Dam Pass or Fail
Students conduct Internet research to investigate the purpose and current functioning status of some of the largest dams throughout the world. They investigate the success or failure of eight dams and complete a worksheet. While researching the dams, they also gain an understanding of the scale of these structures by recording and comparing their reservoir capacities. Students come to understand that dams, like all engineered structures, have a finite lifespan and require ongoing maintenance and
Your River’s Health
Students perform a macroinvertebrate survey to gauge the health of a local river. They collect water samples and count macroinvertebrates to learn how the health of a river’s ecosystem can be determined by its river insect population.
Repairing Broken Bones
Students learn about how biomedical engineers aid doctors in repairing severely broken bones. They learn about using pins, plates, rods and screws to repair fractures. They do this by designing, creating and testing their own prototype devices to repair broken turkey bones.
Passive Solar Design
Students are introduced to passive solar design for buildings — an approach that uses the sun’s energy and the surrounding climate to provide natural heating and cooling. They learn about some of the disadvantage of conventional heating and cooling and how engineers incorporate passive solar designs into our buildings for improved efficiency.
Through eight lessons, students are introduced to many facets of dams, including their basic components, the common types (all designed to resist strong forces), their primary benefits (electricity generation, water supply, flood control, irrigation, recreation), and their importance (historically, currently and globally). Through an introduction to kinetic and potential energy, students come to understand how dams generate electricity. They learn about the structure, function and purpose of loc
Mix It Up
This lesson plan introduces the properties of mixtures and solutions. A class demonstration gives the students the opportunity to compare and contrast the physical characteristics of a few simple mixtures and solutions. Students discuss the separation of mixtures and solutions back into their original components as well as different engineering applications of mixtures and solutions.
What Will Biodegrade?
Students investigate what types of materials biodegrade in the soil, and learn what happens to their trash after they throw it away. The concepts of landfills and compost piles will be explained, and the students will have an opportunity to create their own miniature landfill in which the difference between organic and inorganic waste will become clear.
Save Our City!
Students learn about various natural hazards and specific methods engineers use to prevent these hazards from becoming natural disasters. They study a hypothetical map of an area covered with natural hazards and decide where to place natural disaster prevention devices by applying their critical thinking skills and an understanding of the causes of natural disasters.
Population Density: How Much Space Do You Have?
Students learn about population density within environments and ecosystems. They determine the density of a population and think about why population density and distribution information is useful to engineers for city planning and design as well as for resource allocation.
Students are introduced to our Sun as they explore its composition, what is happening inside it, its relationship to our planet (our energy source), and the ways engineers help us learn about it.
Pictures Please – Traveling Light
In this lesson, students learn that light travels in a straight line from a light source and that ray diagrams help us understand how an image will be created by a lens. In the accompanying activity, students explore the concepts behind the workings of a pinhole camera.
Just Plane Simple
This lesson introduces students to three of the six simple machines used by many engineers. These machines include the inclined plane, the wedge and the screw. In general, engineers use the inclined plane to lift heavy loads, the wedge to cut materials apart, and the screw to convert rotational motion into linear movement. Furthermore, the mechanical advantage describes how easily each machine can do work and is determined by its physical dimensions.
This lesson introduces students to the idea of biomimicry — or looking to nature for engineering ideas. Biomimicry involves solving human problems by mimicking natural solutions, and it works well because the solutions exist naturally. There are numerous examples of useful applications of biomimicry, and in this lesson we look at a few fun examples.
Light vs. Heat Bulbs
Students measure the light output and temperature (as a measure of heat output) for three types of light bulbs to identify why some light bulbs are more efficient (more light with less energy) than others.
We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!
Students discuss several human reproductive technologies available today — pregnancy ultrasound, amniocentesis, in-vitro fertilization and labor anesthetics. They learn how each technology works, and that these are ways engineers have worked to improve the health of expecting mothers and babies.
Students learn the connections between the science of sound waves and engineering design for sound environments. Through three lessons, students come to better understand sound waves, including how they change with distance, travel through different mediums, and are enhanced or mitigated in designed sound environments. Students are introduced to audio engineers who use their expert scientific knowledge to manipulate sound for the production of music and film. They learn how the invention of the
Riding the Radio Waves
Through this lesson students learn how AM radios work through basic concepts about waves and magnetic fields. Waves are first introduced by establishing the difference between transverse and longitudinal waves, as well as identifying the amplitude and frequency of a given waveform. Students then learn general concepts about magnetic fields, leading into how radio waves are created and transmitted. Several demonstrations can be performed in order to help students better understand these concepts.
This activity is a teacher-led demonstration of continental drift and includes a math worksheet for students involving the calculation of continental drift over time. Students will understand what continental drift is, why it occurs, and how earthquakes occur because of it.
Build it Better!
Students use their knowledge of tornadoes and damage. The students will work in groups to design a structure that will withstand and protect people from tornadoes. Each group will create a poster with the name of their engineering firm and a picture of their structure. Finally, each group will present their posters to the class.
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.