The spring season marks the long-awaited arrival of the Magicicada Brood X periodical cicadas. The Magicicada cicadas are emerging in great numbers after spending 17 years underground. The following websites offer information about the periodical cicadas, and other cicadas as well. The first (1) site, from the University of Michigan's Museum of Zoology, provides a variety of short information entries about periodical cicadas including photos, and song clips. Hosted by the College of Mount St. Jo
Java Digital Signal Processing Editor
Professor Andreas Spanias of Arizona State University has supervised the development of this online digital signal processing (DSP) system simulation utility. This utility has many functions that allow the user to generate various signals, create filters, and analyze the responses. Other functions include Fourier Transforms, convolution, autocorrelation, and several speech processing tools. The interface is well designed and easy to use, and there are plenty of examples and documentation. Howeve
NOAA Coastwatch Great Lakes Node
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) CoastWatch program provides near real-time satellite observations and in-situ Great Lakes data. Visitors can view AVHRR imagery, contour maps, GOES imagery, and other Great Lakes data imagery. The website offers data on the physical characteristics of the Great Lakes as well as data on the average surface water temperature and current and historic water levels. QuickTime movies illustrate changes in water temperature throughout a given
Earth Science Australia
Earth Science Australia, a site maintained by students and teachers, offers a wide array of quality online science material. The Rocks and Minerals page contains information on the rock cycle, the percent crustal abundance of the common elements, the definition of a mineral, igneous rock facts, types of magma, Bowen's reaction series, sedimentary rock facts, rock formation animations, rock photographs, rock deformation and metamorphic rock information, and much more. Each page contains text, ani
Protect Those Eyes
Students design and build prototypes for protective eyewear. They choose different activities or sports that require protective eyewear and design a device for that particular use. Students learn about the many ways in which the eyes can be damaged and how engineers incorporate different features and materials into eyewear designs to best protect the eyes.
An introduction to our solar system: the planets, our Sun and our Moon. Students begin by learning the history and engineering of space travel. They make simple rockets to acquire a basic understanding Newton’s third law of motion. They explore energy transfer concepts and use renewable solar energy for cooking. They see how engineers design tools, equipment and spacecraft to go where it is too far and too dangerous for humans. They explore the Earth’s water cycle, and gravity as applied to
Students examine how different balls react when colliding with different surfaces, giving plenty of opportunity for them to see the difference between elastic and inelastic collisions, learn how to calculate momentum, and understand the principle of conservation of momentum.
Students utilize data tables culled from the US DOE Energy Information Agency to create graphs that illustrate what types of energy we use and how we use it. An MS Excel workbook with several spreadsheets of data is provided. Students pick (or the teacher assigns) one of the data tables for the students to create a plot from and interpret the information provided. Each student group shares their interpretation and new perspectives on energy resources and use with the class.
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 lab demonstrates Hooke’s Law with the use of springs and masses. The students attempt to determine the proportionality constant, or k-value, for a spring. The students do this by calculating the change in length of the spring as different masses are added to it. The concept of a springs elastic limit is also introduced, and the students must test to makes sure the spring’s elastic limit has not be reached during their tests in the lab. After compiling all of their data, they attempt to
Designing a Thermostat
Students investigate circuits and their components by building a basic thermostat. They learn why key parts are necessary for the circuit to function, and alter the circuit to optimize the thermostat temperature range. They also gain an awareness of how electrical engineers design circuits for the countless electronic products in our world.
In this activity, students will learn how to read a topographical map and how to triangulate with just a map. True triangulation requires both a map and compass, but to simplify the activity and make it possible indoors, the compass information is given. Students will practice converting a compass measurement to a protractor measurement, as well as reverse a bearing direction (i.e., if they know a tree’s bearing is 100 degrees from you, they can determine what bearing they are from the tree).
Does Weight 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 weight added incrementally to an object affects the amount of friction encountered when it slides across a flat surface. After graphing the data from their experiments, students can calculate the coefficients of friction between the object and the surface it moved upon, for both static and kinetic friction.
Analyze the Data
Students go through the logical process of quantitatively analyzing data from the FasTracks system. They gain experience identifying problems with the current design based upon their earlier observations and experiences in activities 1 and 2. Students discuss the flaws that they find in the system. This activity requires the use of the FasTracks Living Lab, a web portal to interactive train (transit) traffic data for a major metropolitan city.
A quantitative illustration of how non-renewable resources are depleted while renewable resources continue to provide energy. The activity requires students to remove beads (units of energy) from a bag (representing a country). A certain number of beads are removed from the bag each “year.” At some point, no non-renewable beads remain. Groups of students have different ratios of renewable and non-renewable energy beads. A comparison of the remaining beads and time when they ran out of energy
Through a five-lesson series with five hands-on activities, students are introduced to six simple machines - inclined plane, wedge, screw, lever, pulley, wheel-and-axle - as well as compound machines, which are combinations of two or more simple machines. Once students understand about work (work = force x distance), they become familiar with the machines' mechanical advantages, and see how they make work easier. Through an introduction to compound machines, students begin to think critically ab
Swing in Time
Students examine the motion of pendulums and come to understand that the longer the string of the pendulum, the fewer the number of swings in a given time interval. They see that changing the weight on the pendulum does not have an effect on the period. They also observe that changing the angle of release of the pendulum has negligible effect upon the period.
Graphing the Rainbow
Students are introduced to different ways of displaying visual spectra, including colored “barcode” spectra, like those produced by a diffraction grating, and line plots displaying intensity versus color, or wavelength. Students learn that a diffraction grating acts like a prism, bending light into its component colors.
Make Some Waves
In this activity, students use their own creativity (and their bodies) to make longitudinal and transverse waves. Through the use of common items, they will investigate the different between longitudinal and transverse waves.
Pointing at Maximum Power for PV
Student teams measure voltage and current in order to determine the power output of a photovoltaic (PV) panel. They vary the resistance in a simple circuit connected to the panel to demonstrate the effects on voltage, current, and power output. After collecting data, they calculate power for each resistance setting, creating a graph of current vs. voltage, and indentifying the maximum power point.