Through five lessons, students are introduced to all facets of the rock cycle. Topics include rock and mineral types, material stresses and weathering, geologic time and fossil formation, the Earth’s crust and tectonic plates, and soil formation and composition. Lessons are in the context of the related impact on humans in the form of roadway and tunnel design and construction, natural disasters, environmental site assessment for building structures, and measurement instrumentation and tools.
Students look at the components of cells and their functions. The lesson focuses on the difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Each part of the cell performs a specific function that is vital for the cell’s survival. Bacteria are single-celled organisms that are very important to engineering. Engineers can use bacteria to break down toxic materials in a process called bioremediation, and they can also kill or disable harmful bacteria through disinfection.
Sound Environment Shapers
Students are introduced to the sound environment as an important aspect of a room or building. Several examples of acoustical engineering design for varied environments are presented. Students learn the connections between the science of sound waves and engineering design for sound environments.
Spacecraft Design: Beat the Heat
To understand the challenges of satellite construction, student teams design and create model spacecraft to protect vital components from the harsh conditions found on Mercury and Venus. They use slices of butter in plastic eggs to represent the internal data collection components of the spacecraft. To discover the strengths and weaknesses of their designs, they test their unique thermal protection systems in a planet simulation test box that provides higher temperature and pressure conditions.
A Good Foundation
Students explore the effects of regional geology on bridge foundation, including the variety of soil conditions found beneath foundations. They learn about shallow and deep foundations, as well as the concepts of bearing pressure and settlement.
Building a Barometer
Students investigate the weather from a systems approach, learning how individual parts of a system work together to create a final product. Students learn how a barometer works to measure the Earth’s air pressure by building a model using simple materials. Students analyze the changes in barometer measurements over time and compare those to actual weather conditions. They learn how to use a barometer to understand air pressure and predict actual weather changes.
Students investigate how different riparian ground covers, such as grass or pavement, affect river flooding. They learn about permeable and impermeable materials through the measurement how much water is absorbed by several different household materials in a model river. Students use what they learn to make recommendations for engineers developing permeable pavement. Also, they consider several different limitations for design in the context of a small community.
In this lesson, students will extend their knowledge of matter and energy cycles in an organism to engineering life cycle assessment of a product. Students will learn about product life cycle assessment and the flow of energy through the cycle, comparing it to the flow of nutrients and energy in the life cycle of an organism.
Problem Solve Your School
Students apply what they have learned about the engineering design process to a real-life problem that affects them and/or their school. They chose a problem as a group, and then follow the engineering design process to come up with and test their design solution. This activity teaches students how to use the engineering design process while improving something in the school environment that matters to them. By performing each step of the design process, students can experience what it is like t
Modern Day Pyramids
Students investigate the ways in which ancient technologies — six types of simple machines and combinations — are used to construct modern buildings. As they work together to solve a design problem (designing and building a modern structure), they brainstorm ideas, decide on a design, and submit it to a design review before acquiring materials to create it (in this case, a mural depicting it). Emphasis is placed on cooperative, creative teamwork and the steps of the engineering design proces
Watch It Slide!
Students use inclined planes as they recreate the difficult task of raising a monolith of rock to build a pyramid. They compare the push and pull of different-sized blocks up an inclined plane, determine the angle of inclination, and learn the changes that happen when the angle is increased or decreased.
Marine animal tracking
The following lesson is an introduction to the ideas and implications of animal tracking. Animal tracking is a useful method used within science and commercial industries. For instance, when planning the development coastal areas, animal presence and movement should be taken into consideration. The lesson engages students in an activity to monitor animal foraging behavior on a spatial scale. The students will break into groups and track each other’s movements as they move through a pre-determi
Skyscrapers: Engineering Up!
Skyscrapers are one of the most glorified products of Civil Engineering and contain an interesting history of progress and development. In this lesson, the students will learn about the history of the world’s tallest free standing structures and the basic design principles behind their success. Students will build their own newspaper skyscrapers with limited materials and time, trying to achieve a maximum height and the ability to withstand a “hurricane wind” force. Discussion will concent
Testing Fundamental Loads
Students will conduct several simple lab activities to learn about the five fundamental load types that can act on structures: tension, compression, shear, bending, and torsion. In this activity, students break foam insulation blocks by applying these five fundamental load types (tension, compression, shear, bending and torsion). Students will study carefully each type of fracture pattern (break in the material) and make drawings of the fracture patterns in their notes in order to learn the tell
Light Plants and Dark Plants, Wet Plants and Dry Ones
Students plant sunflower seeds in plastic cups, and once germinated, these are exposed to different conditions of light levels and/or soil moisture contents. During exposure of the plants to these different conditions, students measure growth of the seedlings every few days using non-standard measurement (inch cubes). After a few weeks, they compare the growth of plants exposed to the different conditions, and make pictorial bar graphs that demonstrate these comparisons.
In this lesson, students will determine what supplies they will take with them to survive their trip through the Amazon. Students will use estimation and basic math skills to determine how much they can carry and what they can use to survive in the Amazon and how much they can carry until they reach their destination.
Rocks, Rocks, Rocks
Student teams will test rocks to identify and record rock properties such as luster, hardness, color, etc., and classify rocks as igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. They will complete a worksheet table with all of their rock properties, and then answer some worksheet questions to deepen their understanding of rock properties and relate them to the cavern design problem.
Testing the Caverns - Optional
This activity provides a fun, activity-based closure to the Asteroid Impact unit. Students build model caverns using paper mache or clay and bury them in a tray of sand. Next, they test the models by dropping balls onto them to simulate an asteroid hitting the earth. By molding paper mache around a balloon to form a dome, or around a small cardboard box to form a rectangular structure, students will be able to build their caverns.
Scaling the Map
Students will learn how to determine map distances and map areas using the map scale. They will also get a better feel for how much an area represents on the map in relation to the size they are suggesting for their cavern.
Flow Rates of Faucets and Rivers
In the Flow Rate Experiment, students perform hands-on experiments with a common faucet, as well as work with the Engineering Our Water Living Lab (accessible through TeachEngineering.com) to gain a better understanding of flow rate and how it pertains to engineering and applied science. Students calculate the flow rate of a faucet for three different levels (quarter blast, half blast, and full blast). Building on these calculations, students hypothesize about the flow rate in a nearby river, an