Students learn some basic facts about asteroids in our solar system, mainly about the size of asteroids and how that relates to the potential danger of an asteroid colliding with the Earth. Students are briefly introduced to the destruction that would ensue should a large asteroid hit, as it did 65 million years ago.
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
Student are introduced to rivers, and to the components of the water cycle. They think about the effects of communities, sidewalks and roads on the natural flow of rainwater. Students also learn about the role of engineering in community planning and protecting our natural resources.
Students reinforce their understanding of rocks, the rock cycle, and geotechnical engineering by playing a trivia game. They work in groups to prepare Jeopardy-type trivia questions (answers) and compete against each other to demonstrate their knowledge of rocks and engineering.
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.
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.
Hot Problem Solving
Student teams follow the steps of the engineering design process to meet the challenge of getting their entire class from one location on the playground to the sidewalk without touching the ground between. The class develops a well thought-out plan while following the steps of the engineering design process. Then, they test their solution by going outside and trying it out. Through the post-activity assessment, they compare their problem-solving experience to real life engineering challenges, su
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.
Touch and Discover
Students work in pairs or small groups to identify and categorize various objects. One student is blindfolded and the other student chooses five objects for their partner to identify. The blindfolded student has to describe and try to identify the object based solely on touch. Both students then record their data, describing the objects first as human-made or natural, then living or non-living, and finally physical characteristics.
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.