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Curious Contraptions

Source Institutions

    Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

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Curious Contraptions

In this engineering design activity, learners will design, test, and build a “haunting machine” to solve a Sherlockian mystery. Learners will experience the engineering design process, including the importance of planning, creating a prototype, recording data, and making improvements to an original design.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
      • Gravity
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Crime Science
  • Literature


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Exhibits Development Group; Geoffrey M. Curley + Associates


  • All Rights Reserved, ©2014


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