Engineering Projects Gallery

Shadow Boxes

Project Objectives: 

Project Objectives: 
This eighth-grade capstone project combines visual design, fabrication, electronics, and programming.
  • Step 1 - Research examples & brainstorm ideas
  • Step 2 - Design a scene 
  • Step 3-  Create a prototype
  • Step 4-  Digitize and laser cut 4 plates and glue to frames
  • Step 5-  Laser cut plates, box, glass and light transmission plate
  • Step 6 - Assembling and soldering electronics
  • Step 7 - Programming

Grade Range:



Grades 6-8 Adobe Illustrator Art

Project Outline and Details

Step 1 - Research Examples

Students look at the works of artists Hari and Deepti as examples of commercial quality shadow boxes. They create a list of at least 10 different ideas. If their idea is visually simple, they will need to add movement using one or more servomotors. They then choose their favorite idea to sketch and prototype.

Step 2 - Design a Scene

After choosing a scene that contains depth, they create a sketch that illustrates a place that can be broken down into 4 distinct plates. Students place their sketches on the whiteboard and are critiqued by their peers. In critique, they learn to objectively analyze, describe and evaluate each other's work with the intention of making improvements.

Step 3 - Create a Prototype

Using paper with foam core frames, students use an utility blade to create a simple prototype of their light box and test it with lights to see if it will illuminate the way they like.

Step 4 - Digitize and laser cut 4 plates and glue to frames

Sketches are scanned into Adobe Illustrator and translated into vector paths to be cut out on the laser cutter. They can also be entirely created digitally. After laser cutting, the paper plates are glued onto student-built frames 10” x 6.5”. Students are given a limited amount of wooden frame material and are asked to fill out a cutting schedule to ensure they cut the right amounts and correct lengths.

Step 5 - Laser cut plates, box, glass and light transmission plate & assemble

7” x 10.5” X 4” Boxes are laser cut with a front plexiglass plate and a light transmission plate. There is also a back plate that contains a housing for the Adafruit Playground, the microprocessor that will be used to program lights and in some cases servomotors. Boxes are glued together using wood glue and are sanded and finished with linseed oil.

Step 6 - Assembling and soldering electronics

A programmable Adafruit Neopixel strip is glued onto the backplate. Servomotors that create elements of movement in the shadow box may also be placed at this time. Ground, voltage and data pin wires are soldered from strips and servos onto the Adafruit Playground.

Step 7 - Programming

We use Microsoft’s Makecode to program our Adafruit Playground. Makecode allows students to easily toggle between block coding and Javascript. The Playground has many pins and onboard hardware like a thermostat, accelerometer, light sensor, sound and many analog and digital pins to play with!

Designing & Flying Kites

Project Objectives: 

The last quarter of third-grade engineering was spent studying aeronautical engineering. Lessons included: differences between aerospace and aeronautical engineering and where the two combine, the forces behind flight, and how to to build and test standard kite designs. Students then designed their own kites and tested their final projects.

  • Step 1 - Understanding the forces of flight
  • Step 2 - Create three basic kite designs
  • Step 3 - Test and analyze how different kites fly
  • Step 4 - Design, create, and fly your own kite
  • Step 5 - Design and create a kite winder

Tools and Materials: Transparent Paper, Recycled Bamboo Shafts from Window Shades, Light Crochet Thread
Estimated Cost per Kite: TBD

Grade Range

Grades 3-5


Woodworking Tools



Infinity Mirrors

Project Objectives

This is our Eighth Grade capstone project. Students are given the opportunity to create an infinity mirror using their own creative design. An infinity mirror is basically a sandwich of a one way mirror on the bottom and a two way mirror on the top with NeoPixel strips along the inside edge that produce an infinite reflection for the viewer. Students can create a miniature infinity mirror as a necklace pendant or a larger mirror as a side table.  The project gives students the opportunity to explore the physics of an infinity mirror, woodworking, acrylic and other material construction, electronics, housing fabrication, and programming.

Project Steps

  • Step 1 - Demonstration and activity on the physics behind an infinity mirror
  • Step 2 - Create basic prototype
  • Step 3 - Sketch and design your own version of an infinity mirror
  • Step 4 - Create technical drawings in Adobe Illustrator
  • Step 5 - Create a cardboard prototype
  • Step 6 - Create final housing
  • Step 7 - Install electronics
  • Step 8 - Programming

Grade Range: 

Grades 6-8


Adobe Illustrator




Download Project Objectives