Flight of the Fruit: Weight, Gravity and Imagination Elementary School Activity
Published on June 16, 2020
Testing a model parachute can tell us many things and help us learn about a variety of concepts, such as proportionate size and scale, gravity, air resistance, weight relationships. In this freeform activity about preventing free-falling, students design their own model parachutes while considering factors in their test drops such as distance, weight, and time.
Doing the Math: Analysis of Forces in a Truss Bridge High School Lesson
Published on June 11, 2020
In this lesson, students learn the basics of the analysis of forces engineers perform at the truss joints to calculate the strength of a truss bridge. This method is known as the “method of joints.” Finding the tensions and compressions using this method will be necessary to solve systems of linear equations where the size depends on the number of elements and nodes in the truss. The method of joints is the core of a graphic interface created by the author in Google Sheets that students can use to estimate the tensions-compressions on the truss elements under given loads, as well as the maximum load a wood truss structure may hold (depending on the specific wood the truss is made of) and the thickness of its elements.
Trust in the Truss: Design a Wooden Bridge High School Activity
Published on June 11, 2020
In this activity students design, construct, and test the strength of a wooden truss bridge and satisfy certain conditions like span, strength, and cost. Students perform the truss bridge strength estimation using a graphic interface that determine stress-compression on the truss elements using the method of joints. Students consider their materials’ hypothetical costs and test their constructed bridges to verify load strength. Expect that the bridges can resist at least 90% of their estimated strength and in case of failure, students have to determine the possible causes.
Nanotechnology in Action: Organic Electronics High School Activity
Published on May 13, 2020
This activity focuses on the use of graphene in organic fibers, and their applications in organic electronics, e-textiles and wearable technologies. Students learn about the properties of graphene—a unique form of carbon—and how graphene-based fibers are fabricated, how to measure resistance, how to calculate resistivity, and how a material changes its electrical properties. Students also learn about the importance of defining design parameters, which is an important concept in the engineering design process. Students create graphite-based fibers using sodium alginate as the medium and a calcium coagulation bath, which is similar to the way in which graphene-based fibers are created in engineering research laboratories. Students then determine the factors that contribute to resistivity and vary these parameters to optimize fiber resistivity.
Exploring Variables While Testing & Improving Mint-Mobiles (for High School) High School Activity
Published on April 16, 2020
What can round mint candies and coins teach us about engineering? More than you might think, particularly when it comes to dependent and independent variables! In this activity, students design, build and test model race cars made from simple materials (lifesaver-shaped candies, plastic drinking straws, Popsicle sticks, index cards, tape). Students work within a budget to explore tradeoffs of various design constraints and practice the steps of the engineering design process by brainstorming, planning, building, testing, and improving their "mint-mobiles." Then, students explore variables and predict their performance of their mint-mobiles by changing the mass of their cars.
Exploring Variables While Testing & Improving Mint-Mobiles (for Middle School) Middle School Activity
Published on April 15, 2020
Mint candies aren’t just a tasty treat; they are useful in learning about engineering concepts! In this activity, students design, build and test model race cars made from simple materials (lifesaver-shaped candies, plastic drinking straws, Popsicle sticks, index cards, tape) as a way to explore independent, dependent and control variables. They measure the changes in distance travelled with the addition of mass to the vehicles. Students also practice the steps of the engineering design process by brainstorming, planning, building, testing, and improving their "mint-mobiles."
Computer Simulation of an Artificial Neural Network High School Activity
Published on April 1, 2020
Using the Netlogo platform to run simulations of a basic neural network called the perceptron, students explore a basic, yet powerful, model of machine learning as they are challenged to understand the logic. Students engage in the perceptron model and discover a weakness of the model. The students then move on to run simulations on Netlogo with the multi-layer perceptron which overcomes the weakness in the original perceptron model.
Constructing and Testing a 3D Printed Glove with Strain Sensors High School Activity
Published on February 29, 2020
In this activity, students apply their newfound knowledge of 3D printing and strain sensors and use it to create their own prototype. Students investigate how to integrate 3D printed strain sensors into a glove and analyze how the sensors work in relation to the feedback that they provide. Students also learn how to measure electrical resistance using a multimeter and apply their knowledge of data analysis track the effectiveness of their prototype.
Acting Like an Algorithm Elementary School Activity
Published on February 28, 2020
This activity allows students to gain a better understanding for how algorithms work. Students engage in an activity which symbolizes the Google PageRank algorithm. Students divide into groups and follow specific steps, in the form of a ball game, in order to match the results of the Google PageRank algorithm. They also gain a general understanding for the functionality of networking on the internet. Students visualize the fundamental importance of algorithms, which can make calculations fast and easy.
Liquid Crystal Thermometers Elementary School Activity
Published on February 26, 2020
Students become engineers as they create thermometers that can be used to monitor temperatures in reptile terrariums. By using liquid crystals, students learn about the characteristics of materials and wavelengths of light emissions. Students then apply this knowledge to make a liquid crystal thermometer and test it at various temperatures. Students then iterate their thermometer designs by using different mixtures of the liquid crystal formula to optimize the temperature range for their project’s environmental needs.
Preventing the Zombie Apocalypse- Making Gene Therapy Safe! High School Activity
Published on January 31, 2020
Students become biomedical engineers and create model viruses for use in therapeutic applications, such as gene therapy. In constructing their models, students carefully plan for side effects and modify a virus that can be used to safely to deliver gene therapy. This process involves taking a “wild type” (or unmodified) virus so it can target a specific area of the body.
Radiation Pressure: The Feel of Photons High School Activity
Published on January 30, 2020
Students take an illuminance reading of a light, find a way to approximate it at as an intensity reading, and then calculate the photon flux and radiation pressure while assessing the precision of these values. The ideas are then applied to speculate about engineering challenges involved in using ground-based lasers to propel interstellar spacecraft. In the process students must work through challenging problem solving and analyze the confidence in their results. There is also emphasis on comparing and contrasting the scientific method to the engineering design process.
Let’s Get Cracking! High School Activity
Published on December 31, 2019
In this activity, students become biomedical and material engineers as they analyze material characteristics, composite characteristics and properties of a chicken bone under force. To understand these material characteristics, students perform a battery of tests at various “stations” around the classroom that evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a product based on the material characteristics of its component materials.
Design a Better Bandage Elementary School Maker Challenge
Published on December 16, 2019
In this maker challenge, students follow the engineering design process and use water-absorbing crystals to create a bandage that can 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. Later, students design a new bandage while following a budget as well as some constraints. In conclusion, students discuss whether or not their design would be effective in the real world.
Inundation Inspiration Elementary School Maker Challenge
Published on December 16, 2019
Students employ the engineering design process to create a device that uses water-absorbing crystals for use during a flood or storm surge. Students first spend time making notes on a teacher-led observation of how water-absorbing crystals. Later, they use (or build) a toy house, follow the engineering design process to build their device, and subject the house to tests that mimic a heavy flood or rising tides. After testing, students can iterate on their designs or reflect on what they learned.