Handheld Vacuum Cleaner: Can dust cleaning be fun? Creative Commons, Attribution + Noncommercial + ShareAlike (BY-NC-SA)
Authors: Eugenides Foundation
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This challenge introduces the field of electrical engineering by guiding students to explore how electrical engineers design and test technologies in order to fulfill human needs. Following the Engineer Design Process, students are introduced to the real world of creative engineering product design, such as the construction of an electric vacuum cleaner. Electricity and magnetism are all around us. Every day we use electric lights, electric clocks, calculators, televisions, computers, radio, and mobile phones. Light itself is an electromagnetic phenomenon. The colors of the rainbow are there because of electricity. Cars, airplanes, trains can only run because of electricity. Muscle contractions require electricity; our nerve system is driven by electricity. Atoms, molecules, all chemical reactions exist because of electricity. We couldn’t even see without electricity, our heart would not beat without electricity and we could not even think without electricity (Walter Hendrik Gustav Lewin).
Knowledge acquisition gain
  Skills: Introduction of the world of design process and on how engineers work / encourage problem-solving skills / practical application of science and math in engineering / developing critical thinking / support teamwork, motivation, troubleshooting and learning from failure / understanding of the materials and their role in the engineering process. Science concepts: electricity, magnetism, electromagnetism, Induction, Law of electromagnetic induction, Faraday’s experiment, Oersted’s experiment, magnetic field, electric field, electric circuit, Bernoulli’s principle, Venturi effect.

STEM careers and labor market

There are numerous scientific, engineering technological elements which are involved in the development of actual vacuum cleaners. Some of them are the following:

• Electrical Engineering: Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that deals with the study and application of the principles of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. The invention of the transistor and the integrated circuit, made electronics cheap enough so that they can be used in almost every household object.

• Design Engineering: A design engineer can apply his/her knowledge in various engineer disciplines such as electrical mechanical, aerospace, nuclear, civil, and building. Design engineers develop conceptual and detailed designs that ensure that the product will be functional and will meets its purpose. They are also responsible for the conceptual aesthetic and ergonomic aspects of the design. Design engineers may work in a team along with other types of engineers for prototyping and producing an artifact. In the words of James Dyson (Inventor of cyclonic vacuum technology), Like everyone we get frustrated by products that don’t work properly. As design engineers we do something about it. We are all about invention and improvement.

• Electronic Engineering: Because modern vacuum cleaners are powerful they produce noise. An electronic engineer is needed in order to create an electronic circuit which acts as a system of active noise control thus reducing noise.

• Material Engineering: Material engineers play an important role in the process of manufacturing and producing machines such as vacuum cleaners. They study and analyze the properties of materials which in the future will be used by industry. Material scientists and engineers work on radical materials advances that can drive the creation of new products or new industries. Material scientists research the properties of materials such as: mechanical, chemical, electrical, thermal, optical and magnetic.

  240 min
Number of staff
Science Discipline
Education Level
12-18 years
Installation effort
No installation required on typical computer
Knowledge prerequisites
Classroom use
Supervision required
Teacher supervision required
Technical requirements
You'll need to buy some materials

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