Get Ready to Start Xploring!

Xplore Engineering offers 18 workshops in different engineering disciplines; each workshop is 90 minutes long. Every family will have the opportunity to participate in 3 workshops each day. No guarantees can be made to ensure enrollment in a particular workshop as registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Workshop Index 

  • Designing a Siege-Ready Catapult
  • How Do Insects Walk on Water? (new)
  • Building a Smarter World
  • Neural Engineering: Talking & Listening to Nerves
  • How Much Will Your Bridge Hold?
  • Use the Force! (new)
  • How Does Plastic Recycling Work? 
  • Wireless Communications Using Lasers 
  • Nuclear and Radiation Are All Around Me
  • Emergency Room Simulation Game (formerly Manufacturing Process Challenge)
  • Engineering a Cure for Diseases
  • Aerospace Engineering (new)
  • Up, Up and Away!   
  • Building and Racing a Sailboat (new)
  • Can You Walk on or Bounce a Fluid?
  • Driverless Cars
  • A Computer’s Heart
  • eXtraordinary Materials

Workshop Descriptions

Designing a Siege-Ready Catapult

Test your engineering skills by designing and building a catapult that can knock down even the strongest and sturdiest castles in the kingdom! Learn about design constraints and building techniques as you construct and use your catapult to knock down the castle walls. Through multiple builds and rebuilds design a catapult strong enough to bring down any castle.

Surface Tension

How Do Insects Walk On Water?

Why are raindrops round or spherical? What creates bubbles when you add liquid soap to your sink? Through a series of hands-on experiments, you will learn about surface tension and its importance in many everyday phenomena like the Cheerio effect!


Building a Smarter World (canceled)

How does your game controller know when you tilt it? How do drones adjust to the wind? In this workshop, you will learn about the tiny sensors that are all around us, use them to drive a remote control car, and finally put your creativity to work designing new ways to make our world better!

Neural Engineering: Talking & Listening to Nerves

Your nervous system is as fast as lightning! Accidentally touch a hot stove? Before you even realize it, you’ve pulled your hand away. Learn how sensations are turned into feelings and ideas into actions. We’ll use insects to teach you how to engineer the nervous system and show you how neuroscience can move robotic arms with brainpower to help paralyzed people walk. 

Girl testing her popsicle stick bridge strength

How Much will Your Bridge Hold?

Bridges are some of the biggest, coolest structures we use every day. And now, you can design and build your own. You’ll learn how engineers create safe, strong bridges and see how your own design stacks up in the bridge strength competition.

Use the Force!

Even the simplest everyday actions require your body to generate surprisingly large forces! Come explore how biomedical engineers capture data about how our bodies move and what forces they generate – and see how this information helps us to understand and treat different diseases and disabilities of the musculoskeletal system.

Plastic Recyling

How Does Plastic Recycling Work?

What is plastic, and how is it transformed into new things at the end of its life? In a hands-on demo, students will recycle old crayons into new ones, exploring the role of recycling stream contamination along the way.

Wireless Communications Using Lasers

How do we send information to satellites or across the ocean to other continents?  Using optics (light) we will assemble a laser communicator and learn how to transfer information through wireless technologies. Optics uses different forms of light to transfer information and communicate with each other. Everyday examples include cell phones, Bluetooth, and the internet

Nuclear and Radiation Are All Around Me

What is nuclear engineering and radiological sciences and how do they affect our everyday lives. Learn how nuclear energy works and how radiation is used to benefit our lives.

Kid works with jolly ranchers in the manufacturing process workshop

Emergency Room Simulation Game

Take part in emergency room scenarios, as doctors, nurses, and patients. Get hands-on experience improving processes for patient wait time and intake, as well as healthcare professional workload, physical set-ups, and more!

Engineering a Cure for Diseases

Engineers design technology and biologists explore cancer – put them together and you’re one step closer to a cure! Join the Biointerfaces Institute to learn how different labs are using engineering to understand cancer and find treatments. Various labs will host interactive hands-on activities for you to touch and explore.


Aerospace Engineering

Come explore the wide variety of aerospace engineering fields with us! This camp will give you a preview of many areas of aerospace engineering, from drones to rockets to modeling airplanes after birds. Learn how U-M students design and build aerospace systems and models, and join in on some hands-on projects.

kid working on rocket in rocket workshop

Up, Up and Away!

Build and launch your own rocket and launching system as you learn about the principles that power these amazing machines. You’ll even compete with other students to see whose rocket goes the furthest.


Building and Racing a Sailboat

In this workshop, participants will construct a small wooden sailboat and race it in the Lurie Reflecting Pool. This will allow them to find out if their boat sinks or floats, and to adjust their model to utilize the wind to get maximum speed.

Can You Walk on or Bounce a Fluid?

Can you walk across a pool full of fluid? You’ll learn how as you discover viscosity, shear, flow, and many other weird and fascinating properties of everyday fluids. We’ll test your ability to walk across a pool of Newtonian fluid.

Driverless Cars

Cars are getting smarter all the time, even smart enough to drive themselves! Learn how cars use sensors, programming logic, and controls. Next, you’ll incorporate them all into a semi-autonomous vehicle to race through a maze.

An artistic rendition of a blue heart made of robotic parts

A Computer’s Heart

Computers are everywhere! They surround us and connect the world together! How do computers play games? How does a file appear on your screen? Explore a  computer’s hardware and processors, and learn how the software uses these modern marvels to create cool applications and artificial intelligence!

eXtraordinary Materials

Have you ever seen an ordinary item do something totally unexpected?  In the world of materials, we are always finding new ways to make substances with surprising properties.  In this workshop, you will use real research tools – high magnification microscopes, cryogenic substances, rare earth magnets, and more – to see that everyday materials can be far from ordinary!