The Platonic Realms website is a project initiated by a small group of math and math education graduate students, led by B. Sidney Smith, at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The group's goal is "to provide high-quality mathematical content for secondary-school and college students that was free, motivational, and instructional." The introductory page features a historical note, a daily quotation, a daily mathematics challenge, humorous articles, and a "math moment" which uses multi-media t
Educause: Educating the Net Generation
Educause, a nonprofit organization "whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology," has made available this video file of a talk by their Vice President entitled "Educating the Net Generation" The online abstract describes the presentation as an exploration of "the implications of the Net Generation for colleges and universities as well as how to address the generation gap between faculty or administrators and the Net Gen." The presentati
FCC History Project
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has initiated this history project in an effort to raise public awareness of "the extent to which every area of their life is intertwined with the communications technologies the FCC has responsibility to regulate." Aside from the commonly known FCC regulations regarding television and regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable, the FCC authorization rules also protect individuals when we use
The Paleontological Society
The Paleontological Society, an international non-profit organization founded in 1908, created this Web site devoted to the advancements in paleontology. The site allows paleontologists access to abstracts in a few journals including Paleobiology. Prospective students will discover grant opportunities. Media representatives with questions about the history of life on earth can find contacts for paleontologists. Scientists can also learn about the society's Distinguished Lecture Program, which fe
This is the first in a series of articles that considers the ongoing struggle between humans and computers for chess dominance. The author is a statistician who has been analyzing this relationship for several years, and he argues that computers may never surpass humans. In addition to supporting his argument with empirical evidence, he provides a link to his Web site that includes much more data and historical trends. Another article on the Chessbase Web site describes the November 2003 champio
Stop the Stretching
Students learn about composite materials, tension as a force and how they act on structural components through the design and testing of strips of plastic chair webbing.
Make an Alarm!
After reading the story "Dear Mr. Henshaw" by Beverly Cleary, students create an alarm system for something in the classroom, just as the main character Leigh does to protect his lunchbox from thieves. Students learn about alarms and use their creativity to devise an alarm system to protect their lockers, desk, or classroom door. Note: this activity can also be done without reading "Dear Mr. Henshaw."
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,