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preview of 'Crystalline Cloth: Modeling Water Treatment Filters' Activity

Crystalline Cloth: Modeling Water Treatment Filters High School Activity

Published on February 27, 2021

Water filtration is a key engineering concept, and in this activity students become environmental engineers as they model membranes and membrane treatments to remove scaling during water filtration. Using cheese cloth to represent a simple membrane, students soak their “membrane” in a supersaturated salt (or sugar) solution and measure how much salt (or sugar) crystallizes on their cloth. They then research and analyze different treatments they can apply to their “membranes” to reduce the scaling (crystal growth). They apply and test their chosen treatments and then hypothesize which treatment method best prevents scaling on their “membrane.”

preview of 'Side-Impact Crash Superhero – Who Will Save the Day with a Better Safety Feature?' Activity

Side-Impact Crash Superhero – Who Will Save the Day with a Better Safety Feature? Middle School Activity

Published on February 27, 2021

In car crashes, serious injuries are more likely to occur in side-impact crashes since passengers can be extremely close to the impact site with no protective region of the car to crumple and absorb the impact. Therefore, it is imperative that we find as many improvements to car design as possible that could help prevent or lessen the impact of side-impact collisions. In this activity, students brainstorm ideas to best reduce side-impact collision, and then build and test their prototypes. Students then have the opportunity to improve their design before final testing. After final testing each team reports on the ideas and successes of their design.

preview of 'Engineering a Handcrafted Cement Shape' Activity

Engineering a Handcrafted Cement Shape High School Activity

Published on February 24, 2021

In this prototyping activity students design a (or a set of) paperweights and look for affordable hardware items to make the molds. They practice the classic approach of preparing hand-drawn sketches and templates to design hand-crafted molds of parts to their object, opposed to using CAD or 3D printing hardware. Simplicity proceeds complexity in the design process. Students learn how molds of shapes are useful because they reproduce duplicate items for models and prototypes. The overall goal is to investigate how to use the engineering design process to design an object with geometric modeling. They learn that volume and surface area are important considerations when designing a mold for an object.

preview of 'Fabrication of a Resin Keychain or Keyring' Activity

Fabrication of a Resin Keychain or Keyring High School Activity

Published on February 24, 2021

Using the engineering design process as a problem-solving tool, students fabricate keychains made out of resin. Since these keychains are prepared from resin, students learn about the history and thermoplastic nature of resins. Students use a silicone mold to temper the thermoplastic resin from its liquid to its solid state in a two-step casting procedure to produce the final product. The final prototype will be portable, compact, lightweight, and able to attach keys that can fit into a pocket or purse. Students also learn about prototypes and how prototypes compare to models. The aim of this activity is for students to design and assemble a functioning, high-fidelity prototype. Creative engineering of new keychains and keyring allows students to explore functions from the structures that they use in daily life.

preview of 'Modeling and Testing Physical Properties of Slime' Activity

Modeling and Testing Physical Properties of Slime Elementary School Activity

Published on January 31, 2021

An exploration of an engineering brief from a mock toy company leads students to explore a new slime with a unique set of characteristics. Using simple directions, students create five different types of slime and classify their slime properties against the criteria provided by the mock toy company. Based on their observations, they identify the best slime recipe based on the resulting physical properties.

preview of 'Engineering Solutions for a Dry Playground' Activity

Engineering Solutions for a Dry Playground Elementary School Activity

Published on January 28, 2021

The school’s playground is flooded again, and the students cannot go out to recess! Students learn about the different states of matter and how water changes. They use this knowledge, along with research about natural disasters, to come up with an engineering solution that prevents playground flooding. They plan and design a model, test it, and share results. After sharing results, they redesign and complete at least two more trials to find the optimal solution.

preview of 'Create a Safe Pathway for Turtles' Activity

Create a Safe Pathway for Turtles Elementary School Activity

Published on January 26, 2021

The students must solve a real-world phenomenon with constraints. Students design and construct a bridge or some form of crossover to provide a pathway for a turtle to safely cross the road. Students pick a specific turtle species native to their state or region. They research their chosen species to identify its niche and habitat, with a special emphasis on the difference between the turtle’s “normal” location and behaviors and its “nesting grounds”. Often, it is the movement between these two locations that can be lethal to the turtles. The goal of the students is to try and lessen the impact of the highway on turtle populations. Civil engineers and environmental engineers must keep ecosystems stable, while allowing infrastructure to be built and all within a reasonable budget.

preview of 'Forces: Friction' Unit

Forces: Friction Middle School Unit

Published on December 8, 2020

This unit builds upon Newton's Laws of Motion by exploring the force of friction. Students learn about friction and drag — two different forces that convert energy of motion to heat. Student-directed activities demonstrate how friction affects motion, and how texture affects the degree of friction as objects move across the surface of different types of materials.

preview of 'Forces: Stress and Strain' Unit

Forces: Stress and Strain Middle School Unit

Published on December 8, 2020

This unit introduces students to the forces of stress and strain. Students design and build model buildings and beams, which furthers their understanding of the effects of compression and tension forces in relation to structure strength. Students explore the psychological concepts of stress and stress management in an associated literacy activity.

preview of 'Forces: Mass and Momentum' Unit

Forces: Mass and Momentum Middle School Unit

Published on December 8, 2020

In this unit, students explore the concepts of mass, center of mass, equilibrium, and stability by exploring how objects balance. Students learn about linear momentum — movement in a straight line —and demonstrate conservation of momentum in collisions between objects of different masses. In associated literacy activities, students apply center of mass and the psychological phenomenon of momentum.

preview of 'Forces: Weight and Gravity' Unit

Forces: Weight and Gravity Middle School Unit

Published on December 8, 2020

This unit focuses on the forces of weight (a measure of gravity that increases by adding mass) and gravity (pulling force). Students explore these fundamental concepts by investigating how air resistance, not the weight of an object, determines how fast an object falls. The effect of drag caused by air resistance and an associated “first flight” literacy activity round out the unit.

preview of 'Motion: Kinetic and Potential Energy' Unit

Motion: Kinetic and Potential Energy Middle School Unit

Published on December 8, 2020

Keep it moving! This unit introduces potential and kinetic energy as forms of mechanical energy in the context of motion. A series of hands-on activities enable students to explore the relationship between potential and kinetic energy and the concept of conservation of energy. The concepts of momentum, collisions, and frictional forces are also viewed through the lens of motion.

preview of 'Motion: Newton's Laws' Unit

Motion: Newton's Laws Middle School Unit

Published on December 8, 2020

Move it! This unit explores Newton’s Laws of Motion. Students have fun exploring the concepts of forces and changes in motion, action and reaction, angular momentum, and pendulums. A variety of hands-on investigations and related activities help learners make sense of motion.

preview of 'Energy Projects' Activity

Energy Projects Middle School Activity

Published on December 2, 2020

Students use what they learned about energy systems to create a project related to identifying and carrying out a personal change to reduce energy consumption. Ideally, the preliminary homework assignments should be interspersed throughout the unit so that the students stay focused on their ultimate culminating projects.

preview of 'Tracking Movements with Metadata' Activity

Tracking Movements with Metadata High School Activity

Published on December 1, 2020

Metadata is an important tool used to organize, calculate, and log information. In this activity, students become detectives as they learn to extract metadata from digital images, analyze the metadata and locate when and where the images were taken. Students gain knowledge on the use of metadata and its application, from engineering to law enforcement. From this activity, students also learn to be proactive in regulating the pictures they take with their smartphones and minimize their image submissions to the web.

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