One World Ocean
In this activity, students learn about ocean currents and the difference between salt and fresh water. They use colored ice cubes to see how cold and warm water mix and how this mixing causes currents. Also, students learn how surface currents occur due to wind streams. Lastly, they learn how fresh water floats on top of salt water, the difference between water in the ocean and fresh water throughout the planet, and how engineers are involved in the design of ocean water systems for human use.
Fresh or Salty?
Between 70 and 75% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water and there exists still more water in the atmosphere and underground in aquifers. In this lesson, students learn about water bodies on the planet Earth and their various uses and qualities. They will learn about several ways that engineers are working to maintain and conserve water sources. They will also think about their role in water conservation.
Sea to Sky
In this lesson, students learn about major landforms (e.g., mountains, rivers, plains, valleys, canyons and plateaus) and how they occur on the Earth’s surface. They learn about the civil and geotechnical engineering applications of geology and landforms, including the design of transportation systems, mining, mapping and measuring natural hazards.
In this activity, students examine various materials and investigate how they interact with light. Students use five new vocabulary words (translucent, transparent, opaque, reflection and refraction) to describe how light interacts with the objects.
The Puck Stops Here
After learning about transfer of energy, specifically the loss of kinetic energy to friction, students get a chance to test friction. In groups they are given a wooden block, different fabrics, and weights and asked to design the “best” puck. The class first needs to define what makes the “best” puck. Each group should realize that the most desirable puck will travel the furthest, thus the puck with the least amount of friction. In the context of hockey the “best” puck is the one tha
Students are introduced to natural disasters, and learn the difference between natural hazards and natural disasters. They discover the many types of natural hazards — avalanche, earthquake, flood, forest fire, hurricane, landslide, thunderstorm, tornado, tsunami and volcano — as well as specific examples of natural disasters. Students also explore why understanding these natural events is important to engineers and everyone’s survival on our planet.
Building a Fancy Spectrograph
Students create and decorate their own spectrographs using simple materials and holographic diffraction gratings. A holographic diffraction grating acts like a prism, showing the visual components of light. After building the spectrographs, students observe the spectra of different light sources as homework.
My Mechanical Ear Can Hear!
Students are introduced to various types of hearing impairments and the types of biomedical devices that engineers have designed to aid people with this physical disability.
Engineers Speak for the Trees
Students begin by reading Dr. Seuss’ "The Lorax" as an example of how overdevelopment can cause long-lasting environmental destruction. Students discuss how to balance the needs of the environment with the needs of human industry. Student teams are asked to serve as natural resource engineers, city planning engineers and civil engineers with the task to replant the nearly destroyed forest and develop a sustainable community design that can co-exist with the re-established natural area.
Audio Engineers: Sound Weavers
Students are introduced to audio engineers, discovering the type of environment in which they work and exactly what they do on a day-to-day basis. Students come to realize that audio engineers help produce their favorite music and movies.
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.
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.
Strength of Materials
Students learn about the variety of materials used by engineers in the design and construction of modern bridges. They also find out about the material properties important to bridge construction and consider the advantages and disadvantages of steel and concrete as common bridge-building materials to handle compressive and tensile forces.
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
How to be a Great Navigator!
In this lesson, students will learn how great navigators of the past stayed on course — that is, the historical methods of navigation. The concepts of dead reckoning and celestial navigation are discussed.
All Caught Up: Bycatching and Design
Bycatch, the unintended capture of animals in commercial fishing gear, is one of the hottest topics in marine conservation today. About 25% of the entire global catch is bycatch. This surprisingly high level of bycatch is responsible for the decline of hundreds of thousands of dolphins, whales, porpoises, seabirds and sea turtles each year. Through this curricular unit, students will analyze the significance of bycatch in the global ecosystem and propose solutions to help reduce bycatch. Student
Energetic Musical Instruments
Students will learn to apply the principles and concepts associated with energy and the transfer of energy in an engineering context through the designing and making of a musical instrument. The students must choose from a variety of supplies presented to them to make an instrument capable of producing three different tones. After the accomplishment of the design, students must explain the energy transfer mechanism in sufficient detail and describe how they could make their instruments better.
You’re a Pushover!
The purpose of this activity is to demonstrate Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion, which is the physical law that governs thrust in aircraft. The students will do several activities that show that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Leaning Tower of Pasta
Using spaghetti and marshmallows, students experiment with different structures to determine which ones are able to handle the greatest amount of load. Their experiments help them to further understand the effects that compression and tension forces have with respect to the strength of structures. Spaghetti cannot hold much tension or compression; therefore, it breaks very easily. Marshmallows handle compression well, but do not hold up to tension.
How Tall Are We?
Kindergartners measure each other's height using large building blocks, then visit a 2nd and a 4th grade class to measure those students. They can also measure adults in the school community. Results are displayed in age-appropriate bar graphs (paper cut-outs of miniature building blocks glued on paper to form a bar graph) comparing the different age groups. The activities that comprise this lesson help students develop the concepts and vocabulary to describe, in a non-ambiguous way, how height