Everyone has their favorite projects and this one of mine!
The Electric Propulsion Innovation Challenge (EPIC), is an engineering design challenge that teaches kids to design, build and fly a small, electric airplane. Airplanes tether to and fly around a central flight tower, so it’s easy to set up and perfect for indoors.
EPIC is one of my favorite. projects. ever. Here’s why it should be one of your favorites too:
It’s Hands-On and Low-Cost
Two wins, from the start! EPIC leaves the design and creativity up to the kids. There are no kits or instructions, just loosely suggested supplies (for teacher/coach sanity) and game rules to keep the challenge fair. EPIC lets kids experiment with what works and use the Engineering Design Process to strengthen their iterative design skills. With each airplane costing around $10 to build, it’s accessible to a lot of schools and students.
EPIC is standards-aligned for grades 6-12, but that doesn’t mean that other ages/grades can’t participate. We target this grade range because of the level of fine motor skills required and math required to make design calculations. That said, if you’ve got a determined and interested group at a different level, have at it! (Just know that if you attend one of our Fly-Offs, students younger than our age range compete with the 6-8 grade band and students out of high school or over 18 don’t qualify.)
It Shows Kids Potential Career Pathways
As students learn about the basic principles of flight and airplane design, they discover different skills that highlight potential career pathways in STEM and aerospace/aviation. Even if a student doesn’t like or decide to pursue any of these pathways, it’s still great for them to have had the experience and learned some transferrable skills.
It Changes Every Year
The premise stays the same- kids will always design small, electric airplanes. But, thee game changes each year. This year for 2021 our game is called Touch N Go. In this game, students are challenged to design airplanes that will land on specific targets and then immediately resume flight. Since the specific game changes each year, your kids can participate in EPIC every year until they graduate and it will always be a new, fun experience!
It’s Awesome Fun
EPIC is a rigorous project but it’s tons for fun for kids. Because it changes each year, it keeps kids interested and learning since there’s always a different game to play. Check out these kids having a great time at one of our fly-offs!
Lane specializes in STEM curriculum design and professional development for K-12 stakeholders and enjoys making teachers’ lives easier through innovative, standards-based STEM lessons.