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.
Students learn about the causes, composition and types of volcanoes. They begin with an overview of the Earth’s interior and how volcanoes form. Once students know about how a volcano functions, they learn how engineers predict eruptions. In a class demonstration, students watch and measure a mock volcanic eruption and observe the phases of an eruption, seeing how a volcano gets its shape and provides us with clues to predict a blast.
All Caught Up
Commercial fishing nets often trap unprofitable animals in the process of catching their target species. In the following activity, students will experience the difficulty that fishermen experience while trying to isolate a target species when a variety of animals are found in the area of interest. The class will then discuss the large magnitude of this problem. Students will practice their data acquisition and analysis skills, through the collection of data and processing of this information to
Water, Water Everywhere
Students learn about floods, discovering that different types of floods occur from different water sources, but primarily from heavy rainfall. While floods occur naturally and have benefits such as creating fertile farmland, students learn that with the increase in human population in flood-prone areas, floods are become increasingly problematic. Both natural and manmade factors contribute to floods. Students learn what makes floods dangerous and what engineers design to predict, control and sur
Binary and Communication Systems
Through this activity, students are introduced to the concept of binary coding as a language and its practical applications in digital and communication systems.This project is intended to give students a deeper appreciation for communication systems and an understanding of how binary symbols are used to transmit information.
Design a Recycling Game!
Students will design a game where players try to come up with alternative uses for used products. Students will brainstorm ideas for an effective board game format.
Sound for Sight
Echolocation is the ability to orient by transmitting sound and receiving echoes from objects in the environment. As a result of a Marco-Polo type activity and subsequent lesson, students learn basic concepts of echolocation. They use these concepts to understand how dolphins use echolocation to locate prey, escape predators, navigate their environment, such as avoiding gillnets set by commercial fishing vessels. Students will also learn that dolphin sounds are vibrations created by vocal organs
Do Different Colors Absorb Heat Better?
Students test whether the color of a material affects how much heat it absorbs. Students will place an ice cube in a box made of colored paper (one box per color; white, yellow, red and black), which they will place in the sun. The students will make prediction as to which color will melt the ice cube first. They will record the order and time required for the ice cubes to melt.