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STEM Activities

STEM Activity: Smart Skyscraper City

When you design your own smart city, the sky is the limit! This imaginative STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activity will challenge you to build an awesome skyscraper — a tall high-rise building — surrounded by a mini smart city.


Materials Needed

  • Cardboard boxes of different sizes
  • Craft materials (e.g., construction paper, tape, markers, etc.)
  • Scissors
  • Tape


Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Decide on a scale for your mini city with a skyscraper in the center. Will your city fit on a table, take over a whole room or be constructed outdoors?
  2. Once you determine the scale, start building your cardboard skyscraper using boxes of all different sizes.
  3. Try making a strong, wide base for your skyscraper, and then narrow in as you build up.
  4. Use craft materials to create a mini city all around your skyscraper, and to add colors and details to your city.
  5. Next, research smart technology! A great way to start is by getting to know National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductee Federico Faggin, co-inventor of the microprocessor, and by learning about the Internet of Things (or IoT).
  6. Decide how your skyscraper will communicate, and maybe even control some of the happenings in your city. Could there be automatic ice cream machines? Movies projected on the buildings? A luggage transporter for tourists? Let your imagination soar!
  7. Once your smart city design is ready, give your family or friends a tour!


What Are We Discovering?

While engaging in this design-a-city project, you can thank the inventors who paved the way for smart technology.

Hall of Famer Federico Faggin was part of the three-person team that designed the first microprocessor. The work of this team, which included co-inventors and fellow NIHF Inductees Ted Hoff and Stanley Mazor, has impacted people’s daily lives in both subtle and profound ways.

At age 19, Faggin co-designed and built a small computer. Just four years later, he earned a doctorate in physics and developed the technology that enabled the design of the microprocessor. Since it was first introduced in 1971, the microprocessor has been a part of virtually every electronic item in the modern world, from smartphones and personal computers to medical devices and traffic lights.

Faggin also founded the company that developed touchpads and touchscreens, which have revolutionized the way we use our mobile devices.


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