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.
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.