Swinging Pendulum (for High School)
This activity shows students the engineering importance of understanding the laws of mechanical energy. More specifically, it demonstrates how potential energy can be converted to kinetic energy and back again. Given a pendulum height, students calculate and predict how fast the pendulum will swing by using the equations for potential and kinetic energy. The equations will be justified as students experimentally measure the speed of the pendulum and compare theory with reality.
Got Energy? Spinning a Food Web
Students learn about energy flow in food webs, including the roles of the sun, producers, consumers and decomposers in the energy cycle. They model a food web and create diagrams of food webs using their own drawings and/or images from nature or wildlife magazines. Students investigate the links between the sun, plants and animals, building their understanding of the web of nutrient dependency and energy transfer.
Students learn about the Earth’s only natural satellite, the Moon. They discuss the Moon’s surface features and human exploration. They also learn about how engineers develop technologies to study and explore the Moon, which also helps us learn more about the Earth.
Rube Goldberg and the Meaning of Machines
Simple and compound machines are designed to make work easier. When we encounter a machine that does not fit this understanding, the so-called machine seems absurd. In this lesson, the cartoons of Rube Goldberg are introduced and engage the students in critical thinking about the way his inventions make a simple task even harder to complete. As the final lesson in the simple machines unit, the study of Rube Goldberg machines can help students evaluate the importance and usefulness of the many ma
Not So Simple
Students expand upon their understanding of simple machines with an introduction to compound machines. A compound machine — a combination of two or more simple machines — can affect work more than its individual components. Engineers who design compound machines aim to benefit society by lessening the amount of work that people exert for even common household tasks. This lesson encourages students to critically think about machine inventions and their role in our lives.
The Magician’s Catapult
In this activity, students reinforce their understanding of compound machines by building a catapult. This compound machine consists of a lever and a wheel-and-axel. Catapults have been designed by engineers for a variety of purposes — from lifting boulders into the air for warfare to human beings for entertainment; the projectiles in this activity are grapes for a magic act. Given the building materials, students design and build their catapult to launch a grape a certain distance.
Energy Systems and Solutions
The Energy Systems and Solutions Unit brings students through the exploration of science and engineering concepts as they relate to energy issues in everyday life. Issues surrounding energy production and energy consumption provide a relevant theme for learning basic science, math and engineering concepts, and also provide a convenient platform for introducing current scientific and technological developments into the curriculum. Energy-related issues touch on the lives of each and every student
A quantitative illustration of how non-renewable resources are depleted while renewable resources continue to provide energy. The activity requires students to remove beads (units of energy) from a bag (representing a country). A certain number of beads are removed from the bag each “year.” At some point, no non-renewable beads remain. Groups of students have different ratios of renewable and non-renewable energy beads. A comparison of the remaining beads and time when they ran out of energy
Household Energy Conservation and Efficiency
Students complete three different activities to evaluate the energy consumption in a household and explore potential ways to reduce that consumption. The focus is on conservation and energy efficient electrical devices and appliances. The lesson reinforces the relationship between power and energy and associated measurements and calculations required to evaluate energy consumption. The lesson provides the students with more concrete information for completing their culminating unit assignment.
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.
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.
Who Robbed the Bank?
Students use DNA profiling to determine who robbed a bank. After they learn how the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) is used to match crime scene DNA with tissue sample DNA, students use CODIS principles and sample DNA fragments to determine which of three suspects matches evidence obtain at a crime location. They communicate their results as if they were biomedical engineers reporting to a police crime scene investigation.
The Mummified Troll: Devising a Protection Plan
Students are introduced to the parameters of an engineering challenge in which their principal has asked them to devise an invisible security system to cost-effectively protect a treasured mummified troll, while still allowing for visitor viewing during the day. Students generate ideas for solving the grand challenge, first independently, then in small groups, and finally, compiled as a class.
Induced EMF in a coil of wire
Students use a simple set up consisting of a coil of wire and a magnet to visualize induced EMF. First, students move a coil of wire near a magnet and observe the voltage that results. They then experiment with moving the wire, magnet, and a second, current carrying coil. Students connect the coil to a circuit and the current from the induced EMF charges a conductor.
May the Magnetic Force be with You
This lesson begins with a demonstration of the deflection of an electron beam. Students then review their knowledge of the cross product and the right hand rule with sample problems. After which, students study the magnetic force on a charged particle as compared to the electric force. The following lecture material covers the motion of a charged particle in a magnetic field with respect to the direction of the field. Finally, students apply these concepts to understand the magnetic force on a c
Light It Up
Through an introduction to the design of lighting systems and the electromagnetic spectrum, students learn about the concept of daylighting as well as two types of light bulbs (lamps) often used in energy-efficient lighting design. Students learn how the application of something as simple, and free, as natural light can help them improve the future of generations to come.
Biomedical Engineering and the Human Body
Human beings are fascinating and complex living organisms — a symphony of different functional systems working in concert. Through a ten-lesson series with hands-on activities students are introduced to seven systems of the human body — skeletal, muscular, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, sensory, and reproductive — as well as genetics. At every stage, they are also introduced to engineers’ creative, real-world involvement in caring for the human body.
Living with Your Liver
Students learn the function of the liver and how biomedical engineers can use liver regeneration to help people. Students test the effects of toxic chemicals on a beef liver by adding hydrogen peroxide to various liver and salt solutions. They observe, record and graph their results.
Students are introduced to several key concepts of electronic circuits. They learn about some of the physics behind circuits, the key components in a circuit and their pervasiveness in our homes and everyday lives. Students learn about Ohm’s Law and how it is used to analyze circuits.
Floating and Falling Flows
Students discover fluid dynamics related to buoyancy through experimentation and optional photography. Using one set of fluids, they make light fluids rise through denser fluids. Using another set, they make dense fluids sink through a lighter fluid. In both cases, they see and record beautiful fluid motion. Activities are also suitable as class demonstrations. The natural beauty of fluid flow opens the door to seeing the beauty of physics in general.