Remote Sensing Beta Test – Engineering Activity 3: Taking Shape

Remote Sensing - Engineering A2 Front

Activity Timing

15 min. Introduction
10 min. Investigate
30 min. Map a Test Surface
10 min. Reflect

65 min. Total

Prep Snapshot

Prep Time: 10 min

Set up Materials Table.

Create a sample LiDAR device.

A3 Educator Guide

A3 Engineering Notebook

Data Collection Grids

This snapshot intended for quick reminders and is not a replacement of the guide. Be sure to use the guide for detailed preparation instructions and implementation scripts.


Bird’s-eye view: a perspective from above 

Radar: radio detection and ranging 

Sonar: sound detection and ranging 

Topographic map: a representation of the shape of land in an area 

Topography: the shape of land in an area 

Remote Sensing Engineering Vocab List


21st Century Skills Connection

Collaboration, Creativity

Habits of Mind

  • Construct models and simulations 

Activity Overview

Youth engineer a model of a LiDAR technology to capture the shape and height of a landscape (topography). 

Guiding Question

How can we gather information about topography? 

Youth Will Do

  • Use bundles of straws as models to represent how remote sensing with laser technology can produce topographic maps. 
  • Develop ideas for changing the design of the straw model to better map the surface of objects.  

Youth Will Know

  • Engineers often use models to represent the technologies or materials they are investigating and test their technologies in model conditions. 
  • Engineers design technologies that capture complex data to make it easier to understand and use for different purposes. 
  • Engineers must evaluate the quality of the data their technologies produce. 

Videos Related to this Activity

Science Snippet: Build your content knowledge to help answer youth's questions.

Family Connections Story Prompt

Can you tell me a story about our landscape / the land on which we live?

Additional Resources

Connecting Across Activities

  • In Engineering Activity 2, youth used filters and scrapers to collect mineral data.
  • In this Activity, they design straw model LiDAR systems to gather data on a new subject: topography.
  • In Engineering Activity 4, they will put what they have learned together to design remote sensing devices that collect multiple types of data.