Evaporation and Transpiration: What’s Your Function? Middle School Activity
Published on October 20, 2021
What’s the difference between two common agricultural methods? What are the roles engineers play in designing better methods? In this activity, students calculate evapotranspiration rates--the amount of water lost from evaporation and transpiration in a growing media (such as a pot or jar) and plant surfaces-- for living plants using soil and hydroponics. By recording changes in plant weight, students calculate evapotranspiration rates and determine which of the two growing methods is best for their design.
Paper Towers and Pool Balls Design Challenge High School Activity
Published on October 19, 2021
How can teamwork and project-based learning help us understanding engineering practices? In this activity, students are presented with two problems that must be solved physically. In the first problem, they must construct the tallest tower possible out of limited materials. In the second problem, they must find a way for a rolling pool ball to take a set maximum time to cover a specified distance. Students create and follow a design and are assessed by the performance of their creations. The students use the Engineering Design Process (EDP) to complete the two hands-on activities. This is an experiential learning experience for the student where they learn to collaborate ideas between teams, while also competing against each other. The sharing of knowledge is the path.
Balancing Liquid on a Coin: How Intermolecular Forces Work High School Activity
Published on October 19, 2021
What can the act of balancing liquid on the surface of a coin tell us about the water molecules and molecular formulas? In this activity, students observe different types of intermolecular forces of water through two simple experiments. During this introductory activity students have hands-on experience visualizing the effects of hydrogen bonding through surface tension and evaporation.
What is Python? High School Activity
Published on September 25, 2021
Coding is a critical tool in most modern applications and can be a useful skill for engineers to apply in a variety of design settings. In this activity, students learn basic coding in Python, a high-level language that is known for its ease of use and various applications. They learn to make sense of basic programming structures such as variables, objects, classes, and instances, and programming concepts such as if-else statements, loops, and functions. In addition, within the discussion of Python syntax, students learn about operators (such as “=”) and their use in programming versus mathematics. After a brief lecture, students complete a Jupyter Notebook activity that will guide them through (1) using a Jupyter Notebook to run pre-written Python code and (2) plotting linear and quadratic functions and editing existing plots using Python code.
Observing Cell Structures With Fluorescent Dyes Middle School Activity
Published on August 30, 2021
In this design analysis activity, students make sense of technologies used to help visualize cell functions down to the nanometer scale such as con-focal microscopes, lasers, and customized fluorescent dyes. Students design and test new ideas to image plant cells using common household items and improve upon the process with testing. Using the iodine solution process as a control, student teams plan how to image the cells, evaluate the results and make recommendations to improve the imaging process.
Mathematical Modeling- Linear Approximations High School Lesson
Published on August 6, 2021
Students investigate the idea of linear approximation. Students apply mathematical modeling, specifically linear approximation, to an already collected data set to make a prediction. In this lesson, students first engage in a warm-up that is not a perfectly linear data set, being exposed to this for the first time. Students take on the role as a packaging engineer to learn the process to apply linear approximation modeling: collecting data, creating a graph, drawing a line-of-fit, creating a model in the form of an equation, defining the model’s variables, and evaluating with the model. Students ultimately use their linear model to predict the net weight of cereal in grams contained by 260 square inches of cardboard packaging.
Judgement with Jellybeans High School Activity
Published on August 6, 2021
Students collect data and apply mathematical modeling, specifically linear approximation, to predict what will happen in a specific situation. In this activity, students collect data to determine the number of Jelly Belly jelly beans it takes to fill up the respective tube. Students plot their data, graph a linear approximation model, and write an equation representing their model. Students use their linear model to predict the number of Jelly Belly jelly beans that are in a similar cylindrical tube with a given height. Students discuss the accuracy of their results and limitations in their model and data collection process. They then apply their predictions to make suggestions to Jelly Belly for potential packaging of jelly beans based on quantity instead of net weight.
Using Jupyter Notebooks to Explore Waves Middle School Activity
Published on June 30, 2021
As an introduction to analyzing sinusoidal waves, students learn how to use a Jupyter Notebook. They learn how to identify the frequency, wavelength, amplitude, period, and phase of a simple sinusoidal waveform. As they learn how to label the parts and properties of the waves, they connect these characteristics of waves to various real-world wave examples such as ocean waves, visible light, and sound. Students will examine a mathematical model of a sinusoidal waveform and connect each variable to its corresponding wave property. They will manipulate each variable of the model using Python code in a Jupyter Notebook and examine the effect of changing each variable on the resulting waveform.
Leaf Etchings to Model Leaf Structure High School Activity
Published on June 26, 2021
In this design analysis activity, students create their own personal model of a leaf by etching a leaf onto a blank piece of paper. Using this model, they can explain and demonstrate the dynamic interaction must occur between systems to ensure the carbon dioxide gas. water and visible light are delivered to every chloroplast within every cell for photosynthesis, as well as the systems needed to remove the oxygen gas and glucose.
Wind Makes the Wheels Go ‘Round Elementary School Activity
Published on June 12, 2021
Explore the phenomenon of the natural power of wind with students as they make sense of how engineers use alternative and renewable resources in the design of a prototype for a wind powered car. Using the engineering design process, students identify the problem, brainstorm solutions, plan a design, create and test a prototype, and make improvements to their wind powered cars.
Designing a Slide to Help Jack Escape! Elementary School Activity
Published on May 27, 2021
In this activity, students design and create a slide that will get Jack away from the giant as fast as possible. Using the engineering design process, students identify the problem, brainstorm solutions, plan a design, create and test a prototype, and make improvements to help Jack escape the giant!
Improving Your School’s COVID-19 Procedures Using the Engineering Design Process Middle School Activity
Published on May 26, 2021
This activity is meant to introduce students to the concept of industrial and safety engineering, using real-world COVID-19 prevention procedures (from their own school or researched online). Students consider cases where schools were forced to close due to outbreaks, then collect data and evaluate real-world procedures designed to prevent outbreaks. Their evaluation will lead students to determine how common processes are falling short and use that information to provide recommendations to their own school.
Modeling Nuclear Damage from Cell Movement High School Activity
Published on May 26, 2021
This engineering design activity simulates building a model to visualize and measure DNA damage within the nucleus as the cell migrates through the extracellular matrix (ECM). As students learn more about the structural composition of the ECM and the nucleus, they come to understand that both the ECM and the nucleus vary in stiffness and elasticity. Mechanobiologists have recently discovered that this feature plays an influential role in regulating numerous cell functions, as cells have the ability to “sense” their mechanical environment. The stiffness of the ECM is particularly important in the spread of cancer throughout the body. In this activity, students model the movement of a cell through a stiff matrix and measure the impact on the nucleus as DNA damage caused by the stress of this movement in relation to the amount of nuclear lamins, the major architectural proteins of the animal cell nucleus, present.
Engineering a Minion Rescue Elementary School Activity
Published on May 1, 2021
The minions are stuck on a deserted island! Students research, design, create and test boats that can rescue the minions. They learn about the physical properties of matter as well as the construction of boats and buoyancy while they engineer a minion rescue.
Shielding from Cosmic Radiation: Part 3 - Post-Launch Analysis High School Activity
Published on April 30, 2021
In this wrap-up activity, students analyze their findings from their launch! (Alternatively, they can independently analyze data sets without launching a balloon.) Students examine the radiation data collected from a balloon launched into near space to see if cosmic radiation shielding designs worked. Students explain their findings, which might require some research to show if this observation is correct and why. Finally, students make a comparison of the shielded and unshielded, control Geiger counters and analyze the results.