Designing a Spectroscopy Mission
Students find and calculate the angle that light is transmitted through a holographic diffraction grating using trigonometry. After finding this angle, student teams design and build their own spectrographs, researching and designing a ground- or space-based mission using their creation. At project end, teams present their findings to the class, as if they were making an engineering conference presentation. Student must have completed the associated Building a Fancy Spectrograph activity before
Don’t Confuse Your Qs!
Students investigate the difference between qualitative and quantitative measurements and observations. By describing objects both qualitatively and quantitatively, students learn that both types of information are required for complete descriptions. Students discuss various the characteristics of many objects, demonstrating how engineers use both qualitative and quantitative information in product design.
Through five lessons, students are introduced to all facets of the rock cycle. Topics include rock and mineral types, material stresses and weathering, geologic time and fossil formation, the Earth’s crust and tectonic plates, and soil formation and composition. Lessons are in the context of the related impact on humans in the form of roadway and tunnel design and construction, natural disasters, environmental site assessment for building structures, and measurement instrumentation and tools.
Students culture cells in order to find out which type of surfactant (in this case, soap) is best at removing bacteria. Groups culture cells from unwashed hands and add regular bar soap, regular liquid soap, anti-bacterial soap, dishwasher soap, and hand sanitizer to the cultures. The cultures are allowed to grow for two days and then the students assess which type of soap did the best job of removing bacteria cells from unwashed hands. Students extend their knowledge of engineering and surfacta
Product Development and the Environment
In this activity, students investigate the life cycle of an engineered product and how the product impacts the environment. They analyze a product using a simple life cycle assessment that assigns fictional numerical values for different steps in the life cycle. They use their analysis to compare the impacts of their product to other products, as well as suggest ways to reduce the product’s environmental impact based on their analysis.
Mechanical energy is the most easily understood form of energy for students. When there is mechanical energy involved, something moves. Mechanical energy is a very important concept to understand. Engineers need to know what happens when something heavy falls from a long distance changing its potential energy into kinetic energy. Automotive engineers need to know what happens when cars crash into each other, and why they can do so much damage, even at low speeds! Our knowledge of mechanical ener
Riding the Radio Waves
Through this lesson students learn how AM radios work through basic concepts about waves and magnetic fields. Waves are first introduced by establishing the difference between transverse and longitudinal waves, as well as identifying the amplitude and frequency of a given waveform. Students then learn general concepts about magnetic fields, leading into how radio waves are created and transmitted. Several demonstrations can be performed in order to help students better understand these concepts.
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.
Survive That Tsunami!
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 the continental shelf. Students make villages of model houses and buildings to test how different material types are impacted by the huge waves. They further discuss how engineers design buildings to survive tsunamis. Much of this activity setup is the same as for the Mini-Landscape activity in Lesson 4 of the Natur
Binary and Communication Systems
Through this activity, students are introduced to the concept of binary coding as a language and its practical applications in digital and communication systems.This project is intended to give students a deeper appreciation for communication systems and an understanding of how binary symbols are used to transmit information.
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".
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
The Other Water Cycle
For students that have already been introduced to the water cycle this lesson is intended as a logical follow-up. Students will learn about human impacts on the water cycle that create a pathway for pollutants beginning with urban development and joining the natural water cycle as surface runoff. The extent of surface runoff in an area depends on the permeability of the materials in the ground. Permeability is the degree to which water or other liquids are able to flow through a material. Differ
What’s Hot and What’s Not?
With the help of simple, teacher-led demonstration activities, students learn the basic physics of heat transfer by means of conduction, convection, and radiation. They also learn about examples of heating and cooling devices, from stove tops to car radiators, that they encounter everyday in their homes, schools, and modes of transportation. Since in our everyday lives there are many times that we want to prevent heat transfer, students also consider ways that conduction, convection, and radiati
Energetic Musical Instruments
Students will learn to apply the principles and concepts associated with energy and the transfer of energy in an engineering context through the designing and making of a musical instrument. The students must choose from a variety of supplies presented to them to make an instrument capable of producing three different tones. After the accomplishment of the design, students must explain the energy transfer mechanism in sufficient detail and describe how they could make their instruments better.
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.
Scaling the Map
Students will learn how to determine map distances and map areas using the map scale. They will also get a better feel for how much an area represents on the map in relation to the size they are suggesting for their cavern.
Straining out the Dirt
In this activity, students build a water filter with activated carbon, cotton and other materials to remove chocolate powder from water.
Testing the Caverns (Optional)
This lesson provides a fun, activity-based closure to the Asteroid Impact unit. Students build model caverns using paper mache or clay and bury them in a tray of sand. Next, they test the models by dropping balls onto them to simulate an asteroid hitting the earth. By molding paper mache around a balloon to form a dome, or around a small cardboard box to form a rectangular structure, students will be able to build their caverns.
You’re a Pushover!
The purpose of this activity is to demonstrate Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion, which is the physical law that governs thrust in aircraft. The students will do several activities that show that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.