Students are introduced to our Sun as they explore its composition, what is happening inside it, its relationship to our planet (our energy source), and the ways engineers help us learn about it.
Swinging with Style
Students experientially learn about the characteristics of a simple physics phenomenon — the pendulum — by riding on playground swings. They use pendulum terms and a timer to experiment with swing variables. They extend their knowledge by following the steps of the engineering design process to design timekeeping devices powered by human swinging.
Students learn how using a spectrograph helps us understand the composition of light sources. Using simple materials and holographic diffraction gratings (available online at a variety of sites, including Edmund Scientifics and the Rainbow Symphony Store for ~50 cents each), students create and customize their own spectrographs - just like engineers. They gather data about different light sources, make comparisons between sources, and theorize about their composition. Before building spectrograp
The Magician’s Catapult
In this activity, students reinforce their understanding of compound machines by building a catapult. This compound machine consists of a lever and a wheel-and-axel. Catapults have been designed by engineers for a variety of purposes — from lifting boulders into the air for warfare to human beings for entertainment; the projectiles in this activity are grapes for a magic act. Given the building materials, students design and build their catapult to launch a grape a certain distance.
Household energy audit
Students review the electrical appliances used at home and estimate the energy used for each. The results can help to show the energy hogs that could benefit from conservation or improved efficiency.
A process for technical problem solving is introduced and applied to a fun demonstration. Given the success with the demo, the iterative nature of the process can be illustrated.
Energy Systems Activity
Posters are provided for several different energy conversion systems. The students are provided with cards that give the name and a description of each of the components in the energy system. They have to match these with the figures on the diagram. Since the groups look at different systems, they must also describe their results with the class to share their knowledge.
Biomedical Devices for the Eyes
Students examine the structure and function of the human eye, learning some amazing features about our eyes, which provide us with sight and an understanding of our surroundings. Students also learn about some common eye problems and the biomedical devices and medical procedures that resolve or help to lessen the effects of these vision deficiencies, including vision correction surgery.
Sound Booth Construction
Students explore the sound dampening ability of numerous materials by designing and prototyping model sound booths. As a result, students learn about how sound is reflected, absorbed and travels through various materials, thus giving them an overview of sound dampening, energy absorption and sound propagation in the context of engineering. Students also create blueprints and document their findings in a formal lab report.
Laser Types and Uses
Through two classroom demos, students are introduced to the basic properties of lasers through various mediums. In the Making an Electric Pickle demonstration, students see how cellular tissue is able to conduct electricity, and how this is related to various soaking solutions. In the Red/Green Lasers through Different Mediums demonstration, students see the properties of lasers, especially diffraction, in various mediums. Follow-up lecture material introduces students to the mechanisms by which
Exploring Light: Absorb, Reflect, Transmit or Refract?
In a hands-on way, students explore light’s properties of absorption, reflection, transmission and refraction through various experimental stations within the classroom. To understand absorption, reflection and transmission, they shine flashlights on a number of preselected objects. To understand refraction, students create indoor rainbows. An understanding of the fundamental properties of light is essential to designing an invisible laser security system.
Both Fields at Once?!
This lesson discusses the result of a charge being subject to both electric and magnetic fields at the same time. It covers the Hall effect, velocity selector, and the charge to mass ratio. Given several sample problems, students learn to calculate the Hall Voltage dependent upon the width of the plate, the drift velocity, and the strength of the magnetic field. Then students learn to calculate the velocity selector, represented by the ratio of the magnitude of the fields assuming the strength o
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.
Thrown for a Loop
In this lesson, students begin to focus on the torque associated with a current carrying loop in a magnetic field. Students are prompted with example problems and use diagrams to visualize the vector product. In addition, students learn to calculate the energy of this loop in the magnetic field. Several example problems are included and completed as a class. A homework assignment is also attached as a means of student assessment.
To reinforce students’ understanding of the human digestion process, the functions of several stomach and small intestine fluids are analyzed, and the concept of simulation is introduced through a short, introductory demonstration of how these fluids work. Students learn what simulation means and how it relates to the engineering process, particularly in biomedical engineering. The teacher demo requires vinegar, baking soda, water and aspirin.
Polluted Air = Polluted Lungs
To gain a better understanding of the roles and functions of components of the human respiratory system and our need for clean air, students construct model lungs that include a diaphragm and chest cavity. They see how air moving in and out of the lungs coincides with diaphragm movement. Then student teams design and build a prototype face mask pollution filter. They use their model lungs to evaluate their prototypes to design requirements.
Engineering in Reverse!
Students learn about the process of reverse engineering and how this technique is used to improve upon technology. Students analyze push-toys and draw diagrams of the predicted mechanisms inside the toys. Then, they disassemble the toys and draw the actual inner mechanisms. By understanding how the push-toys function, students make suggestions for improvement, such as cost effectiveness, improved functionality, ecological friendliness and any additional functionality they determine is an improve
Students learn some basic facts about asteroids in our solar system, mainly about the size of asteroids and how that relates to the potential danger of an asteroid colliding with the Earth. Students are briefly introduced to the destruction that would ensue should a large asteroid hit, as it did 65 million years ago.
Students are introduced to communications engineers as people who enable long-range communication. In a demonstration, students discuss the tendency of sound to diminish with distance and model this phenomenon using a slinky. Alexander Graham Bell is introduced as the inventor of the telephone and a pioneer in communications engineering.
Students use a simple pH indicator to measure how much CO2 is produced during respiration, at rest and after exercising. They begin by comparing some common household solutions in order to determine the color change of the indicator. They review the concepts of pH and respiration and extend their knowledge to measuring the effectiveness of bioremediation in the environment.