Getting to the Point
In this lesson, students learn how to determine location by triangulation. We describe the process of triangulation and practice finding your location on a worksheet, in the classroom, and outdoors.
Students continue to explore the story of building a pyramid, learning about the simple machine called a pulley. They learn how a pulley can be used to change the direction of applied forces and move/lift extremely heavy objects, and the powerful mechanical advantages of using a multiple-pulley system. Students perform a simple demonstration to see the mechanical advantage of using a pulley, and they identify modern day engineering applications of pulleys. In a hands-on activity, they see how a
Newton Gets Me Moving
In this lesson, students will explore motion, rockets and rocket motion while assisting Spacewoman Tess, Spaceman Rohan and Maya in their explorations. They will first learn some basic facts about vehicles, rockets and why we use them. Then, the students will discover that the motion of all objects including the flight of a rocket and movement of a canoe is governed by Newton’s three laws of motion.
Make an Alarm!
After reading the story "Dear Mr. Henshaw" by Beverly Cleary, students will build an alarm system for something in the classroom, as the main character Leigh does to protect his lunchbox from thieves. Students will learn about alarms and use their creativity to create an alarm system to protect their lockers, desk, or classroom door. Note: this activity can also be done without reading "Dear Mr. Henshaw".
Touch and Discover
Students work in pairs or small groups to identify and categorize various objects. One student is blindfolded and the other student chooses five objects for their partner to identify. The blindfolded student has to describe and try to identify the object based solely on touch. Both students then record their data, describing the objects first as human-made or natural, then living or non-living, and finally physical characteristics.
What Floats Your Boat?
Students use modeling clay, a material that is denser than water and thus ordinarily sinks in water, to discover the principle of buoyancy. They begin by designing and building boats out of clay that will float in water, and then refine their designs so that their boats will carry as great a load (metal washers) as possible. Building a clay boat to hold as much weight as possible is an engineering design problem. Next, they compare amount of water displaced by a lump of clay that sinks to the am
Wimpy Radar Antenna
Students will reinforce an antenna tower made from foam insulation, so that it will withstand a 480 N-cm bending moment (torque) and a 280 N-cm twisting moment (torque) with minimal deflection. One class will be used to discuss the problem, run the initial bending and torsion tests and graph the results. The following classes will be used for design and construction of a sturdier tower, its testing and graphing of the results.
The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to the concept of the engineering design process and to teach them how to apply it. In “Broken Bones,” students will explore the steps of the engineering design process. They will first receive some background instruction about biomedical engineering or bioengineering. Then they will learn about material selection and material properties by using a guide created for them. Students will then break into small groups and brainstorm. Each stu
The marine environment is unique and requires technologies that can use sound to gather information since there is little light underwater. The seafloor is characterized using underwater sound and acoustical systems. Current technological innovations are allowing scientists to further understand and apply information about animal locations and habitat. Remote sensing and exploration with underwater vehicles allows scientists to map and understand the sea floor, and in some cases, the water colum
Construct and Test Roofs for Different Climates
We design and create objects to make our lives easier and more comfortable. The houses in which we live are excellent examples of this. Depending on your local climate, the features of your house have been designed to satisfy your particular environmental needs: protection from hot, cold, windy and/or rainy weather. In this activity, students design and build model houses, then test them against various climate elements, and then re-design and improve them. Using books, websites and photos, stud
What is the Best Insulator: Air, Styrofoam, Foil, or Cotton?
That heat flows from hot to cold is an unfortunate truth of life. People have put a lot of effort into stopping this fact, however all they have been able to do is slow the process. Working in groups of three to four, students will investigate the properties of insulators in attempts to keep a cup of water from freezing, and once it is frozen, to keep it from melting.
Sounds Like Music
Music can loosely be defined as organized sound. The lesson objectives, understanding sound is a form of energy, understanding pitch, understanding sound traveling through a medium, and being able to separate music from sound, can provide a good knowledge base as to how sound, math, and music are related. Sound exists everywhere in the world; typically objects cause waves of pressure in the air which are perceived by people as sound. Among the sounds that exist in everyday life, a few of them pr
Hot Cans and Cold Cans
Students apply the concepts of conduction, convection, and radiation 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-minute time interval. Students design their solutions using only common everyday materials, and they record the water temperatures in t
With a simple demonstration activity, students are introduced to the concept of friction as a force that impedes motion when two surfaces are in contact. Then, in the Associated Activity (Sliding and Stuttering), they work in teams to use a spring scale to drag an object such as a ceramic coffee cup along a table top or the floor. The spring scale allows them to measure the frictional force that exists between the moving cup and the surface it slides on. By modifying the bottom surface of the cu
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
Floaters and Sinkers
This curricular unit introduces students to the important concept of density. The focus is on the more easily understood densities of solids, but students can also explore the densities of liquids and gases. Students devise methods to determine the densities of solid objects, including the method of water displacement to determine volumes of irregularly-shaped objects. By comparing densities of various solids to the density of water, and by considering the behavior of different solids when place
Heredity Mix ’n Match
Students randomly select jelly beans (or other candy) that represent genes for several human traits such as tongue-rolling ability and eye color. Then, working in pairs (preferably of mixed gender), students randomly choose new pairs of jelly beans from those corresponding to their own genotypes. The new pairs are placed on toothpicks to represent the chromosomes of the couple’s offspring. Finally, students compare genotypes and phenotypes of parents and offspring for all the “couples” in
Map that Habitat
Historically, sea floor mapping occurred with a more simple data collection method: soundings. Soundings are taken by dropping a weight with a pre-measured rope off the side of the boat and noting the measurement on the rope when the weight hits the bottom. This activity will replicate the creation of sea floor bathymetry by taking a simplified form of soundings in the classroom.
Does Contact Area Matter?
Using the same method for measuring friction that was used in the previous lesson (Discovering Friction), students design and conduct an experiment to determine if the amount of area over which an object contacts a surface it is moving across affects the amount of friction encountered.
Racing with the Sun - Creating a Solar Car
Students use engineering design principles to construct and test a fully solar powered car. Several options exist, though we recommend the “Junior Solar Sprint” (JSS) Car Kits that can be purchased with direction from the federal government. Using the JSS kit from Solar World, students were provided with a photovoltaic panel that produces ~3V at ~3W. An optional accessory kit also available from Solar World includes wheels, axels and drive gears. A chassis must be built additionally. Balsa w