preview of 'Stations of Light' Activity

May 2024

Stations of Light Activity

Student groups rotate through four stations to examine light energy behavior: refraction, magnification, prisms and polarization. They see how a beam of light is refracted (bent) through various transparent mediums. While learning how a magnifying glass works, students see how the orientation of an image changes with the distance of the lens from its focal point. They also discover how a prism works by refracting light and making rainbows. And, students investigate the polar nature of light using sunglasses and polarized light film.

preview of 'DNA Build' Activity

April 2024

DNA Build Activity

Students reinforce their knowledge that DNA is the genetic material for all living things by modeling it using toothpicks and gumdrops that represent the four biochemicals (adenine, thiamine, guanine, and cytosine) that pair with each other in a specific pattern, making a double helix. They investigate specific DNA sequences that code for certain physical characteristics such as eye and hair color. Student teams trade DNA "strands" and de-code the genetic sequences to determine the physical characteristics (phenotype) displayed by the strands (genotype) from other groups. Students extend their knowledge to learn about DNA fingerprinting and recognizing DNA alterations that may result in genetic disorders.

preview of 'Trash Talkin'' Activity

March 2024

Trash Talkin' Activity

Students collect, categorize, weigh, and analyze classroom solid waste. The class collects waste for a week and then student groups spend a day sorting and analyzing the garbage with respect to recyclable and non-recyclable items. They discuss ways that engineers have helped to reduce the accumulation of solid waste.

preview of 'Paper Circuits Greeting Cards' Activity

February 2024

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.

preview of 'Solar Water Heater' Activity

January 2024

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.

preview of 'Photovoltaics & Temperature: Ice, Ice, PV!' Activity

December 2023

Photovoltaics & Temperature: Ice, Ice, PV! Activity

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.

preview of 'Wild Wind! Making Weather Vanes to Find Prevailing Winds' Activity

November 2023

Wild Wind! Making Weather Vanes to Find Prevailing Winds Activity

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.

preview of 'Fun with Leaf Chromatography!' Activity

October 2023

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.

preview of 'Absorbing Airplane Noise! ' Activity

September 2023

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.

preview of 'Water Bottle Rockets' Activity

August 2023

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!

preview of 'The Magician's Catapult' Activity

July 2023

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.

preview of 'Engineering an Animal’s Survival ' Activity

June 2023

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.

preview of 'Building Tetrahedral Kites' Activity

May 2023

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.

preview of 'Building a Piezoelectric Generator' Activity

April 2023

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.

preview of 'Swing in Time' Activity

March 2023

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.

preview of 'Reaction Exposed: The Big Chill!' Activity

February 2023

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.

preview of 'Saltwater Circuit' Activity

January 2023

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.

preview of 'Creating Model Working Lungs: Just Breathe ' Activity

December 2022

Creating Model Working Lungs: Just Breathe Activity

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.

preview of 'To Pollinate or Not to Pollinate' Activity

November 2022

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.

preview of 'Paper Circuits Greeting Cards' Activity

October 2022

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.

preview of 'Edible Rovers' Activity

September 2022

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.

preview of 'Stack It Up!' Activity

August 2022

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.

preview of 'Make Your Own Temperature Scale' Activity

July 2022

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.

preview of 'Keep Your Cool! Design Your Own Cooler Challenge' Maker Challenge

June 2022

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.

preview of 'Design Your Own Nano-Polymer Smartphone Case' Maker Challenge

May 2022

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.

preview of 'Protect Your Body, Filter Your Water!' Activity

April 2022

Protect Your Body, Filter Your Water! Activity

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.

preview of 'Sink or Float? Engineering Solutions for a Sticky Situation' Activity

March 2022

Sink or Float? Engineering Solutions for a Sticky Situation Activity

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.

preview of 'Element, Mixture, Compound' Activity

February 2022

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.

preview of 'Leaning Tower of Pasta' Activity

January 2022

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

preview of 'Creating an Electromagnet' Activity

December 2021

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!

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