Where are the Plastics Near Me? (Field Trip)
An adult-led field trip allows students to be organized into investigation teams that catalogue the incidence of plastic debris in different environments. These plastics are being investigated according to their type, age, location and other characteristics that might indicate what potential they have for becoming part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). Students will collect qualitative and quantitative data that may be used to create a Google Earth layer as part of a separate activity t
In and Out Reactor
Students learn about material balances, a fundamental concept of chemical engineering. They use stoichiometry to predict the mass of carbon dioxide that escapes after reacting measured quantities of sodium bicarbonate with dilute acetic acid. Students then react the chemicals in a small reactor made from a plastic water bottle and balloon.
Bone Mineral Density and Logarithms
Students examine an image produced by a cabinet x-ray system to determine if it is a quality bone mineral density image. Students write in their journals about what they need to know to be able to make this judgment. Students learn about what bone mineral density is, how a BMD image can be obtained, and how it is related to the field of x-ray. Students examine the process used to obtain a BMD image and how this process is related to mathematics, primarily through logarithmic functions. Students
Feel the Stress
Working individually or in groups, students explore the concept of stress (compression) through physical experience and math. They discover why it hurts more to poke themselves with mechanical pencil lead than with an eraser. Then they prove why this is so by using the basic equation for stress and applying the concepts to real engineering problems.
Concentrating on the Sun with PVs
Students design, build and test reflectors to measure the effect of solar reflectance on the efficiency of solar PV panels. They use a small PV panel, a multimeter, cardboard and foil to build and test their reflectors in preparation for a class competition. Then they graph and discuss their results with the class. Complete this activity as part of the Photovoltaic Efficiency unit and in conjunction with the Concentrated Solar Power lesson.
Your River’s Health
Students perform a macroinvertebrate survey to gauge the health of a local river. They collect water samples and count macroinvertebrates to learn how the health of a river’s ecosystem can be determined by its river insect population.
Repairing Broken Bones
Students learn about how biomedical engineers aid doctors in repairing severely broken bones. They learn about using pins, plates, rods and screws to repair fractures. They do this by designing, creating and testing their own prototype devices to repair broken turkey bones.
The students discover the basics of heat transfer in this activity by constructing a constant pressure calorimeter to determine the heat of solution of potassium chloride in water. They first predict the amount of heat consumed by the reaction using analytical techniques. Then they calculate the specific heat of water using tabulated data, and use this information to predict the temperature change. Next, the students will design and build a calorimeter and then determine its specific heat. After
Messin’ with Mixtures
In this activity, students investigate the properties of a heterogeneous mixture, trail mix, as if it were a contaminated soil sample near a construction site. This activity shows students that heterogeneous mixtures can be separated by physical means, and that when separated, all the parts will equal the whole.
Solid, Liquid or Gas?
Students are given a variety of materials and asked to identify if each material as a solid, liquid or gas. They use their five senses — sight, sound, smell, texture and taste — to identify the other characteristics of each item.
One World Ocean
In this activity, students learn about ocean currents and the difference between salt and fresh water. They use colored ice cubes to see how cold and warm water mix and how this mixing causes currents. Also, students learn how surface currents occur due to wind streams. Lastly, they learn how fresh water floats on top of salt water, the difference between water in the ocean and fresh water throughout the planet, and how engineers are involved in the design of ocean water systems for human use.
What to Wear? What to Drink? Weather Patterns and Climatic Regions
How does our climate affect us? How do we decide what to wear each day? What factors determine if our clothing choices are comfortable? What is the source of our water? Students explore characteristics that define climatic regions. They learn how tropical, desert, coastal and alpine climates result in different lifestyle, clothing, water source and food options for the people who live there. They learn that a location’s latitude, altitude, land features, weather conditions, and distance from l
A Magnetic Personality
Students learn about magnets and how they are formed. They investigate the properties of magnets and how engineers use magnets in technology. Specifically, students learn about magnetic memory storage, which is the reading and writing of data information using magnets, such as in computer hard drives, zip disks and flash drives.
Get Your Motor Running
Students investigate motors and electromagnets as they construct their own simple electric motors using batteries, magnets, paper clips and wire.
Students are introduced to chemical engineering and learn about its many different applications. They are provided with a basic introduction to matter and its different properties and states. An associated hands-on activity gives students a chance to test their knowledge of the states of matter and how to make observations using their five senses: touch, smell, sound, sight and taste.
Got Energy? Spinning a Food Web
Students learn about energy flow in food webs, including the roles of the sun, producers, consumers and decomposers in the energy cycle. They model a food web and create diagrams of food webs using their own drawings and/or images from nature or wildlife magazines. Students investigate the links between the sun, plants and animals, building their understanding of the web of nutrient dependency and energy transfer.
Rolling Blackouts & Environmental Impact – What are our Electricity Options?
The goal is for the students to understand the environmental design considerations required when generating electricity. The electric power that we use every day at home and work is generated by a variety of power plants. Power plants are engineered to utilize the conversion of one form of energy to another. The main components of a power plant are an input source of energy that is used to turn large turbines, and a method to convert the turbine rotation into electricity. The input sources of en
Levers that Lift
This lesson introduces students to three of the six simple machines used by many engineers: the lever, the pulley, and the wheel-and-axle. In general, engineers use the lever to magnify the force applied to an object, the pulley to lift heavy loads over a vertical path, and the wheel-and-axle to magnify the torque applied to an object. The mechanical advantage of these machines helps determine their ability to make work easier or make work faster.
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.