June 20, 2017, BY Matt Hughes

It's not every day that a student project ends up in a museum — much less a project that took less than a week to go from a rough idea to a fully realized educational experience. But that's exactly where some of the work Bucknell undergraduate engineers created is headed.

The students, 12 in all, were participants in the 2017 Bucknell Fabrication Workshop, or B-Fab, an intensive weeklong experience for engineering students that emphasizes the use of product-development tools to create functional prototypes. This year, B-Fab students teamed up with the soon-to-open Lewisburg Children's Museum to devise hands-on learning experiences for the museum's elementary-age target audience.

"We hope that this project can inspire visitors to the children's museum," said Win Kyaw '19, an electrical engineering major who created an exhibit for the museum based on the Mars rover. "We want to share our passion, show them what we love to do and how to do it, and inspire the kids to pursue STEM practices." 

Take a look inside B-Fab 2017 in this 3-D video (360 viewing is supported by the latest verson of the YouTube app, as well as Chrome, Opera, Firefox or Internet Explorer). Video by Emily Paine, Division of Communications

"We really had to get to know our customers," added Jean Leong '20, a computer science & engineering major. "Kids can take any of the parts we're creating and use them in ways we couldn't have imagined. The safety of each feature is important, and I learned to be more aware of the specific details of each part of the project." 

After touring the museum space, which is still under construction in the former Lewisburg High School building, and conferring with representatives from engineering consulting firm and workshop sponsor Accenture, the students developed prototypes for four different exhibits that may soon find a permanent home educating and entertaining countless visitors: 

  • A reconfigurable Rube Goldberg-style contraption that lets children unleash their creativity while building spatial awareness skills, 

  • A game that teaches aspiring astronauts to learn how satellites work as they blast asteroids with a laser beam, 

  • A remote-controlled planetary rover that can pick up and move "Martian rocks," and   

  • An infinity wall where children and parents alike can gaze and marvel at the vastness of the cosmos. 

See more of what the B-Fab participants made and how they made it below.

The designers hope this scale model of a game in which children can shoot "asteroids" with a laser beam will be replicated on the ceiling of the children's museum. 
A remote-control "Mars Rover" contains a robotic arm museum visitors can use to pick up "Martian rocks."  
Children can rearrange the magnetic parts of this Rube Goldberg-style machine to guide a ball into a hoop in different ways.
The infinity wall uses color-changing LED lights. The designers plan the final version to cover an entire wall in the children's museum.