Students reinforce their knowledge that DNA is the genetic material for all living things by modeling it using toothpicks and gumdrops that represent the four biochemicals (adenine, thiamine, guanine, and cytosine) that pair with each other in a specific pattern, making a double helix. They investigate specific DNA sequences that code for certain physical characteristics such as eye and hair color. Student teams trade DNA "strands" and de-code the genetic sequences to determine the physical char
Laser Light Properties: Protecting the Mummified Troll!
Students learn and use the properties of light to solve the following challenge: “A mummified troll was discovered this summer at our school and it has generated lots of interest worldwide. The principal asked us, the technology classes, to design a security system that alerts the police if someone tries to pilfer our prized possession. How can we construct a system that allows visitors to view our artifact during the day, but invisibly protects it at night in a cost-effective way?”
Induced EMF in a coil of wire
Students use a simple set up consisting of a coil of wire and a magnet to visualize induced EMF. First, students move a coil of wire near a magnet and observe the voltage that results. They then experiment with moving the wire, magnet, and a second, current carrying coil. Students connect the coil to a circuit and the current from the induced EMF charges a conductor.
This lesson discusses solenoids. Students learn how to calculate the magnetic field along the axis of a solenoid and complete an activity exploring the magnetic field of a metal slinky. Solenoids form the basis for the magnet of an MRI. Exploring the properties of this solenoid helps students understand the MRI machine.
Magnetic Fields Matter
This lesson introduces students to the effects of magnetic fields in matter addressing permanent magnets, diamagnetism, paramagnetism, ferromagnetism, and magnetization. First students must compare the magnetic field of a solenoid to the magnetic field of a permanent magnet. Students then learn the response of diamagnetic, paramagnetic, and ferromagnetic material to a magnetic field. Now aware of the mechanism causing a solid to respond to a field, students learn how to measure the response by l
Cutting Through Soil
Students pretend they are agricultural engineers during the colonial period and design a miniature plow that cuts through a “field” of soil. They are introduced to the engineering design process and learn of several famous historical figures who contributed to plow design.
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.
Don’t Confuse Your Qs!
Students investigate the difference between qualitative and quantitative measurements and observations. By describing objects both qualitatively and quantitatively, students learn that both types of information are required for complete descriptions. Students discuss various the characteristics of many objects, demonstrating how engineers use both qualitative and quantitative information in product design.
Through five lessons, students are introduced to all facets of the rock cycle. Topics include rock and mineral types, material stresses and weathering, geologic time and fossil formation, the Earth’s crust and tectonic plates, and soil formation and composition. Lessons are in the context of the related impact on humans in the form of roadway and tunnel design and construction, natural disasters, environmental site assessment for building structures, and measurement instrumentation and tools.
Working as engineering teams, students design and create model beam bridges using plastic drinking straws and tape as their construction materials. Their goal is to build the strongest bridge with a truss pattern of their own design, while meeting the design criteria and constraints. They experiment with different geometric shapes and determine how shapes affect the strength of materials.
Students learn that wind and storms can form at the boundaries of interacting high and low pressure air masses. They learn the distinguishing features of the four main types of weather fronts (warm fronts, cold fronts, stationary fronts and occluded fronts) and how these fronts are depicted on a surface weather analysis, or weather map. Students also learn several different ways that engineers help with storm prediction, analysis and protection.
Students will be challenged to design and construct a tower out of newspaper. They will have limited supplies including newspaper, tape, and scissors since engineers are often restricted by economic reasons as to how much material they can use in their building. The students will be building for height and stability, and their towers must be designed to withstand a lateral “wind” load.
Let Your Ears do the Walking
In the previous lesson, students learned about the issue of bycatching by fisheries and how it affects marine habitats. Dolphins are one of the main species affected by bycatching. Dolphins use echolocation to identify the location of objects in the water, but they have difficulty identifying nets, and thus can be caught accidentally. Students will learn how echolocation works, why certain animals use it to determine the size, shape, and distance of objects, and how humans can potentially take a
Simple Machines and Modern Day Engineering Analogies
Students apply the mechanical advantages and problem-solving capabilities of six types of simple machines (wedge, wheel and axle, lever, inclined plane, screw, pulley) as they discuss modern structures in the spirit of the engineers and builders of the great pyramids. While learning the steps of the engineering design process, students practice teamwork, creativity and problem solving.
Does Contact Area Matter?
Using the same method for measuring friction that was used in the previous lesson (Discovering Friction), students design and conduct an experiment to determine if the amount of area over which an object contacts a surface it is moving across affects the amount of friction encountered.
Rocks, Rocks, Rocks
Student teams will test rocks to identify and record rock properties such as luster, hardness, color, etc., and classify rocks as igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. They will complete a worksheet table with all of their rock properties, and then answer some worksheet questions to deepen their understanding of rock properties and relate them to the cavern design problem.
Asteroid Impact is an 8-10 class long (350-450 min) earth science curricular unit where student teams are posed with the scenario that an asteroid will impact earth. They must design the location and size of underground caverns to save the people from uninhabitable earth for one year. Driven by this adventure scenario, student teams (1) explore general and geological maps, (2) determine the area of their classroom to help determine the cavern size required, (3) learn about map scales, (4) test r
Testing the Caverns - Optional
This activity provides a fun, activity-based closure to the Asteroid Impact unit. Students build model caverns using paper mache or clay and bury them in a tray of sand. Next, they test the models by dropping balls onto them to simulate an asteroid hitting the earth. By molding paper mache around a balloon to form a dome, or around a small cardboard box to form a rectangular structure, students will be able to build their caverns.
Forces on the Human Molecule
Students will conduct several simple lab activities to learn about the five fundamental load types that can act on structures: tension, compression, shear, bending, and torsion. In this activity, students will play the role of molecules in a beam subject to various loading schemes.
The invasion has taken place and we need to find a new home. To ensure your survival beyond earth’s occupation you must design a shelter that can be built on another planet. Students will research the characteristics of a planet of their choice. They will design a shelter that will allow them to survive on a new planet, and explain it in words.