Constructing Sonoran Desert Food Chains and Food Webs
Is the food chain shown above accurate? Does the first link depict a producer, the second link a herbivore, and the third link an omnivore / carnivore? Students must correctly determine whether a species is a producer or consumer, and what type of consumer; herbivore, omnivore, or carnivore. Students will be provided with a list of Sonoran Desert species and asked to construct, within their groups, several food chains. These food chains will then be used to construct a food web. In order to comp
Design Step 4: Engineering Analysis
Engineering analysis distinguishes true engineering design from “tinkering.” In this activity, students are guided through an example engineering analysis scenario for a scooter. Then they perform a similar analysis on the design solutions they brainstormed in the previous activity in this unit. At activity conclusion, students should be able to defend one most-promising possible solution to their design challenge. (Note: Conduct this activity in the context of a design project that students
Where Has All the Water Gone?
Students learn about the Earth’s water cycle, especially about evaporation. Once a dam is constructed, its reservoir becomes a part of the region’s natural hydrologic cycle by receiving precipitation, storing runoff water and evaporating water. Although almost impossible to see, and not as familiar to most people as precipitation, evaporation plays a critical role in the hydrologic cycle, and is especially of interest to engineers designing new dams and reservoirs, such as those that Splash
Solid, Liquid or Gas?
Students are given a variety of materials and asked to identify if each material as a solid, liquid or gas. They use their five senses — sight, sound, smell, texture and taste — to identify the other characteristics of each item.
In this activity, students explore the effect of chemical erosion on statues and monuments. They use chalk to see what happens when limestone is placed in liquids with different pH values. They also learn several things that engineers are doing to reduce the effects of acid rain.
In this activity, students will design a process that removes the most iron from the cereal. This activity is meant for the students to experiment with different materials using what they know about iron, magnets, and forces to design the best process for removing the iron from the cereal.
The lesson begins by introducing Olympics as the unit theme. The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the techniques of engineering problem solving. Specific techniques covered in the lesson include brainstorming and the engineering design process. The importance of thinking out of the box is also stressed to show that while some tasks seem impossible, they can be done. This introduction includes a discussion of the engineering required to build grand, often complex, Olympic event
Animals and Engineering
Students are introduced to the classification of animals and animal interactions. Students also learn why engineers need to know about animals and how they use that knowledge to design technologies that help other animals and/or humans. This lesson is part of a series of six lessons in which students use their growing understanding of various environments and the engineering design process, to design and create their own model biodome ecosystems.
Go with the Energy Flow
Students learn about energy and nutrient flow in various biosphere climates and environments. They learn about herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, food chains and food webs, seeing the interdependence between producers, consumers and decomposers. Students are introduced to the roles of the hydrologic (water), carbon, and nitrogen cycles in sustaining the worlds’ ecosystems so living organisms survive. This lesson is part of a series of six lessons in which students use their growing understandi
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 explore the biosphere's environments and ecosystems, learning along the way about the plants, animals, resources and natural cycles of our planet. Over the course of lessons 2-6, students use their growing understanding of various environments and the engineering design process to design and create their own model biodome ecosystems - exploring energy and nutrient flows, basic needs of plants and animals, and decomposers. Students learn about food chains and food webs. They are introduc
The Fundamental Building Blocks of Matter
This lesson plan explores the fundamentals of atoms and their structure. The building blocks of matter (protons, electrons, neutrons) are covered in detail. Students think about how atoms and molecules can influence new technologies developed by engineers.
Beyond the Milky Way
When we look at the night sky, we see stars and the nearby planets of our own solar system. Many of those stars are actually distant galaxies and glowing clouds of dust and gases called nebulae. The universe is an immense space with distances measured in light years. The more we learn about the universe beyond our solar system, the more we realize we do not know. Students are introduced to the basic known facts about the universe, and how engineers help us explore the many mysteries of space.
Amusement Park Ride: Ups and Downs in Design
Students design, build and test model roller coasters using foam tubing. The design process integrates energy concepts as they test and evaluate designs that address the task as an engineer would. The goal is for students to understand the basics of engineering design associated with kinetic and potential energy to build an optimal roller coaster. The marble starts with potential energy that is converted to kinetic energy as it moves along the track. The diameter of the loops that the marble tra
Life in Space: The International Space Station
Students are introduced to the International Space Station (ISS) with information about its structure, operation and key experiments. The ISS itself is an experiment in international cooperation to explore the potential for humans to live in space. The space station features state-of-the-art science and engineering laboratories to conduct research in medicine, materials and fundamental science to benefit people on Earth as well as people who will live in space in the future.
Building Roller Coasters
Students build their own roller coasters using pipe insulation and marbles, and then analyze them using principles of physics. They examine conversions between kinetic and potential energy and frictional effects to design roller coasters that are completely driven by gravity. A class competition is then held to determine the most innovative and successful roller coasters.
Rolling Blackouts & Environmental Impact – What are our Electricity Options?
The goal is for the students to understand the environmental design considerations required when generating electricity. The electric power that we use every day at home and work is generated by a variety of power plants. Power plants are engineered to utilize the conversion of one form of energy to another. The main components of a power plant are an input source of energy that is used to turn large turbines, and a method to convert the turbine rotation into electricity. The input sources of en
Designing a Package that Works
The goal is for students to understand the basics of engineering associated with the packaging of items to preserve, market, and safely deliver products. The packaging for each type of use varies. While observing and thinking about all packaging is encouraged, this activity focuses on packaging for transporting goods (shipping).
Mars and Jupiter
Students explore Mars and Jupiter, the fourth and fifth planets from the Sun. They learn some of the unique characteristics of these planets. They also learn how engineers help us learn about these planets with the design and development of telescopes, deep space antennas, spacecraft and planetary rovers.
Students learn how using a spectrograph helps us understand the composition of light sources. Using simple materials and holographic diffraction gratings (available online at a variety of sites, including Edmund Scientifics and the Rainbow Symphony Store for ~50 cents each), students create and customize their own spectrographs - just like engineers. They gather data about different light sources, make comparisons between sources, and theorize about their composition. Before building spectrograp