A New Angle on PV Efficiency
Students examine how the orientation of a photovoltaic (PV) panel relative to the sun affects the efficiency of the panel. Using sunshine (or a lamp) and a small PV panel connected to a digital multimeter, students vary the angle of the solar panel, record the resulting current output on a worksheet, and plot their experimental results.
The Challenge Question
This lesson introduces the “Walk the Line” Challenge question. Students are asked to journal responses to the question and brainstorm what information they will need to answer the question. The ideas are shared with the class (or in pairs and then to the class, if class size is large). Students then read an interview with an engineer to gain a professional perspective on linear data sets and best-fit lines. Students brainstorm any additional ideas and add them to the list they produced alrea
Bernoulli’s principle relates the pressure of a fluid to its elevation and its speed. Bernoulli’s equation can be used to approximate these parameters in water, air or any fluid that has very low viscosity. Students learn about the relationships between the components of the Bernoulli equation through real-life engineering examples and practice problems.
Through eight lessons, students are introduced to many facets of dams, including their basic components, the common types (all designed to resist strong forces), their primary benefits (electricity generation, water supply, flood control, irrigation, recreation), and their importance (historically, currently and globally). Through an introduction to kinetic and potential energy, students come to understand how dams generate electricity. They learn about the structure, function and purpose of loc
Students will discover the scientific basis for the use of inclined planes. They will explore, using a spring scale, a bag of rocks and an inclined plane, how dragging objects up a slope is easier than lifting them straight up into the air. Also, students are introduced to the scientific method and basic principles of experimentation. Finally, students design their own use for an inclined plane.
Solving Energy Problems
The culminating energy project is introduced and the technical problem solving process is applied to get the students started on the project. By the end of the class, the students should have a good perspective on what they have already learned and what they still need to learn to complete the project.
Light vs. Heat Bulbs
Students measure the light output and temperature (as a measure of heat output) for three types of light bulbs to identify why some light bulbs are more efficient (more light with less energy) than others.
Energy Forms, States and Conversions
The students participate in many demonstrations during the first day of this lesson to learn basic concepts related to the forms and states of energy. This knowledge is then applied the second day as they assess various everyday objects to determine what forms of energy are transformed to accomplish the object’s intended task. The students use block diagrams to illustrate the form and state of energy flowing into and out of the process.
Sound Booth Construction
Students explore the sound dampening ability of numerous materials by designing and prototyping model sound booths. As a result, students learn about how sound is reflected, absorbed and travels through various materials, thus giving them an overview of sound dampening, energy absorption and sound propagation in the context of engineering. Students also create blueprints and document their findings in a formal lab report.
Power Your House with Wind
Students learn how engineers harness the energy of the wind to produce power by following the engineering design process as they prototype two types of wind turbines and test to see which works best. Students also learn how engineers decide where to place a wind turbine, and the advantages and disadvantages to using wind power compared to other non-renewable energy sources.
Students use simple household materials, such as PVC piping and compact mirrors, to construct models of laser-based security systems. The protected object (a “mummified troll” or another treasure of your choosing) is placed “on display” in the center of the modeled room and protected by a laser system that utilizes a laser beam reflected off mirrors to trigger a light trip sensor with alarm.
DNA: The Human Body Recipe
As a class, students work through an example showing how DNA provides the “recipe” for making our body proteins. They see how the pattern of nucleotide bases (adenine, thymine, guanine, cytosine) forms the double helix ladder shape of DNA, and serves as the code for the steps required to make genes. They also learn some ways that engineers and scientists are applying their understanding of DNA in our world.
Security System Design
Students apply everything they have learned about light properties and laser technologies to designing, constructing and presenting laser-based security systems that protect the school’s mummified troll. In the associated activity, students “test their mettle” by constructing their security system using a PVC pipe frame, lasers and mirrors. In the lesson, students “go public” by creating informational presentations that explain their systems, and serve as embedded assessment, testing e
Students learn the basics about soil, including its formation, characteristics and importance. They are also introduced to soil profiles and how engineers conduct site investigations to learn about soil quality for development, contamination transport, and assessing the general environmental health of an area.
Scale Model of the Earth
In this activity, students gain an understanding of the layers of the Earth by designing and building a clay model.
Mercalli Scale Illustrated
In this activity, students will learn about the Mercalli Scale for rating earthquakes. Also, students will make a booklet with drawings that represent each rating of the scale.
Seismology in the Classroom
Students learn about seismology by using a sample seismograph constructed out of common classroom materials. The seismograph creates a seismogram based on vibrations caused by moving a ruler. The students work in groups to represent an engineering firm that must analyze the seismograph for how it works and how to read the seismogram it creates.
Earthquake in the Classroom
Students will learn how engineers construct buildings to withstand damage from earthquakes by building their own structure with toothpicks and marshmallows. Students will test how earthquake-proof their buildings are by testing them on an earthquake simulated in a pan of Jell-O®.
Where Am I: Navigation and Satellites
How do we know where we are? What happens if you are completely lost in the middle of nowhere? Does technology provide tools for people lost in their travels? A person cannot usually determine an accurate position just by looking out a window in the middle of the ocean or vast area of land, particularly if it has not been charted before. In this lesson, students explore the concept of triangulation that is used in navigation satellites and global positioning systems designed by engineers. Also,
Getting to the Point
In this lesson, students learn how to determine location by triangulation. We describe the process of triangulation and practice finding your location on a worksheet, in the classroom, and outdoors.