The Fundamental Building Blocks of Matter
This lesson plan explores the fundamentals of atoms and their structure. The building blocks of matter (protons, electrons, neutrons) are covered in detail. Students think about how atoms and molecules can influence new technologies developed by engineers.
Beyond the Milky Way
When we look at the night sky, we see stars and the nearby planets of our own solar system. Many of those stars are actually distant galaxies and glowing clouds of dust and gases called nebulae. The universe is an immense space with distances measured in light years. The more we learn about the universe beyond our solar system, the more we realize we do not know. Students are introduced to the basic known facts about the universe, and how engineers help us explore the many mysteries of space.
Mars and Jupiter
Students explore Mars and Jupiter, the fourth and fifth planets from the Sun. They learn some of the unique characteristics of these planets. They also learn how engineers help us learn about these planets with the design and development of telescopes, deep space antennas, spacecraft and planetary rovers.
A Simple Solution for the Circus
In this activity, students are challenged to design a contraption using simple machines to move a circus elephant into a rail car. After students consider their audience and constraints, they work in groups to brainstorm ideas and select one concept to communicate to the class.
Energy Intelligence Agency
An active way for students to find a few critical facts about how we use energy and how much energy we use. Each student has a “clue”, some of which are pertinent energy facts and others are silly statements that are clearly not related. The students ask each other for clues and mingle until they have collected all the facts they need. This provides a more interactive way to communicate energy statistics without a lecture and introduction with board work. The goal is to introduce students to
Corn for Fuel?!
In this activity, students examine how to grow plants the most efficiently. They imagine that they are designing a biofuels production facility and need to know how to efficiently grow plants to use in this facility. As a means of solving this design problem, they plan a scientific experiment in which they investigate how a given variable (of their choice) affects plant growth. They then make predictions about the outcomes and record their observations after two weeks regarding the condition of
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.
The Mummified Troll: Devising a Protection Plan
Students are introduced to the parameters of an engineering challenge in which their principal has asked them to devise an invisible security system to cost-effectively protect a treasured mummified troll, while still allowing for visitor viewing during the day. Students generate ideas for solving the grand challenge, first independently, then in small groups, and finally, compiled as a class.
Learning Light’s Properties
Students learn the basic properties of light — the concepts of light absorption, transmission, reflection and refraction, as well as the behavior of light during interference. Lecture information briefly addresses the electromagnetic spectrum and then provides more in-depth information on visible light. With this knowledge, students better understand lasers and are better prepared to design a security system for the mummified troll.
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
Physics is the scientific study of the basic principles of the universe, including matter, energy, motion and force, and their interactions. Major topics include classical mechanics, thermodynamics, light and optics, electromagnetism and relativity.
Serial Dilution of Food Coloring Dye
Students use dyes to explore serial dilution, an important technique in physical science and engineering. Students systematically dilute solutions of food coloring with pure water. They observe how the color intensity, or saturation, of each subsequent solution changes. They also keep a running calculation of the concentration of drops per ml water. They apply what they learn to discussions of biomedical engineers working with cells.
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.
Designing a Spectroscopy Mission
Students find and calculate the angle that light is transmitted through a holographic diffraction grating using trigonometry. After finding this angle, student teams design and build their own spectrographs, researching and designing a ground- or space-based mission using their creation. At project end, teams present their findings to the class, as if they were making an engineering conference presentation. Student must have completed the associated Building a Fancy Spectrograph activity before
Students explore heat transfer and energy efficiency using the context of energy efficient houses. They gain a solid understanding of the three types of heat transfer: radiation, convection and conduction, which are explained in detail and related to the real world. They learn about the many ways solar energy is used as a renewable energy source to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses and operating costs. Students also explore ways in which a device can capitalize on the methods of heat tran
Dress for Success
In this design activity, students investigate materials engineering as it applies to weather and clothing. Teams design and analyze different combinations of materials for effectiveness in specific weather conditions. Analysis includes simulation of temperature, wind and wetness elements, as well as the functionality and durability of final prototypes.
Stack It Up!
Students analyze and begin to design a pyramid. Working in engineering teams, they perform calculations to determine the area of the pyramid base, stone block volumes, and the number of blocks required for their pyramid base. They make a scaled drawing of the pyramid using graph paper.
In this activity, students are introduced to faults. They will learn about different kinds of faults and understand their relationship to earthquakes. The students will build cardboard models of the three different types of faults as they learn about how earthquakes are formed.
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®.
Students learn about the structure of the earth and how an earthquake happens. In one activity, students make a model of the earth including all of its layers. In a teacher-led demonstration, students learn about continental drift. In another activity, students create models demonstrating the different types of faults.