What Floats Your Boat?
Students use modeling clay, a material that is denser than water and thus ordinarily sinks in water, to discover the principle of buoyancy. They begin by designing and building boats out of clay that will float in water, and then refine their designs so that their boats will carry as great a load (metal washers) as possible. Building a clay boat to hold as much weight as possible is an engineering design problem. Next, they compare amount of water displaced by a lump of clay that sinks to the am
Students examine collisions between two skateboards with different masses to learn about conservation of momentum in collisions.
Swing in Time
Students examine the motion of pendulums and come to understand that the longer the string of the pendulum, the fewer the number of swings in a given time interval. They see that changing the weight on the pendulum does not have an effect on the period. They also observe that changing the angle of release of the pendulum has negligible effect upon the period.
Rolling Blackouts & Environmental Impact – What Are Our Electricity Options?
Through this activity, students come to understand the environmental design considerations required when generating electricity. The electric power that we use every day at home and work is usually 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 inp
Population Growth in Yeasts
This lesson is the second of two that explore cellular respiration and population growth in yeasts. In the first lesson, students set up a simple way to indirectly observe and quantify the amount of respiration occurring in yeast-molasses cultures. Based on questions that arose during the first lesson and its associated activity, in this lesson students work in small groups to design experiments that will determine how environmental factors affect yeast population growth.
Ramp and Review
In this hands-on activity — rolling a ball down an incline and having it collide into a cup — the concepts of mechanical energy, work and power, momentum, and friction are all demonstrated. During the activity, students take measurements and use equations that describe these energy of motion concepts to calculate unknown variables, and review the relationships between these concepts.
Learning Imaging Techniques!
During this activity, students will be introduced to the concepts of the challenge. They will generate ideas for solving the grand challenge first independently, then in small groups. Finally, as a class, students will compile their ideas with a visual as a learning supplement.
Seismic Waves: How Earthquakes Move the Earth
Students learn about the types of seismic waves produced by earthquakes and how they move the Earth. The dangers of earthquakes are presented as well as the necessity for engineers to design structures for earthquake-prone areas that are able to withstand the forces of seismic waves. Students learn how engineers build shake tables that simulate the ground motions of the Earth caused by seismic waves in order to test the seismic performance of buildings.
Students will use their knowledge of scales and areas to cut out rectangular paper pieces to represent caverns to scale with the maps. These paper cutouts can then be placed on the maps to help students decide where the best locations.
Particle Sensing: The Coulter Counter
Students are presented with a short lesson on the Coulter principle — an electronic method to detect microscopic particles and determine their concentration in fluid. Depending on the focus of study, students can investigate the industrial and medical applications of particle detection, the physics of fluid flow and electric current through the apparatus, or the chemistry of the electrolytes used in the apparatus.
Heredity Mix ’n Match
Students randomly select jelly beans (or other candy) that represent genes for several human traits such as tongue-rolling ability and eye color. Then, working in pairs (preferably of mixed gender), students randomly choose new pairs of jelly beans from those corresponding to their own genotypes. The new pairs are placed on toothpicks to represent the chromosomes of the couple’s offspring. Finally, students compare genotypes and phenotypes of parents and offspring for all the “couples” in
The Benefits of Biodiversity
First, students toss coins to determine what traits a set of mouse parents possess, such as fur color, body size, heat tolerance, and running speed. Next they use coin tossing to determine the traits a mouse pup born to these parents possesses. These physical features are then compared to features that would be most adaptive in several different environmental conditions. Finally, students consider what would happen to the mouse offspring if those environmental conditions were to change: which mi
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,
Designing Medical Devices for the Ear
Students are introduced to engineering, and more specifically, to biomedical engineering and the engineering design process through a short lecture and interactive, hands-on activity (approximately 30 minutes long), where students design their own medical device for retrieving foreign bodies from the ear canal. In this lesson, the teacher first reviews the basics of ear anatomy then discusses how ear infections occur and how they are treated. Following antibiotic treatment, the most common treat
"Put your books away,"
This issue of Middle Ground looks at different forms of assessment.,Volume 12, Number 2
Solar Paths: An International and Integrated Look at the Sun and Seasons
Some of the most difficult concepts for students to understand in Earth science are the ideas and explanations related to the Sun and seasons. The daily rotation of the Earth causes day and night, and the differences of how it is observed at different locations on Earth is a concept that is a challenge for many middle-school-age students to grasp. This article describes how to present these ideas to students using an international perspective and integrated approach that includes myth, archaeolo
Downhill Science: Alpine Skiing
The following resource is from Lessonopoly, which has created student activities and lesson plans to support the video series, Science of the Olympic Winter Games, created by NBC Learn and the National Science Foundation. Featuring exclusive footage from NBC Sports and contributions from Olympic athletes and NSF scientists, the series will help teach your students valuable scientific concepts. In this activity, students will explore the physics of alpine skiing by simulating a downhill run and r
Everyday Engineering: What makes a squirt gun squirt?
You may not think of engineering and squirt guns in the same sentence. However, like many examples of engineering design, the squirt gun pump mechanism is uncomplicated, yet elegant, and very inexpensive to manufacture. The design is widely used because of its simplicity and low cost. With only a few moving parts, it is able to deliver a stream of water, a spray of cleanser, or a squirt of liquid soap. In this article, the authors will examine how these simple, everyday pumps operate. In additio
Geologic Time: Eons, Eras, and Epochs
This resource guide from the Middle School Portal 2 project, written specifically for teachers, provides links to exemplary resources including background information, lessons, career information, and related national science education standards. This publication contains resources designed to do three things. The first is to complement teacher content knowledge and its relationship to the nature of geologic science. Geology is not a laboratory based science lending itself to traditional notions
This video gives a quick glimpse of life and times of the mayfly on the Mississippi. It's life span is only 24 hours long. This video could also be used with a lesson about life cycles. Time 2:29