Citizen Science with Zooniverse

Students learn that ordinary citizens, including students like themselves, can make meaningful contributions to science through the concept of "citizen science." First, students learn some examples of... ...moreStudents learn that ordinary citizens, including students like themselves, can make meaningful contributions to science through the concept of "citizen science." First, students learn some examples of ongoing citizen science projects that are common around the world, such as medical research, medication testing and donating idle computer time to perform scientific calculations. Then they explore Zooniverse, an interactive website that shows how research in areas from marine biology to astronomy leverage the power of the Internet to use the assistance of nonscientists to classify large amounts of data that is unclassifiable by machines for various reasons. To conclude, student groups act as engineering teams to brainstorm projects ideas for their own town that could benefit from community help, then design conceptual interactive websites that could organize and support the projects. ...less 
Activity 
20140328 
Subject Areas: 4 Curricular Units: 0 Lessons: 0 Details 
Highlighting the Neuron

In this lesson on the brain's neural networks, students investigate the structure and function of the neuron. They discover ways in which engineers apply this knowledge to the development of devices t... ...moreIn this lesson on the brain's neural networks, students investigate the structure and function of the neuron. They discover ways in which engineers apply this knowledge to the development of devices that can activate neurons. After a review of the nervous system—specifically its organs, tissue, and specialized cells, called neurons—students learn about the parts of the neuron. They explore the cell body, dendrites, axon and axon terminal, and learn how these structures enable neurons to send messages. They learn about the connections between engineering and other fields of study, and the importance of research, as they complete the lesson tasks. ...less 
Lesson 
20140326 
Subject Areas: 2 Curricular Units: 0 Activities: 1 Details 
Building the Neuron

What does the brain look like? As engineers, how can we look at neural networks without invasive surgery? In this activity, students design and build neuron models based on observations made while vie... ...moreWhat does the brain look like? As engineers, how can we look at neural networks without invasive surgery? In this activity, students design and build neuron models based on observations made while viewing neurons through a microscope. The models are used to explain how each structure of the neuron contributes to the overall function. Students share their models with younger students and explain what a neuron is, its function, and how engineers use their understanding of the neuron to make devices to activate neurons. ...less 
Activity 
20140326 
Subject Areas: 0 Curricular Units: 0 Lessons: 1 Details 
Fence That Farmland!

Students develop and solidify their understanding of the concept of "perimeter" as they engage in a portion of the civil engineering task of land surveying. Specifically, they measure and calculate th... ...moreStudents develop and solidify their understanding of the concept of "perimeter" as they engage in a portion of the civil engineering task of land surveying. Specifically, they measure and calculate the perimeter of a fenced in area of "farmland," and see that this length is equivalent to the minimum required length of a fence to enclose it. Doing this for variously shaped areas confirms that the perimeter is the minimal length of fence required to enclose those shapes. Then students use the technology of a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT robot to automate this task. After measuring the perimeter (and thus required fence length) of the "farmland," students see the NXT robot travel around this length, just as a surveyor might travel around an area during the course of surveying land or measuring for fence materials. While practicing their problem solving and measurement skills, students learn and reinforce their scientific and geometric vocabulary. ...less 
Activity 
20140324 
Subject Areas: 2 Curricular Units: 0 Lessons: 0 Details 
Python Calculus

Students analyze a cartoon of a Rube Goldberg machine and a Python programming language script to practice engineering analysis. In both cases, they study the examples to determine how the different s... ...moreStudents analyze a cartoon of a Rube Goldberg machine and a Python programming language script to practice engineering analysis. In both cases, they study the examples to determine how the different systems operate and the function of each component. This exercise in juxtaposition enables students to see the parallels between a more traditional mechanical engineering design and computer programming. Students also gain practice in analyzing two very different systems to fully understand how they work, similar to how engineers analyze systems and determine how they function and how changes to the system might affect the system. ...less 
Lesson 
20140321 
Subject Areas: 2 Curricular Units: 0 Activities: 1 Details 
Python Script Analysis

Working in small groups, students complete and run functioning Python codes. They begin by determining the missing commands in a sample piece of Python code that doubles all the elements of a given in... ...moreWorking in small groups, students complete and run functioning Python codes. They begin by determining the missing commands in a sample piece of Python code that doubles all the elements of a given input and sums the resulting values. Then students modify more advanced Python code, which numerically computes the slope of a tangent line by finding the slopes of progressively closer secant lines; to this code they add explanatory comments to describe the function of each line of code. This requires students to understand the logic employed in the Python code. Finally, students make modifications to the code in order to find the slopes of tangents to a variety of functions. ...less 
Activity 
20140321 
Subject Areas: 0 Curricular Units: 0 Lessons: 1 Details 
Tell Me the Odds (of Cancer)

Through four lessons and three handson activities, students learn the concepts of refraction and interference in order to solve an engineering challenge: "In 2013, actress Angelina Jolie underwent a ... ...moreThrough four lessons and three handson activities, students learn the concepts of refraction and interference in order to solve an engineering challenge: "In 2013, actress Angelina Jolie underwent a double mastectomy, not because she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but merely to lower her cancer risk. But what if she never inherited the gene(s) that are linked to breast cancer and endured surgery unnecessarily? Can we create a new method of assessing people's genetic risks of breast cancer that is both efficient and costeffective?" While pursuing a solution to this challenge, students learn about some hightech materials and delve into the properties of light, including the equations of refraction (index of refraction, Snell's law). Students ultimately propose a method to detect cancercausing genes by applying the refraction of light in a porous film in the form of an optical biosensor. Investigating this challenge question through this unit is designed for an honors or AP level physics class, although it could be modified for conceptual physics. ...less 
Curricular Unit 
20140320 
Subject Areas: 4 Lessons: 4 Activities: 3 Details 
Tell Me Doc—Will I Get Cancer?

Students are introduced to the unit challenge—discovering a new way to assess a person's risk of breast cancer. Solving this challenge requires knowledge of refraction and the properties of light. A... ...moreStudents are introduced to the unit challenge—discovering a new way to assess a person's risk of breast cancer. Solving this challenge requires knowledge of refraction and the properties of light. After being introduced to the challenge question, students generate ideas related to solving the challenge, and then read a short online article on optical biosensors that guides their research towards solving the problem. ...less 
Lesson 
20140320 
Subject Areas: 4 Curricular Units: 1 Activities: 0 Details 
What Does Light See?

Students are introduced to the concept of refraction. After making sure they understand the concepts of diffraction and interference, students work collaboratively to explain optical phenomena that ca... ...moreStudents are introduced to the concept of refraction. After making sure they understand the concepts of diffraction and interference, students work collaboratively to explain optical phenomena that cannot be accounted for via these two mechanisms alone. Then, through the associated activity, students see firsthand how refraction can work with interference to produce color patterns, similar to how nanosensors work. Finally, students apply their knowledge of refraction to the original challenge question to generate a possible solution in the form of a biosensor. ...less 
Lesson 
20140320 
Subject Areas: 3 Curricular Units: 1 Activities: 1 Details 
Quantifying Refraction

Students learn the relevant equations for refraction (index of refraction, Snell's law) and how to use them to predict the behavior of light waves in specified scenarios. After a brief review of the c... ...moreStudents learn the relevant equations for refraction (index of refraction, Snell's law) and how to use them to predict the behavior of light waves in specified scenarios. After a brief review of the concept of refraction (as learned in the previous lesson), the equations along with their units and variable definitions, are introduced. Student groups work through a few example conceptual and mathematical problems and receive feedback on their work. Then students conduct the associated activity during which they practice using the equations in a problem set, examine data from a porous film like those used in biosensors, and apply the equations they learned to a hypothetical scenario involving biosensors. ...less 
Lesson 
20140320 
Subject Areas: 3 Curricular Units: 1 Activities: 1 Details 