian Theory to explore relationships between different measurements. Finally, the students will apply the idea of using one measurement to determine another in a simulated, real world crime scene.


1A, 2A,B,C,D 3A,D,E

Janice Trinidad
Mary Mobley
Pimp My Playground Ride
In this design challenge students demonstrate and investigate simple machines by designing a playground ride for an elementary school that can be used to teach lessons on simple machines. Students will demonstrate simple machines by designing rides that involve several simple machines. They will characterize their rides using the concepts of mechanical advantage, force, and momentum. They will use these concepts to determine the safety of their ride and to design a 5E lesson plan that uses their ride to teach a simple machines lesson to an elementary school class.
IPC/Algebra I

additional untargeted ELA TEKS


Rose Robertson
How Quenched is Your Thirst?
Are sports drinks only for athletes? What do sports drinks really do for the body? In this design challenge, students are tasked to write a magazine article for Runner's World magazine that uncovers the myth and the scienee behind sports drinks. The research reveals when and who should consume sports drinks and how to make a homemade sports drink. Through their research, students will discover the role of the various ingredients found in sports drinks, how electrolytic content is determined, which compounds in the ingredient provide the electrolytes, and much more. Scientific literacy is a key component of this challenge.
C.3B,C C.4C,D C.8B, C.11A, C.12C
Robert Marak
Case of the Wiped out Cotton Crop

A farmer has discovered that a portion of his cotton crop has been wiped out by a pest. The students, working in teams, determine three possible solutions, at least one of which is organically acceptable, for pest management and to prevent further crop destruction. A comparison of options should be provided, including cost and environmental risk assessment. Through their research, students learn about ecology, symbiotic relationships and agricultural engineering.

B12B, C, E
Jennifer Lane
Butler Robot

Students are challenges to design, create, and program a Butler Robot that holds and assignment securely while maneuvering through a set path to the teacher's desk and places and assignment into the correct bin (homework, class work, quiz bins). Through this challenge, students investigate the laws governing motion.

Butler Robot Design Challenge
Common Palette Reference Card
Controls Notes
Lego Hardware
Four Wheel Vehicle
Three Wheel Vehicle
Treaded Vehicle

IPC, Physics
IPC2A,B,C,D IPC4A, Physics4A,B,C,E
Teresa Megahan
Mix it up: Precision and Accuracy in Manufacturing Processes
Students learn about controlling precision and accuracy in experimentation and the importance of these principles in quality control. Students design an automated paint blending process using LEGO Mindstorms NXT technology and Vernier probeware to complete the design challenge.
2B, C, 3C
Vincent Wrencher
Bridge Challenge
Small Town has hired the class to research, develop and build a bridge that meets their expectations. Student teams will present proposals for the bridges with pros/cons of the bridge type and their engineering recommendation for which bridge to build. The class will be divided into three groups: Beam Team, Suspension Team and Arch Team. Each team will research and present their bridge type and build a model.
Engineering Principles
Stan Gabel
Designer Zoo
At the request of the Taylor City Council, Biology students are instructed to design a zoo that incorporates the eight major biomes of the earth.
8A,B, 12D,E
Chad Springer
How Safe is Our Drinking Water
Students will design and conduct quantitative experiments that will test the amount of dissolved solids in the drinking water from the City of Taylor.
2A,C 12B, 13A
Bridget Krahula
Skycoaster Project
The students will design and build a model of a Skycoaster that is 1 meters tall and will successfully support a 1 kilogram mass when dropped.
Principles of Technology
5B,D, 6A,C
Stan Gabel
When Body Systems Get Drunk
Working in teams, students create an informational brochure focusing on the short and long-term effects of alcohol on the organs in the respective body systems (circulatory, digestive, nervous, endocrine, reproductive, integumentary, skeletal, respiratory, muscular, excretory, and immune).
Jeanne Morriss
A Sketch is Worth a Thousand Words
A student death has been reported at Hays High School. The cause of death is trauma to the head. The manner of death is undetermined. Did the student trip or was the student pushed? The custodian was within 50 feet of the crime scene but claims to have seen nothing. The key to determining the truth lies in the sketch.
Geometry, Protective Services
Geometry: 2B 3E
Protective Services: 2A 5B
David Farhie
Drops Tell The Tale
In this PBL, students will investigate how surfaces affect the measurement and behavior of blood spatters and drops and how blood drops display on different surfaces. They will also determine if surface tension inhibits or promotes the spreading of blood drops on surfaces and if the porosity of the surface promotes or inhibits the spreading of blood drops.
Gloria Schuldt
Landfill Reclamation: A Cleanup Process

The project will direct the class to act as consulting engineers to help a recycling company decide how to handle lead contamination on their property. A presentation from the recycling company along with a memo outlining the conditions on the site will start the project off. The student will collect background research, develop experiments, collect and analyze data and finally decided on a best course of action for the company. Their final products will be a formal report and a presentation to the recycling company.
Acid Base Titration Curves
Acids & Bases
Consumer Chemicals Lab
Lab Report Format
Taylor Smile Landfill
Video Quiz
Titration Video

10B, 12A,B,C 5A, 1B



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