This hands-on activity explores the concept of static electricity. Students attract an O-shaped piece of cereal to a charged comb and watch the cereal jump away when it touches the comb. Students also observe Styrofoam pellets pulling towards a charged comb, then leaping back to the table.
Ice, Ice, PV!
Students examine how the power output of a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel is affected by temperature changes. Using a 100-watt lamp and a small PV panel connected to a digital multimeter, teams vary the temperature of the panel and record the resulting voltage output. They plot the panel’s power output and calculate the panel’s temperature coefficient.
Working as engineering teams, students design and create model beam bridges using plastic drinking straws and tape as their construction materials. Their goal is to build the strongest bridge with a truss pattern of their own design, while meeting the design criteria and constraints. They experiment with different geometric shapes and determine how shapes affect the strength of materials.
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.
Engineers Love Pizza, Too!
In this service-learning engineering project, students follow the steps of the engineering design process to design an assistive eating device for a client. More specifically, they design a prototype device to help a young girl who has a medical condition that restricts the motion of her joints. Her wish is to eat her favorite food, pizza, without getting her nose wet. Students learn about arthrogryposis and how it affects the human body as they act as engineers to find a solution to this open-e
Students will learn about tornadoes, the damage they cause, and how to rate tornadoes. Specifically, students will investigate the Fujita Damage Scale of tornado intensity, and use it to complete a mock engineering analysis of damage caused by a tornado. Lastly, students will learn some basic tornado safety procedures.
The lesson begins with a demonstration introducing students to the force between two current carrying loops, comparing the attraction and repulsion between the loops to that between two magnets. After formal lecture on Ampere’s law, students begin to use the concepts to calculate the magnetic field around a loop. This is applied to determine the magnetic field of a toroid, imagining a toroid as a looped solenoid.
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
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.
This activity illustrates the interrelationship between science and engineering in the context of extinction prevention. There are two parts to the activity. The first part challenges students to think like scientists as they generate reports on endangered species and give presentations worthy of a news channel or radio broadcast. The second part puts students in the shoes of engineers, designing ways to help the endangered species.
Students observe and discuss a simple model of a wet scrubber to understand how this pollutant recovery method functions in cleaning industrial air pollution.
Service-Based Engineering Design Projects
This unit describes a general approach to guiding students to complete service-based engineering design projects, with specific examples provided in detail as associated activities. With your class, brainstorm ideas for engineering designs that benefit your community or a specific person in your community. Then, guided by the steps of the engineering design process, have students research to understand background science and math, meet their client to understand the problem, and create, test and
In this activity, students learn how engineers use solar energy to heat buildings by investigating the thermal storage properties of some common materials: sand, salt, water and shredded paper. Students then evaluate the usefulness of each material as a thermal storage material to be used as the thermal mass in a passive solar building.
How Full Is Full?
Students learn about porosity and permeability and relate these concepts to groundwater flow. They use simple materials to conduct a porosity experiment and use the data to understand how environmental engineers decide on the placement and treatment of a drinking water well.
Intro to Engineering
Students are introduced to the basic principles behind engineering and the types of engineering while learning about a popular topic - the Olympics. The involvement of engineering in modern sports is amazing and pervasive. Students learn about the techniques of engineering problem solving, including brainstorming and the engineering design process. The importance of thinking out of the box is stressed through a discussion of the engineering required to build grand, often complex, Olympic event c
Population Growth in Yeasts
This lesson is the second of two that explore cellular respiration and population growth in yeasts. In the first lesson, students set up a simple way to indirectly observe and quantify the amount of respiration occurring in yeast-molasses cultures. Based on questions that arose during the first lesson and its associated activity, in this lesson students work in small groups to design experiments that will determine how environmental factors affect yeast population growth.
Two Sides of One Force
Students learn more about magnetism, and how magnetism and electricity are related in electromagnets. They learn the fundamentals about how simple electric motors and electromagnets work. Students also learn about hybrid gasoline-electric cars and their advantages over conventional gasoline-only-powered cars.
Designing Medical Devices for the Ear
Students are introduced to engineering, and more specifically, to biomedical engineering and the engineering design process through a short lecture and interactive, hands-on activity (approximately 30 minutes long), where students design their own medical device for retrieving foreign bodies from the ear canal. In this lesson, the teacher first reviews the basics of ear anatomy then discusses how ear infections occur and how they are treated. Following antibiotic treatment, the most common treat
Students learn what causes hurricanes and what engineers do to help protect people from destruction caused by hurricane winds and rain. Research and data collection vessels allow for scientists and engineers to model and predict weather patterns and provide forecasts and storm warnings to the public. Engineers are also involved in the design and building of flood-prevention systems, such as levees and floodwalls. During the 2005 hurricane season, levees failed in the greater New Orleans area, co
Thinking Green: Grow Your Own
This resource guide from the Middle School Portal 2 project, written specifically for teachers, provides links to exemplary resources including background information, lessons, career information, and related national science education standards. Student engagement with agriculture and gardening can not only fill a knowledge gap but also tap in to the affective domain. Students can get involved in community gardens, or collaboratively plan, plant, and cultivate a school garden, indoors, or out.