Paper Circuits Greeting Cards Activity
Light up your love with paper circuits this February—no soldering required! Create a sure-to-impress flashing birthday card or design a light-up Christmas card—all with paper circuits! In this activity, students are guided through the process to create simple paper circuitry using only copper tape, a coin cell battery, a light-emitting diode (LED) and small electronic components such as a LilyPad Button Board. Making light-up greeting cards with paper circuitry is great way to teach the basics of how circuits function while giving students an outlet to express their artistic creativity.
Solar Water Heater Activity
Student teams design and build solar water heating devices that mimic those used in residences to capture energy in the form of solar radiation and convert it to thermal energy. This thermal energy is next transferred to water (to be used as domestic hot water) in the form of heat. In doing this, students gain a better understanding of the three different types of heat transfer, each of which plays a role in the solar water heater design. Once the model devices are constructed, students perform efficiency calculations and compare designs.
Students examine how the power output of a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel is affected by temperature changes. Using a 100-watt lamp and a small PV panel connected to a digital multimeter, teams vary the temperature of the panel and record the resulting voltage output. They plot the panel's power output and calculate the panel's temperature coefficient.
Students learn the difference between global, prevailing, and local winds. They make wind vanes out of paper, straws, and soda bottles and use them to measure wind direction over time. They analyze their data to draw conclusions about the local prevailing winds.
Fun with Leaf Chromatography! Activity
Shine a light on the fascinating world of chromatography! Students investigate different colored pigments in a variety of leaves. By using isopropanol and chromatography paper, students separate the different pigments that make up the color of the leaf. They also learn about pigmentation by making sense of the process of the phenomena of photosynthesis, and that producers (or plants), have chlorophyll which absorbs the sunlight to produce the food they need to survive.
Absorbing Airplane Noise! Activity
Did you know engineers play a key role in designing buildings that can withstand or limit the amount of noise from nearby machines? In this activity, students engineer a solution to reduce airplane noise for a school located directly next to a large international airport. Using the engineering design process, they construct a model building that best keeps out loud sound so that students in the school are not disturbed throughout the day.
Water Bottle Rockets Activity
What makes rockets fly straight? What makes rockets fly far? Why use water to make the rocket fly? Students are challenged to design and build rockets from two-liter plastic soda bottles that travel as far and straight as possible or stay aloft as long as possible!
The Magician's Catapult Activity
Reinforce student 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.
Engineering an Animal’s Survival Activity
This unique engineering activity explores helping animals that cannot help themselves. Students research prototypes for an animal to use for its survival and create habitats for their animals to live in using model 3D prosthetics or modeling clay.
Building Tetrahedral Kites Activity
Working in teams of four, students build tetrahedral kites following specific instructions and using specific materials. They use the basic processes of manufacturing systems – cutting, shaping, forming, conditioning, assembling, joining, finishing, and quality control – to manufacture complete tetrahedral kites within a given time frame.
Building a Piezoelectric Generator Activity
Build simple piezoelectric generators to power LEDs! In this activity, students incorporate into a circuit a piezoelectric element that converts movements they make into electrical energy, which is stored in a capacitor. Once enough energy is stored, they flip a switch to light up an LED. Students also learn how much (surprisingly little) energy can be converted using the current state of technology for piezoelectric materials.
Swing in Time Activity
Studying the motion of pendulums helps students gain an understanding of the use of timing and intervals in engineering. In this activity student groups conduct an experiment and collect and graph data based on their findings. The test different weights and make predictions about the period of time in which their pendulums swing.
Reaction Exposed: The Big Chill! Activity
Discover the primary relationships to engineering that exist between bench scale and full scale in this activity, where students investigate how citric acid and sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda) react to form sodium citrate, water, and carbon dioxide. By analyzing the test matrix data, they determine the optimum quantities to use in their own production companies to minimize material cost and maximize carbon dioxide production.
Saltwater Circuit Activity
How conductive is saltwater compared to freshwater, if at all? In this activity, students investigate the conductivity of saltwater and develop an understanding of how the amount of salt in a solution impacts how much electrical current flows through the circuit. They learn about one real-world application of a saltwater circuit — as a desalination plant tool to test for the removal of salt from ocean water.
Breathe in... breathe out... ahhh! In this activity, students explore the inhalation/exhalation process that occurs in the lungs during respiration. Using everyday materials, each student team designs a lung model.
To Pollinate or Not to Pollinate Activity
By studying how bees and flowers interact with one another, we can also understand engineering practices related to our environment! In this activity, students engineer a model of a flower to test different materials’ ability to pollinate another flower.
Paper Circuits Greeting Cards Activity
Create a sure-to-impress flashing birthday card or design a light-up holiday card—all with paper circuits! In this activity, students are guided through the process to create simple paper circuitry using only copper tape, a coin cell battery, a light-emitting diode (LED) and small electronic components such as a LilyPad Button Board.
Edible Rovers Activity
Design a Mars exploratory rover, with a tasty twist! In this activity, students evaluate rover equipment options and determine what edible parts fit in a NASA budget that the teacher provides. With a parts list, teams use these constraints to design for their rover. The students build and display their edible rover at a concluding design review.
Stack It Up! Activity
Learn how to design an amazing engineering marvel from the ancient world: the pyramid! In this activity, students work in engineering teams to perform calculations to determine the area of the pyramid base, stone block volumes, and the number of blocks required for their pyramid base. Students also make a scaled drawing of the pyramid using graph paper.
Make Your Own Temperature Scale Activity
What's the difference between temperature and thermal energy? Have your students explore these concept as they use the engineering design process to create thermometers using simple materials and to develop their own scales for measuring temperature. They compare their thermometers to a commercial thermometer, and get a sense for why engineers need to understand the properties of thermal energy.
Keep Your Cool! Design Your Own Cooler Challenge Maker Challenge
Keep cool this summer with a student-driven cooler design! In this activity, students work through the engineering design process and brainstorm a design of their cooler and its attributes. They then choose from the materials provided to create a prototype. Students have the opportunity to test their prototype by measuring the room temperature, the starting temperature of the water and graphing, and monitoring the change in temperature over increments time in comparison to the room temperature water.
Design Your Own Nano-Polymer Smartphone Case Maker Challenge
Students work through the engineering design process to design and create their own nano-polymer smartphone or tablet case. Students choose their design, mix their nano-polymer (based in silicone) with starch and add coloring of their choice. While thinking critically about their design, students embed strings in the nano-polymer to optimize both case strength and flexibility.
Make sense of the problem of drinking water contamination. In this activity, students explore how substances such as prescription medication, pesticides and hormones are found in municipal drinking water sources. Using chlorine as a proxy for pharmaceuticals found in water, student groups design and test prototype devices that remove the contamination as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Why do some objects float while others sink? Students make sense of this phenomenon by engaging in the science and engineering practices of asking questions and defining problems, using models, and designing solutions. Students then apply what they discover to solve everyday situations, such as preventing a car from sinking.
Element, Mixture, Compound Activity
Element, mixture, or compound? In this classic activity, students gain a better understanding of the different types of materials engineers use, such as pure substances and mixtures. They also learn to distinguish between homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures by discussing an assortment of example materials they use and encounter in their daily lives.
Leaning Tower of Pasta Activity
A classic TeachEngineering activity! Using spaghetti and marshmallows, students experiment with different structures to determine which ones are able to handle the greatest amount of load. Their experiments help them to further understand the effects that compression and tension forces have with respect to the strength of structures
Creating an Electromagnet Activity
What are the properties of electromagnets? In this activity, students create their own small electromagnets and experiment with ways to change their strength to pick up paper clips. Learn about ways that engineers use electromagnets in everyday applications!
Design a Better Bandage Maker Challenge
What might make a bandage better? In this challenge, students follow the engineering design process and use water-absorbing crystals to create a bandage that may be used in a traumatic situation, like a car accident or hiking accident. Students first observe how water-absorbing crystals work and then consider how their function could be applied in a medical setting
What can roller coasters teach us about math and physics? In this activity, students apply high school-level differential calculus and physics to the design of two-dimensional roller coasters while considering frictional forces. In a challenge the mirrors real-world engineering, the roller coaster must be made from at least five differentiable functions. Teams build and test small-sized prototype models of the exact designs using foam pipe wrap insulation as the roller coaster track channel and using marbles as the ride "carts."
Design a Solar City Activity
In a time when creating clean energy is essential to the future health of our planet, engineers are looking for every way possible to produce carbon-free power. In this activity, students design and build a model city powered by the sun! They learn about the benefits of solar power, and how architectural and building engineers integrate photovoltaic panels into the design of buildings.