The Challenge Question
This lesson introduces the “Walk the Line” Challenge question. Students are asked to journal responses to the question and brainstorm what information they will need to answer the question. The ideas are shared with the class (or in pairs and then to the class, if class size is large). Students then read an interview with an engineer to gain a professional perspective on linear data sets and best-fit lines. Students brainstorm any additional ideas and add them to the list they produced alrea
Bernoulli’s principle relates the pressure of a fluid to its elevation and its speed. Bernoulli’s equation can be used to approximate these parameters in water, air or any fluid that has very low viscosity. Students learn about the relationships between the components of the Bernoulli equation through real-life engineering examples and practice problems.
Swim to and from the Sea!
Students are introduced to the basic biology behind Pacific salmon migration and the many engineered Columbia River dam structures that aid in their passage through the river’s hydroelectric dams. Students apply what they learn about the salmon life cycle as they think of devices and modifications that might be implemented at dams to aid in the natural cycle of fish migration, and as they make (hypothetical) Splash Engineering presentations about their proposed fish mitigation solutions for Bi
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
Needing Illumination – Investigating Light
This is the first lesson of this unit to introduce light. Lessons 1-5 focus on sound, while 6-9 focus on light. In this lesson, students learn the five words that describe how light interacts with objects: “transparent,” “translucent,” “opaque,” “reflection” and “refraction.”
In this activity, students act as power engineers by specifying the power plants to build for a community. They are given a budget, an expected power demand from the community, and different power plant options with corresponding environmental effects. They can work through this scenario as a class or on their own.
Cleaning Up with Decomposers
Students investigate decomposers and the role of decomposers in maintaining the flow of nutrients in an environment. Students also learn how engineers use decomposers to help clean up wastes in a process known as bioremediation. This lesson concludes 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.
Students are introduced to chemical engineering and learn about its many different applications. They are provided with a basic introduction to matter and its different properties and states. An associated hands-on activity gives students a chance to test their knowledge of the states of matter and how to make observations using their five senses: touch, smell, sound, sight and taste.
Plant Cycles: Photosynthesis & Transpiration
What do plants need? Students examine the effects of light and air on green plants, learning the processes of photosynthesis and transpiration. Student teams plant seeds, placing some in sunlight and others in darkness. They make predictions about the outcomes and record ongoing observations of the condition of the stems, leaves and roots. Then, several healthy plants are placed in glass jars with lids overnight. Condensation forms, illustrating the process of transpiration, or the release of mo
Environments and Ecosystems
Students explore the biosphere and its associated environments and ecosystems in the context of creating a model ecosystem, learning along the way about the animals and resources. Students investigate different types of ecosystems, learn new vocabulary, and consider why a solid understanding of one’s environment and the interdependence of an ecosystem can inform the choices we make and the way we engineer our communities. This lesson is part of a series of six lessons in which students use the
Engineering in Reverse!
Students learn about the process of reverse engineering and how this technique is used to improve upon technology. In this activity, students analyze a push-toy and draw a diagram of the predicted mechanisms inside the toy. Then, they disassemble the toy and draw the actual inner mechanisms. By understanding how the push-toy functions, students make suggestions for improvement, such as cost effectiveness, improved functionality, ecological friendliness and any additional functionality they deter
Students do work by lifting a known mass over a period of time. The mass and measured distance and time is used to calculate force, work, energy and power in metric units. The students’ power is then compared to horse power and the power required to light a 60 W light bulb.
How Mountains are Formed
Students investigate how mountains are formed. Concepts include the composition and structure of the Earth’s tectonic plates and tectonic plate boundaries, with an emphasis on plate convergence as it relates to mountain formation. Students learn that geotechnical engineers design technologies to measure movement of tectonic plates and mountain formation, as well as design to alter the mountain environment to create safe and dependable roadways and tunnels.
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.
Students use a simple pH indicator to measure how much CO2 is produced during respiration, at rest and after exercising. They begin by comparing some common household solutions in order to determine the color change of the indicator. They review the concepts of pH and respiration and extend their knowledge to measuring the effectiveness of bioremediation in the environment.
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.
Viking Ship Design Challenge
In this design challenge, students learn about the Vikings from an engineering point-of-view. While investigating the history and anatomy of Viking ships, they learn how engineering solutions are shaped by the surrounding environment and availability of resources. Students apply this knowledge to design, build and test their own model Viking ships.
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.
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.
Tower Investigation and the Egg
Towers have been a part of developed society for centuries. Towers serve a variety of purposes, from lookouts to cellular towers. In this activity student groups will build three types of towers, engineering them to hold an egg one foot high for 15 seconds.