Shapes of Strength
Students are introduced to brainstorming and the design process in problem solving as it relates to engineering. They perform an activity to develop and understand problem solving with an emphasis on learning from history. Using only paper, straws, tape and paper clips, they create structures that can support the weight of at least one textbook. In their first attempt to build the structures, they build whatever comes to mind. For the second trial, they examine examples of successful buildings f
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.
A Magnetic Personality
Students learn about magnets and how they are formed. They investigate the properties of magnets and how engineers use magnets in technology. Specifically, students learn about magnetic memory storage, which is the reading and writing of data information using magnets, such as in computer hard drives, zip disks and flash drives.
Package those Foods!
This activity provides students with the opportunity to create a food package for a specific food. The students have three components to focus on in the design of their food package. The package will have to keep the food clean, protect or aid in the physical and chemical changes that can take place in the food, and identify the food appealingly.
Get Your Motor Running
Students investigate motors and electromagnets as they construct their own simple electric motors using batteries, magnets, paper clips and wire.
Got Energy? Spinning a Food Web
Students learn about energy flow in food webs, including the roles of the sun, producers, consumers and decomposers in the energy cycle. They model a food web and create diagrams of food webs using their own drawings and/or images from nature or wildlife magazines. Students investigate the links between the sun, plants and animals, building their understanding of the web of nutrient dependency and energy transfer.
In this lesson, students learn about sound. Girls and boys are introduced to the concept of frequency and how it applies to musical sounds.
Life in Space: The International Space Station
Students are introduced to the International Space Station (ISS) with information about its structure, operation and key experiments. The ISS itself is an experiment in international cooperation to explore the potential for humans to live in space. The space station features state-of-the-art science and engineering laboratories to conduct research in medicine, materials and fundamental science to benefit people on Earth as well as people who will live in space in the future.
Rolling Blackouts & Environmental Impact – What are our Electricity Options?
The goal is for the students to understand the environmental design considerations required when generating electricity. The electric power that we use every day at home and work is generated by a variety of power plants. Power plants are engineered to utilize the conversion of one form of energy to another. The main components of a power plant are an input source of energy that is used to turn large turbines, and a method to convert the turbine rotation into electricity. The input sources of en
Mars and Jupiter
Students explore Mars and Jupiter, the fourth and fifth planets from the Sun. They learn some of the unique characteristics of these planets. They also learn how engineers help us learn about these planets with the design and development of telescopes, deep space antennas, spacecraft and planetary rovers.
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