The Earth is a Changin’
This lesson introduces and describes the main types of erosion (i.e., chemical, water, wind, glacier and temperature). Students learn examples of each type of erosion and discuss how erosion changes the surface of the Earth. Students also learn why engineers need to be aware of the different types of erosion in order to protect structures and landmarks from the damaging effects erosion can cause. Figure 1 is an excellent illustration of water erosion.
Sliders (for High School)
In this hands-on activity, students learn about two types of friction — static and kinetic — and the equation that governs them. They also measure the coefficient of static friction and the coefficient of kinetic friction experimentally.
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.
This lesson focuses on how food packages are designed and made. Students will learn three of the main functions of a food package. They will learn what is necessary of the design and materials of a package to keep food clean, protect or aid in the physical and chemical changes that can take place in a food, and identify a food appealingly. Then, in the associated activity, the students will have the opportunity to become packaging engineers by designing and building their own food package for a
Edible Rovers – High School
Students act as Mars exploratory rover engineers, designing, building and displaying their edible rovers to a design review. To begin, they evaluate rover equipment and material options to determine which parts might fit in their given NASA budget. With provided parts and material lists, teams analyze their design options and use their findings to design their rovers.
Students gain an understanding of the parts of a plant, plant types and how they produce their own food from sunlight through photosynthesis. They also learn about transpiration, the process by which plants release moisture to the atmosphere. With this understanding, students test the effects of photosynthesis and transpiration by growing a plant from seed. They learn how plants play an important part in maintaining a balanced environment in which the living organisms of the Earth survive. This
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
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
An introduction to our solar system: the planets, our Sun and our Moon. Students begin by learning the history and engineering of space travel. They make simple rockets to acquire a basic understanding Newton’s third law of motion. They explore energy transfer concepts and use renewable solar energy for cooking. They see how engineers design tools, equipment and spacecraft to go where it is too far and too dangerous for humans. They explore the Earth’s water cycle, and gravity as applied to
Energy Sources Research
Fact sheets are provided for several different energy resources as a starting point for students to conduct literature research on the way these systems work and their various pros and cons. Students complete a worksheet for homework or take more time in class for research and presentation of their findings to the class. This approach requires students to learn for themselves and to teach each other – rather than having a teacher lecture about the various sources and systems.
Clean It Up!
Students learn about a special branch of engineering called bioremediation, which is the use of living organisms to aid in the clean-up of pollutant spills. Students learn all about bioremediation and see examples of its importance. In the associated activity, students conduct an experiment and see bioremediation in action!
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.
Making & Breaking: The Rock Cycle
Students learn the components of the rock cycle and how rocks can change over time under the influence of weathering, erosion, pressure and heat. They learn about geotechnical engineering and the role these engineers play in the development of an area of land, the design and placement of new structures, and detection of natural disasters.
Students learn about the types of possible loads, how to calculate ultimate load combinations, and investigate the different sizes for the beams (girders) and columns (piers) of simple bridge design. Students learn the steps that engineers use to design bridges: understanding the problem, determining the potential bridge loads, calculating the highest possible load, and calculating the amount of material needed to resist the loads.
Students learn about the many types of expenses associated with building a bridge. Working like engineers, they estimate the cost for materials for a bridge member of varying sizes. After making calculations, they graph their results to compare how costs change depending on the use of different materials (steel vs. concrete). They conclude by creating a proposal for a city bridge design based on their findings.
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.
Conduction, Convection, and Radiation
With the help of simple, teacher-led demonstration activities, students learn the basic concepts of heat transfer by means of conduction, convection, and radiation. Students then apply these concepts as they work in teams to solve two problems. One problem requires that they maintain the warm temperature of one soda can filled with water at approximately body temperature, and the other problem is to cause an identical soda can of warm water to cool as much as possible during the same thirty-minu
Students learn about wind energy by making a pinwheel to model a wind turbine. Just like engineers, they decide where and how their turbine works best by testing it in different areas of the playground.
Fun with Bernoulli
While we know there is air around us all the time, we normally do not notice the air pressure. The purpose of this is activity is to use Bernoulli’s Principle to manipulate air pressure so we can see its influence on the objects around us.