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.
This activity is a teacher-led demonstration of continental drift and includes a math worksheet for students involving the calculation of continental drift over time. Students will understand what continental drift is, why it occurs, and how earthquakes occur because of it.
Solid Rock to Building Block
Students continue their pyramid building journey, acting as engineers to determine the appropriate wedge tool to best extract rock from a quarry and cut into pyramid blocks. Using sample materials (wax, soap, clay, foam) representing rock types that might be found in a quarry, they test a variety of wedges made from different materials and with different degrees of sharpness to determine which is most effective at cutting each type of material.
Ready to Erupt!
Students observe an in-classroom visual representation of a volcanic eruption. The water-powered volcano demonstration is made in advance, using sand, hoses and a waterballoon, representing the main components of all volcanoes. During the activity, students observe, measure and sketch the volcano, seeing how its behavior provides engineers with indicators used to predict an eruption.
Students will be challenged to design and construct a tower out of newspaper. They will have limited supplies including newspaper, tape, and scissors since engineers are often restricted by economic reasons as to how much material they can use in their building. The students will be building for height and stability, and their towers must be designed to withstand a lateral “wind” load.
Compare Fabric Materials
Students will look at different types of fabric and their respective individual properties. Using a magnifying glass and sandpaper they will test and observe the weave of fabrics and the wear quality of sample fabrics. By comparing the qualities of different fabrics they will better understand why there are so many different types of fabric and be able to recognize or suggest different uses for them.
A House is a House for Me
Students brainstorm and discuss the different types of materials used to build houses in various climates. They build small models of houses and test them in different climates.
Glue Sticks Bend & Twist
Students use hot glue gun sticks to learn about the forces of tension, compression and torsion.
What is the Best Insulator: Air, Styrofoam, Foil, or Cotton?
That heat flows from hot to cold is an unfortunate truth of life. People have put a lot of effort into stopping this fact, however all they have been able to do is slow the process. Working in groups of three to four, students will investigate the properties of insulators in attempts to keep a cup of water from freezing, and once it is frozen, to keep it from melting.
Put Your Heart into Engineering
This lesson contains background about the blood vascular system and the heart. Also, the different sizes of capillaries, veins, and arteries, and how they affect blood flow through the system. We will then proceed to talk about the heart’s function in the blood vascular system. This will lead into a discussion of heart valves, how they work and what might cause them to fail. Then we will discuss prosthetic heart valves.
Who Needs What?
The teacher leads a discussion in which students identify the physical needs of animals, and then speculate on the needs of plants. With guidance from the teacher, the students then help design an experiment that can take place in the classroom to test whether or not plants need light and water in order to grow. Sunflower seeds are planted in plastic cups, and once germinated, are exposed to different conditions. In particular, within the classroom setting it is easy to test for the effects of l
Factors Affecting Friction
Based on what they have already learned about friction, students formulate hypotheses concerning the effects of weight and contact area on the amount of friction between two surfaces. In the Associated Activities (Does Weight Matter? and Does Area Matter?), students design and conduct simple experiments to test their hypotheses, using procedures similar to those used in the previous lesson (Discovering Friction). An analysis of their data will reveal the importance of weight to normal friction (
Cellular Respiration and Population Growth
Two lessons and their associated activities explore cellular respiration and population growth in yeasts. Yeast cells are readily obtained and behave predictably, so they are very appropriate to use in middle school classrooms. In the first lesson, students are introduced to yeast respiration through its role in the production of bread and alcoholic beverages. A discussion of the effects of alcohol on the human body is used both as an attention-getting device, and as a means to convey important
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.