Construction Technologies: Create the Strongest Bridge
Students work in pairs to create three simple types of model bridges (beam, arch, suspension). They observe quantitatively how the bridges work under load and why engineers use different types of bridges for different places. They also get an idea of the parts needed to build bridges, and their functions. The strength of model bridges is mainly a factor of the quality of materials used, and therefore they do not provide a clear visual representation of tension and compression forces involved. Ye
Yeast Cells Respire, Too (But Not Like Me and You)
Students set up a simple way to indirectly observe and quantify the amount of respiration occurring in yeast-molasses cultures. Each student adds a small amount of baking yeast to a test tube filled with diluted molasses. A second, smaller test tube is then placed upside-down inside the solution. As the yeast cells respire, the carbon dioxide they produce is trapped inside the inverted test tube, producing a growing bubble of gas that is easily observed and measured. Students are presented with
Go with the Flow
Students gain an understanding of the difference between electrical conductors and insulators, and experience recognizing a conductor by its material properties. In a hands-on activity, students build a conductivity tester to determine whether different objects are conductors or insulators. In another activity, students use their understanding of electrical properties to choose appropriate materials to design and build their own basic circuit switch.
Shallow & Deep Foundations
Students investigate the critical nature of foundations as they learn differences between shallow and deep foundations, including the concepts of bearing pressure and settlement. Using models representing a shallow foundation and a deep pile foundation, they test, see and feel the effects in a cardboard box test bed composed of layers of pebbles, soil and sand. They also make bearing pressure calculations and recommendations for which type of foundations to use in various engineering scenarios.
This lesson will allow students to explore an important role of environmental engineers: cleaning the environment. Students will learn details about the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which was one of the most publicized and studied environmental tragedies in history. In the accompanying activity, they will try many “engineered” strategies to clean up their own manufactured oil spill and learn the difficulties of dealing with oil released into our waters.
What's the Problem
Lesson 1 introduces the Asteroid Impact unit. Students will read the President’s memo to receive their ‘marching orders’. Student teams are then formed and are given the student packet that includes worksheets and maps. Each team should become familiar with the maps and complete Worksheet One as a group.
In this activity, students will learn how to read a topographical map and how to triangulate with just a map. True triangulation requires both a map and compass, but to simplify the activity and make it possible indoors, the compass information is given. Students will practice converting a compass measurement to a protractor measurement, as well as reverse a bearing direction (i.e., if they know a tree’s bearing is 100 degrees from you, they can determine what bearing they are from the tree).
The Boxes Go Mobile
To display the results from the previous activity, each student designs and constructs a mobile that contains a duplicate of his or her original box, the new cube-shaped box of the same volume, the scraps that are left over from the original box, and pertinent calculations of the volumes and surface areas involved.
Forces, Forces Everywhere
Students are introduced to Newton’s laws of motion. They learn about forces associated with motion, gravitational acceleration, weight, normal force, static and kinetic friction, drag, and free-body diagrams. These concepts are reinforced with the associated activity, Dragged Racers, to analyze frictional forces as they use their mousetrap-powered model cars to relate displacement, velocity and acceleration with external forces acting upon them.
How to be a Great Navigator!
In this lesson, students will learn how great navigators of the past stayed on course — that is, the historical methods of navigation. The concepts of dead reckoning and celestial navigation are discussed.
Dress for Success
In this design activity, students investigate materials engineering as it applies to weather and clothing. Teams design and analyze different combinations of materials for effectiveness in specific weather conditions. Analysis includes simulation of temperature, wind and wetness elements, as well as the functionality and durability of final prototypes.
Pointing at Maximum Power for PV
Student teams measure voltage and current in order to determine the power output of a photovoltaic (PV) panel. They vary the resistance in a simple circuit connected to the panel to demonstrate the effects on voltage, current, and power output. After collecting data, they calculate power for each resistance setting, creating a graph of current vs. voltage, and indentifying the maximum power point.
Joseph Schwantner and His Music
Documentary containing interview footage with the composer Joseph Schwantne, and narrated overview of his life and music. The piece focuses on the making of his composition New Morning for the World, which accompanies the words of Martin Luther King. Includes performances of his music recorded for this program.
Build Your Own Insect Trap
Students design and construct devices to trap insects that are present in the area around the school. The objective is to ask the right design questions and conduct the right tests to determine if the traps work .
What Do Bread and Beer Have in Common?
Students are presented with information that will allow them to recognize that yeasts are unicellular organisms that are useful to humans. In fact, their usefulness is derived from the contrast between the way yeast cells and human cells respire. Specifically, while animal cells derive energy from the combination of oxygen and glucose and produce water and carbon dioxide as by-products, yeasts respire without oxygen. Instead, yeasts break glucose down and produce alcohol and carbon dioxide as th
The Visual Spectrum
In this activity, students make simple spectroscopes (prisms) to look at different light sources. The spectroscopes allow students to see differing spectral distributions of different light sources.
Students collect, categorize, weigh and analyze classroom solid waste. The class collects waste for a week and then student groups spend a day sorting and analyzing the garbage with respect to recyclable and non-recyclable items. They discuss ways that engineers have helped to reduce the accumulation of solid waste.
Students learn about tsunamis, discovering what causes them and what makes them so dangerous. They learn that engineers design detection and warning equipment, as well as structures that that can survive the strong wave forces. In a hands-on activity, students use a table-top-sized tsunami generator to observe the formation and devastation of a tsunami. They see how a tsunami moves across the ocean and what happens when it reaches a coastline. They make villages of model houses to test how diffe
Navigating at the Speed of Satellites
For thousands of years, navigators have looked to the sky for direction. Today, celestial navigation has simply switched from using natural objects to human-created satellites. A constellation of satellites, called the Global Positioning System, and hand-held receivers allow for very accurate navigation. In this lesson, students investigate the fundamental concepts of GPS technology — trilateration and using the speed of light to calculate distances.
Test and Treat Before You Drink
Students learn about water quality testing (coliform bacteria, turbidity) and what is involved in basic water treatment designs. Biological, physical and chemical treatment processes are addressed, as well as physical and biological water quality testing, including testing for bacteria such as E.coli.