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Help Fight Malaria With A Better Thermometer


Students create a simple thermometer and learn about diseases that show symptoms of elevated body temperature.


  • Students will be able to:
  • Apply the engineering design process
  • Evaluate user needs
  • Implement a program to process sensor data
  • Design a user interface (UI)
  • Design a device with both hardware and software
  • Choose methods for processing data
  • Iterate and improve design solutions
  • Improve problem-solving and communication skills

Required Prior Knowledge:

No prior knowledge required.


  • STEMgem kit with temperature sensor, 1 per group of 2 students
  • Internet-capable device for programming (e.g. tablet, laptop, large enough phone)




Many diseases are associated with elevated body temperature. Especially for infants, fever can be very dangerous. But even for adults, infections such as malaria can kill. Malaria is common in developing countries. In 2015, 214 million people were infected, resulting in 438,000 deaths, 90% of which in Africa. But also other diseases present a problem to developing countries in particular, because immunizations may not be available. This is the case for measles and meningitis, to name two examples, which can both lead to permanent brain damage or even death.

Students are equipped with STEMgem kit with a temperature sensor.

If students are unfamiliar with STEMgem, introduce them (with example: connect a sensor & make an app - see guidebook)

Breakout Session / Design and Making

Collect user needs. ('Measure temperature' should be one of them.)

Go build! In groups of 2, students will create and test an invention and make a helpful interface. They can use different methods, e.g. convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit; improve the accuracy of their result using code, or alert the user more directly and convey a high sense of urgency.

Remind students it's an iterative process with intermediate testing and adjusting. Students can tinker with physical shape and appearance as well as technological concepts and user interface (UI), including voice output.

Experiment and Evaluate

Test your creation! Does it fulfill all design requirements?


Every student briefly presents to the class what they have made, what their vision was, and how they might add to it in the future.


Students use worksheets to evaluate their progress towards relevant State standards or NGSS learning goals.

Take-Home Assignment:

Students document their design process and result in writing and using photos and videos they took in a digital design journal on


SEPS.1 Posing questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering).
SEPS.2 Developing and using models and tools.
SEPS.3 Constructing and performing investigations.
SEPS.4 Analyzing and interpreting data.
SEPS.5 Using mathematics and computational thinking.
SEPS.6 Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering).
SEPS.7 Engaging in argument from evidence.
SEPS.8 Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.
MS-ETS1 Engineering Design
Data and Information
Computing Devices and Systems
Programs and Algorithms
Impact and Culture
Networking and Communication
General Technological Concepts
Developing / Engineering Technology
Assessing Technological Actions
Producing / Using Technology
Crosscutting Concepts
Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World

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