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Energy Systems and Solutions

The Energy Systems and Solutions unit brings students through the exploration of science and engineering concepts as they relate to energy issues in everyday life. Issues surrounding energy production... ...moreThe Energy Systems and Solutions unit brings students through the exploration of science and engineering concepts as they relate to energy issues in everyday life. Issues surrounding energy production and energy consumption provide a relevant theme for learning basic science, math and engineering concepts, and also provide a convenient platform for introducing current scientific and technological developments into the curriculum. Energyrelated issues touch the lives of every student. This projectbased curriculum follows an engineering problem solving approach; students simultaneously learn and use scientific and mathematical content and processes as they solve an energyrelated problem that is meaningful to them. By challenging them with a problem to solve, students are engaged in scientific and engineering processes, thereby reinforcing subject matter retention and targeting a wide range of learning styles in the classroom. The unit is organized into three main sections. The first section includes various activities designed to help students understand the problem at hand—namely, the issues surrounding our society's energy situation—so that they can realize the importance of what they are studying and the significance of their proposed solutions. An understanding of the problem forms the basis for the student learning that takes place in the second section, which includes basic energy concepts (forms, states, conversions, efficiency, etc.), content required by state and federal science educational standards. Students learn these concepts by participating engaging activities designed to show the relevance of the science material to the real world as well as to the solution of their assigned problem. Finally, in the last section of the unit, students apply the concepts they learned to complete a culminating project that requires them to consider what actions they can take to reduce our dependence of fossil fuels or otherwise provide a positive solution for our current energy crisis. ...less 
Curricular Unit 
20140923 
Subject Areas: 3 Lessons: 8 Activities: 17 Details 
Air Pollution

Students are introduced to the concept of air quality by investigating the composition, properties, atmospheric layers and everyday importance of air. They explore the sources and effects of visible a... ...moreStudents are introduced to the concept of air quality by investigating the composition, properties, atmospheric layers and everyday importance of air. They explore the sources and effects of visible and invisible air pollution. By learning some fundamental meteorology concepts (air pressure, barometers, prediction, convection currents, temperature inversions), students learn the impact of weather on air pollution control and prevention. Looking at models and maps, they explore the consequences of pollutant transport via weather and water cycles. Students are introduced to acids, bases and pH, and the environmental problem of acid rain, including how engineers address this type of pollution. Using simple models, they study the greenhouse effect, the impact of increased greenhouse gases on the planet's protective ozone layer and the global warming theory. Students explore the causes and effects of the Earth's ozone holes through an interactive simulation. Students identify the types and sources of indoor air pollutants in their school and home, evaluating actions that can be taken to reduce and prevent poor indoor air quality. By building and observing a few simple models of pollutant recovery methods, students explore the modern industrial technologies designed by engineers to clean up and prevent air pollution. ...less 
Curricular Unit 
20140923 
Subject Areas: 3 Lessons: 10 Activities: 32 Details 
Energy of Motion

By taking a look at the energy of motion all around us, students learn about the types of energy and their characteristics. They first learn about the two simplest forms of mechanical energy: kinetic ... ...moreBy taking a look at the energy of motion all around us, students learn about the types of energy and their characteristics. They first learn about the two simplest forms of mechanical energy: kinetic and potential energy, as illustrated by pendulums and roller coasters. They come to understand that energy can change from one form into another, and be described and determined by equations. Through the example of a waterwheel, the concepts of and differences between work and power are explained and calculated. Conservation of momentum and collisions are explored, with analogies to popular sports (billiards, baseball, golf), and how elastic and inelastic collisions are considered in the games' design. To show another energy transformation concept, the behavior of energy dissipating into heat by means of friction is presented. Students learn to recognize static friction, kinetic friction and drag, how they work, and how to calculate frictional force. A final lesson integrates the energy of motion concepts, showing how they are interconnected in everyday applications such as skateboards, scooters, roller coasters, trains, cars, planes, trucks and elevators. Through numerous handson activities, students swing pendulums, use plastic twoliter bottles to construct model waterwheels, bounce different types of balls, use weights to generate friction data, and roll balls down ramps to collide into cups. ...less 
Curricular Unit 
20140923 
Subject Areas: 3 Lessons: 5 Activities: 9 Details 
Mechanics Mania

Through 10 lessons and numerous activities, students explore the natural universal rules engineers and physicists use to understand how things move and stay still. Together, these rules are called "me... ...moreThrough 10 lessons and numerous activities, students explore the natural universal rules engineers and physicists use to understand how things move and stay still. Together, these rules are called "mechanics." The study of mechanics is a way to improve our understanding of everyday movements, such as how gravity pulls things together, how objects balance, spin and twirl, and how things fly and fall. While studying Newton's three laws of motion, students gain handson experience with the concepts of forces, changes in motion, and action and reaction. Through handson activities, students model the behavior of parachutes and helicopters, closely examine falling objects, build and use a spring scale, examine collisions between skateboards, make model rockets with balloons and string, collect data from cotton ball catapults, study friction with small hovercrafts made from old CDs and balloons, experiment with center of mass by balancing objects on coat hangers and strings, compete to design clay beams with the best strengthtoweight ratio, experiment with weight distribution on homemade spinning tops, experiment with string length, weight and angle of release of pendulums made from fishing weights and string, and use marshmallows and spaghetti to construct their own structures to see which can hold the most weight. For each lesson, associated literacy activities provide additional student engagement. See the Unit Overview section for a list of topics by lesson and descriptions of the associated literacy activities. ...less 
Curricular Unit 
20140923 
Subject Areas: 2 Lessons: 10 Activities: 25 Details 
Photovoltaic Efficiency

Through a series of four lessons, students are introduced to many factors that affect the power output of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. Factors such as the angle of the sun, panel temperature, speci... ...moreThrough a series of four lessons, students are introduced to many factors that affect the power output of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. Factors such as the angle of the sun, panel temperature, specific circuit characteristics, and reflected radiation determine the efficiency of solar panels. These four lessons are paired with handson activities in which students design, build and test small photovoltaic systems. Students collect their own data, and examine different variables to determine their effects on the efficiency of PV panels to generate electrical power. ...less 
Curricular Unit 
20140923 
Subject Areas: 2 Lessons: 4 Activities: 4 Details 
All Caught Up: Bycatching and Design

Bycatch, the unintended capture of animals in commercial fishing gear, is a hot topic in marine conservation today. The surprisingly high level of bycatch—about 25% of the entire global catch—is r... ...moreBycatch, the unintended capture of animals in commercial fishing gear, is a hot topic in marine conservation today. The surprisingly high level of bycatch—about 25% of the entire global catch—is responsible for the decline of hundreds of thousands of dolphins, whales, porpoises, seabirds and sea turtles each year. Through this curricular unit, students analyze the significance of bycatch in the global ecosystem and propose solutions to help reduce bycatch. They become familiar with current attempts to reduce the fishing mortality of these animals. Through the associated activities, the challenges faced today are reinforced and students are stimulated to brainstorm about possible engineering designs or policy changes that could reduce the magnitude of bycatch. ...less 
Curricular Unit 
20140923 
Subject Areas: 3 Lessons: 2 Activities: 3 Details 
Cellular Respiration and Population Growth

Through two lessons and their associated activities, students explore cellular respiration and population growth in yeasts. Yeast cells are readily obtained and behave predictably, so they are very su... ...moreThrough two lessons and their associated activities, students explore cellular respiration and population growth in yeasts. Yeast cells are readily obtained and behave predictably, so they are very suitable for use in middle school classrooms. Students are presented with information that enables them to recognize that yeasts are unicellular organisms that are useful to humans. ...less 
Curricular Unit 
20140923 
Subject Areas: 2 Lessons: 2 Activities: 2 Details 
Bone Mineral Density and Logarithms

Students examine an image produced by a cabinet xray system to determine if it is a quality bone mineral density image. They write in their journals about what they need to know to be able to make th... ...moreStudents examine an image produced by a cabinet xray system to determine if it is a quality bone mineral density image. They write in their journals about what they need to know to be able to make this judgment. Students learn about what bone mineral density is, how a BMD image can be obtained, and how it is related to the xray field. Students examine the process used to obtain a BMD image and how this process is related to mathematics, primarily through logarithmic functions. They study the relationship between logarithms and exponents, the properties of logarithms, common and natural logarithms, solving exponential equations and Beer's law. ...less 
Curricular Unit 
20140923 
Subject Areas: 1 Lessons: 4 Activities: 3 Details 
Walk the Line: A Module on Linear Functions

Prepared with prealgebra or algebra 1 classes in mind, this module leads students through the process of graphing data and finding a line of best fit while exploring the characteristics of linear equ... ...morePrepared with prealgebra or algebra 1 classes in mind, this module leads students through the process of graphing data and finding a line of best fit while exploring the characteristics of linear equations in algebraic and graphic formats. Then, these topics are connected to realworld experiences in which people use linear functions. During the module, students use these scientific concepts to solve the following hypothetical challenge: You are a new researcher in a lab, and your boss has just given you your first task to analyze a set of data. It being your first assignment, you ask an undergraduate student working in your lab to help you figure it out. She responds that you must determine what the data represents and then find an equation that models the data. You believe that you will be able to determine what the data represents on your own, but you ask for further help modeling the data. In response, she says she is not completely sure how to do it, but gives a list of equations that may fit the data. This module is built around the legacy cycle, a format that incorporates educational research feindings on how people best learn. ...less 
Curricular Unit 
20140923 
Subject Areas: 1 Lessons: 5 Activities: 4 Details 
The Energy Problem

This sixday lesson provides students with an introduction to the importance of energy in their lives and the need to consider how and why we consume the energy we do. The lesson's associated activiti... ...moreThis sixday lesson provides students with an introduction to the importance of energy in their lives and the need to consider how and why we consume the energy we do. The lesson's associated activities engage students in general energy issues, including playing an awardwinning Energy Choices board game, and an optional graphing activity that provides experience with MS Excel graphing and perspectives on how we use energy and how much energy we use. ...less 
Lesson 
20140923 
Subject Areas: 3 Curricular Units: 1 Activities: 4 Details 
