Design Inspired by Nature
Students discover how engineers can use biomimicry to enhance their designs. They learn how careful observation of nature — becoming a nature detective, so to speak — can lead to new innovations and products. In this activity, students reverse engineer a flower to glean design ideas for new products.
This lesson includes the various components required for the completion of the unit project related to identifying and carrying out a personal change to reduce energy consumption. Ideally, the preliminary homework assignments should be interspersed throughout the unit so that the students stay focused on their ultimate culminating project.
Energy forms and states demonstrations
Demonstrations are used to explain the concepts of energy forms (sound, chemical, radiant (light), electrical, atomic (nuclear), mechanical, thermal (heat)) and states (potential, kinetic)
Energy Choices Game
This board game is used to introduce the concepts of energy use in our lives and the very real impact that personal choices can have on our energy consumption, energy bills and fuel supply. The game begins as each student selects cards that define their mode of transportation and home design. The players roll dice and move around the board, landing on “choice” or “situation” blocks and selecting cards that describe consumer choices and real life events that impact their energy consumptio
My Mechanical Ear Can Hear!
Students are introduced to various types of hearing impairments and the types of biomedical devices that engineers have designed to aid people with this physical disability.
Induced EMF in a coil of wire
Students use a simple set up consisting of a coil of wire and a magnet to visualize induced EMF. First, students move a coil of wire near a magnet and observe the voltage that results. They then experiment with moving the wire, magnet, and a second, current carrying coil. Students connect the coil to a circuit and the current from the induced EMF charges a conductor.
May the Magnetic Force be with You
This lesson begins with a demonstration of the deflection of an electron beam. Students then review their knowledge of the cross product and the right hand rule with sample problems. After which, students study the magnetic force on a charged particle as compared to the electric force. The following lecture material covers the motion of a charged particle in a magnetic field with respect to the direction of the field. Finally, students apply these concepts to understand the magnetic force on a c
Measuring Our Muscles
Student teams build model hand dynamometers used to measure grip strengths of people recovering from sports injuries. They use their models to measure how much force their classmates muscles are capable of producing, and analyze the data to determine factors that influence a person’s grip strength. They use this information to produce a recommendation of a hand dynamometer design for a medical office specializing in physical therapy. They also consider the many other ways grip strength data is
Students learn about the advantages and disadvantages of the greenhouse effect. They construct their own miniature greenhouses and explore how their designs take advantage of heat transfer processes to create controlled environments. They record and graph measurements, comparing the greenhouse indoor and outdoor temperatures over time. Students are also introduced to global issues such as greenhouse gas emissions and their relationship to global warming.
Muscles, Oh My!
Students are introduced to how engineering closely relates to the field of biomechanics and how the muscular system produces human movement. They learn the importance of the muscular system in our daily lives, why it is important to be able to repair muscular injuries and how engineering helps us by creating things to benefit our muscular health, movement and repair.
Students apply their knowledge about mountains and rocks to transportation engineering, with the task of developing a model mountain tunnel that simulates the principles behind real-life engineering design. Student teams design and create model tunnels through a clay mountain, working within design constraints and testing for success; the tunnels must meet specific design requirements and withstand a certain load.
Form vs. Function
Students model and design the sound environment for a room. They analyze the sound performance of different materials that represent wallpaper, thick curtains, and sound-absorbing panels. Then, referring to the results of their analysis, they design another room based on certain specifications, and test their designs.
Engineers Speak for the Trees
Students begin by reading Dr. Seuss’ "The Lorax" as an example of how overdevelopment can cause long-lasting environmental destruction. Students discuss how to balance the needs of the environment with the needs of human industry. Student teams are asked to serve as natural resource engineers, city planning engineers and civil engineers with the task to replant the nearly destroyed forest and develop a sustainable community design that can co-exist with the re-established natural area.
Student are introduced to rivers, and to the components of the water cycle. They think about the effects of communities, sidewalks and roads on the natural flow of rainwater. Students also learn about the role of engineering in community planning and protecting our natural resources.
Don’t Confuse Your Qs!
Students investigate the difference between qualitative and quantitative measurements and observations. By describing objects both qualitatively and quantitatively, students learn that both types of information are required for complete descriptions. Students discuss various the characteristics of many objects, demonstrating how engineers use both qualitative and quantitative information in product design.
Strength of Materials
Students learn about the variety of materials used by engineers in the design and construction of modern bridges. They also find out about the material properties important to bridge construction and consider the advantages and disadvantages of steel and concrete as common bridge-building materials to handle compressive and tensile forces.
The Outer Planets
Students explore the outermost planets of our solar system: Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. They also learn about characteristics of Pluto and its interactions with Neptune. Students learn a little about the history of space travel as well as the different technologies that engineers develop to make space travel and scientific discovery possible.
Load It Up!
Students take a hands-on look at the design of bridge piers (columns). First they brainstorm types of loads that might affect a Colorado bridge. Then they determine the maximum possible load for that scenario, and calculate the cross-sectional area of a column designed to support that load. Choosing from clay, foam or marshmallows, they create model columns and test their calculations.
Students learn about the causes, composition and types of volcanoes. They begin with an overview of the Earth’s interior and how volcanoes form. Once students know about how a volcano functions, they learn how engineers predict eruptions. In a class demonstration, students watch and measure a mock volcanic eruption and observe the phases of an eruption, seeing how a volcano gets its shape and provides us with clues to predict a blast.
Students design and conduct experiments to determine what environmental factors favor decomposition by soil microbes. They use chunks of carrots for the materials to be decomposed, and their experiments are carried out in plastic bags filled with dirt. Every few days students remove the carrots from the dirt and weigh them. Depending on the experimental conditions, after a few weeks most of the carrots will have decomposed completely.