Spaghetti Bridges Middle School Activity
Civil engineers design structures such as buildings, dams, highways and bridges. Student teams explore the field of engineering by making bridges using spaghetti as their primary building material. Then they test their bridges to see how much weight they can carry before breaking.
Bouncing Balls: Collisions, Momentum & Math (for High School) High School Activity
In this activity, students examine how different balls react when colliding with different surfaces. Also, they will have plenty of opportunity to learn how to calculate momentum and understand the principle of conservation of momentum.
Water Cycle Elementary School CurricularUnit
Water is essential to life. Understanding how the water cycle works, the importance of water as a natural resource, and how our household water cycle functions is essential knowledge for everyone. Through a range of water-based explorations and the engineering design process, students learn about the water cycle and how engineers manage it.
Creating an Electromagnet Elementary School Activity
Student teams investigate the properties of electromagnets. They create their own small electromagnets and experiment with ways to change their strength to pick up more paperclips. Students learn about ways that engineers use electromagnets in everyday applications.
Saltwater Circuit Middle School Activity
Students build a saltwater circuit, which is an electrical circuit that uses saltwater as part of the circuit. 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.
Backyard Weather Station Middle School Activity
Students use their senses to describe what the weather is doing and predict what it might do next. After gaining a basic understanding of weather patterns, students act as state park engineers and design/build backyard weather stations to gather data and make weather forecasts.
Physics of Roller Coasters Middle School Lesson
Students explore the physics exploited by engineers in designing today's roller coasters, including potential and kinetic energy, friction and gravity. First, they learn that all true roller coasters are completely driven by the force of gravity and that the conversion between potential and kinetic energy is essential to all roller coasters. Second, they consider the role of friction in slowing down cars in roller coasters. Finally, they examine the acceleration of roller coaster cars as they travel around the track. During the associated activity, students design, build and analyze model roller coasters they make using foam tubing and marbles (as the cars).
The Science of Swinging Elementary School Lesson
Students learn what a pendulum is and how it works in the context of amusement park rides. While exploring the physics of pendulums, they are also introduced to Newton's first law of motion — about continuous motion and inertia.
Biomimicry: Natural Designs Elementary School Activity
Students learn about biomimicry and how engineers often imitate nature in the design of innovative new products. They demonstrate their knowledge of biomimicry by practicing brainstorming and designing a new product based on what they know about animals and nature.
Engineering an Animal’s Survival Elementary School Activity
This unique engineering activity explores helping animals that cannot help themselves. Students perform research and design prosthetic prototypes for an animal to use for its survival. First, students choose an animal from a set of task cards. These cards have descriptions of animals that have injuries that keep them from getting what they need in the wild. Next, students work in pairs to research these animals and their habitats. They then create habitats for their animals to live and model 3D prosthetics for the animals to use with modeling clay. Finally, students share their habitats with their peers.
Bacteria Are Everywhere! Middle School Activity
Students are introduced to the concept of engineering biological organisms and studying their growth to be able to identify periods of fast and slow growth. They learn that bacteria are found everywhere, including on the surfaces of our hands. Student groups study three different conditions under which bacteria are found and compare the growth of the individual bacteria from each source. In addition to monitoring the quantity of bacteria from differ conditions, they record the growth of bacteria over time, which is an excellent tool to study binary fission and the reproduction of unicellular organisms.
Let’s Plan an Experiment: What Do Plants Need? Elementary School Lesson
In an introductory discussion, students identify the physical needs of animals and then speculate on the needs of plants. With teacher guidance, students then design an experiment that can take place in the classroom to test whether or not plants need light and water in order to grow. This prepares them to conduct the associated activity in which sunflower seeds are planted in plastic cups, and once germinated, are exposed to different conditions. In a classroom setting it is easy to test for the effects of light versus darkness, and watered versus non-watered conditions. During exposure of the plants to these different conditions, students measure growth of the seedlings every few days using non-standard measurement. After a few weeks, they compare the growth of plants exposed to the different conditions, and make pictorial bar graphs that demonstrate these comparisons.
Car Collision Testing & Tradeoffs: Don’t Crack Humpty Middle School Activity
Student groups are provided with a generic car base on which to design a device/enclosure to protect an egg as it rolls down a ramp at increasing slopes. During this in-depth physics-science-technology-math activity, student teams design, build and test their prototype creations to meet the design challenge, and then perform basic mathematical calculations using collected data, including a summative cost-benefit ratio. The activity has great potential to build on with additional physics and math explorations. Many student handouts are provided.
Triangles Everywhere: Sum of Angles in Polygons High School Activity
Students learn about regular polygons and the common characteristics of regular polygons. They relate their mathematical knowledge of these shapes to the presence of these shapes in the human-made structures around us, especially trusses. Through a guided worksheet and teamwork, students explore the idea of dividing regular polygons into triangles, calculating the sums of angles in polygons using triangles, and identifying angles in shapes using protractors. They derive equations 1) for the sum of interior angles in a regular polygon, and 2) to find the measure of each angle in a regular n-gon. This activity extends students’ knowledge to engineering design and truss construction. This activity is the middle step in a series on polygons and trusses, and prepares students for the Polygon and Popsicle Trusses associated activity.
Geometry Solutions: Design and Play Mini-Golf High School Activity
Students learn about geometric relationships by solving real mini putt examples on paper and then using putters and golf balls to experiment with the teacher’s pre-made mini put hole(s) framed by 2 x 4s, comparing their calculated (theoretical) results to real-world results. To “solve the holes,” they find the reflections of angles and then solve for those angles. They do this for 1-, 2- and 3-banked hole-in-one shots. Next, students apply their newly learned skills to design, solve and build their own mini putt holes, also made of 2 x 4s and steel corners.
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