A New Angle on PV Efficiency
Students examine how the orientation of a photovoltaic (PV) panel relative to the sun affects the efficiency of the panel. Using sunshine (or a lamp) and a small PV panel connected to a digital multimeter, students vary the angle of the solar panel, record the resulting current output on a worksheet, and plot their experimental results.
The Grand Challenge: Simulating Human Vision
This lesson introduces the Robotics Peripheral Vision Grand Challenge question. Students are asked to write journal responses to the question and brainstorm what information they will need to answer the question. The ideas are shared with the class and recorded. Students then share their ideas with each other and brainstorm any additional ideas. Next students draw a basis for the average peripheral vision of a human being and then compare that range to the range of two different focal lengths in
Graphing Equations on the Cartesian Plane: Slope
The lesson teaches students about an important characteristic of lines: their slope. Slope can be determined either in graphical or algebraic form. Slope can also be described as positive, negative, zero, or undefined. Students get an explanation of when and how these different types of slope occur. Finally, students learn how slope relates to parallel and perpendicular lines. When two lines are parallel, they have the same slope and when they are perpendicular their slopes are negative reciproc
Save a Life, Clean Some Water!
Student teams practice the measurement of water quality through turbidity and coliform bacteria counts. They use their results and information about water treatment processes to design prototype small-scale water treatment system models. They test the influent and effluent (outgoing) water to assess how well their model systems might prevent water-borne diseases and illnesses.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
Students learn the metric units engineers use to measure mass, distance (or length) and volume. They make estimations using these units and compare their guesses with actual values. To introduce the concepts, the teacher needs access to a meter stick, a one-liter bottle, a glass container that measures milliliters and a gram scale.
Measuring Lava Flow
Students learn how volume, viscosity and slope are factors that affect the surface area that lava covers. Using clear transparency grids and liquid soap, students conduct experiments, make measurements and collect data. They also brainstorm possible solutions to lava flow problems as if they were geochemical engineers, and come to understand how the properties of lava are applicable to other liquids.
Solid, Liquid or Gas?
Students are given a variety of materials and asked to identify if each material as a solid, liquid or gas. They use their five senses — sight, sound, smell, texture and taste — to identify the other characteristics of each item.
One World Ocean
In this activity, students learn about ocean currents and the difference between salt and fresh water. They use colored ice cubes to see how cold and warm water mix and how this mixing causes currents. Also, students learn how surface currents occur due to wind streams. Lastly, they learn how fresh water floats on top of salt water, the difference between water in the ocean and fresh water throughout the planet, and how engineers are involved in the design of ocean water systems for human use.
Mix It Up
This lesson plan introduces the properties of mixtures and solutions. A class demonstration gives the students the opportunity to compare and contrast the physical characteristics of a few simple mixtures and solutions. Students discuss the separation of mixtures and solutions back into their original components as well as different engineering applications of mixtures and solutions.
Powering the U.S.
This lesson provides students with an overview of the electric power industry in the United States. Students also become familiar with the environmental impacts associated with a variety of energy sources.
Students are introduced to natural disasters, and learn the difference between natural hazards and natural disasters. They discover the many types of natural hazards — avalanche, earthquake, flood, forest fire, hurricane, landslide, thunderstorm, tornado, tsunami and volcano — as well as specific examples of natural disasters. Students also explore why understanding these natural events is important to engineers and everyone’s survival on our planet.
Using Spectral Data to Explore Saturn and Titan
Students use authentic spectral data from the Cassini mission of Saturn and Saturn’s moon, Titan, gathered by instrumentation developed by engineers. Taking these unknown data, and comparing it with known data, students determine the chemical composition of Saturn’s rings and Titan’s atmosphere.
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
Students learn the basics about soil, including its formation, characteristics and importance. They are also introduced to soil profiles and how engineers conduct site investigations to learn about soil quality for development, contamination transport, and assessing the general environmental health of an area.
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.
In this activity, students will learn about how tornadoes are formed and what they look like. By creating a water vortex in a soda bottle, they will get a first-hand look at tornadoes.
In this activity, students are introduced to faults. They will learn about different kinds of faults and understand their relationship to earthquakes. The students will build cardboard models of the three different types of faults as they learn about how earthquakes are formed.
The students work in teams of two to discover the relative positions of the Earth, Sun and Moon that produce the different phases of the Moon. The students will be given a Styrofoam ball that they will attach to a pencil so that it looks like a lollipop. This ball will be the Moon, the students will be the Earth and a hanging lightbulb will be the Sun. The students will move the “Moon” around them to discover the different phases. They will fill in the position of the Moon and its correspond
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.