The Power of Enzymes! Elementary School Lesson
Published on September 22, 2020
What do enzymes and engineering have in common? As a catalyst that creates a chemical reaction, enzymes are a unique substance that chemical engineers can learn from to create their own unique chemical designs. In this lesson, students learn about enzymes, study how enzymes work in our digestive system, and discuss enzymes are used in laundry detergents. Students relate to the idea that enzymes digest the food in the human body, and that enzymes can also be used to digest food stains on clothing.
Clean, Green Washing Machine Challenge Elementary School Activity
Published on September 22, 2020
In this activity, students learn about the engineering design process and use it to solve a design problem involving detergent and dirty clothes. The problem presented is a spot on a favorite shirt while on a camping trip. Students move through the engineering design process, as they design, build, and test a prototype of a portable washing machine.
The Water Around Us Elementary School Activity
Published on September 22, 2020
In this engineering design activity, students build models of natural sources of water. As they move through the design process, students differentiate between natural sources of water (such as rivers or lakes) and human-made sources of water, such as reservoirs or canals. Students learn how engineers can study natural sources of water to create better water delivery systems that benefit society.
The New and Improved Nanotube: Fighting Breast Cancer High School Maker Challenge
Published on September 15, 2020
This engineering challenge immerses students into the science fields of nanotechnology, biology, chemistry, technology and biomedical studies. Students explore the growing world of carbon nanotubes and their current impact to detect and diagnose breast cancer. Working in groups of four, students design a new and improved carbon nanotube.
Students begin by brainstorming and designing a structure that entails 100 carbon nanotube mini pieces per group. Students then have to select household materials that works best as heat conductors and applies them to their carbon nanotube structure. Once carbon nanotubes structure designs are complete, students test the thermal conductivity of models by using thermal conductivity guns. Models then sit under a heating lamp for three intervals of 10 minutes. When 10 minutes has lapsed for each interval, students gather their models and collect measurements of their structures using thermal guns. From there, students analyze data and think-pair-share on ways they can improve their carbon nanotube model.
Investigating the Properties of Plastic and its Effects on the Environment High School Activity
Published on September 11, 2020
Plastics offer a lot of worth to our world, ranging from medical use to consumer products, but they also adversely affect our environment and ecosystems. Working in teams, students investigate four different plastic properties: density, chemical decomposition, physical decomposition, and the ability to enter the food web. Based on their investigations, students learn how the properties of plastic create pollution that significantly impacts the environment and ecosystems.
Water Cycle Elementary School Unit
Published on August 28, 2020
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.
Earth's Changing Surface Elementary School Unit
Published on August 27, 2020
Earth science is an exciting field that includes exploring the Earth's crust and its landforms, and the geological processes that shape our planet's surface. From an engineering perspective, students learn about these Earth science concepts and explore them through hands-on activities.
Consult for the Conductive Circuit Card Company Middle School Activity
Published on August 14, 2020
Students engage as engineering consultants for a firm called the “Conductive Circuit Card Company” to design and make a prototype greeting card using conductive paints. This company has made its LED light-up cards using copper tape for its circuits, but the company has determined that it takes too long to apply the tape. In line with the industry’s shift to printing circuits, the company has purchased a flexible electronics printing machine. Student reverse-engineer a copper tape card, analyzing how to constructs its circuit elements. They design and create a new circuit element using stencils and conductive paint.
Powering a Device Using Food Middle School Activity
Published on August 11, 2020
While many students understand that fruits and vegetables can give our bodies energy, they may not know that these same fruits and vegetables can power small electrical devices! In this activity, students experiment with various fruits and vegetables to determine the amount of electrical energy each produces. Students use an engineering design process to determine an optimal circuit design configured using a selection of fruits and vegetables. After evaluating the effectiveness of the fruits and vegetables individually, they design an electrical circuit that produce sufficient energy to power a small electronic device.
Keep Your Boat Afloat High School Activity
Published on August 3, 2020
Students engineer a ship that not only holds cargo but also resists corrosion. After activity constraints are introduced, the students discuss success criteria and how they will determine whether their final designs are deemed successful. Once the success criteria are defined, student groups are given a budget to design and engineer a ship that will meet the all of the challenge criteria. Students choose the design and shape of ship, the metal used to make the ship, and the type of coating that will prevent corrosion from occurring. After the initial design and build, students set their ships to sea and then monitor their ship daily, collecting observations about their ship (e.g., floating vs. sinking, corrosion, water intake, etc.). At the end of the testing period, students reflect on their design and engineering choices as well as what they would change if they repeated the activity again.
How Can We Prevent the Corrosion Crisis? High School Lesson
Published on August 3, 2020
This lesson is meant to introduce students to corrosion and engineering techniques that help prevent corrosion. To launch the lesson, students are given a few samples of nails for a mini-activity. Different types of nails are placed in multiple water solutions (salt water vs. tap water) over specified periods of time (2 weeks, 1 week, etc.) so that students can see a variety of outcomes. Without being told about those conditions, students have a discussion in small groups to record their observations, explanations, and questions. Students learn about the negative impact that corrosion can have on human-made structures such as bridges, boats, and cars. They read an article and watch a short video to learn about what corrosion is and why it occurs. During a class discussion with guided notes, students are given examples and share their own experiences of how corrosion affects multiple areas of everyday life. They also discuss how and why industries and individuals take steps to prevent corrosion from occurring.
Aerogel Cookies High School Activity
Published on July 31, 2020
Students learn about the properties and potential tremendous uses of aerogels by using a simple (and tasty) model: chocolate chip cookie dough. Students create a design as a means for removing the chips from the cookie dough while leaving the holes intact. This mimics the process by which polymer engineering create pores in gels producing aerogels.
Biodegradable Husk-Bags Design Challenge High School Maker Challenge
Published on July 16, 2020
This activity allows students to engage in design thinking that focuses on engineering a biodegradable bag for potato chips. In doing so, students move through the engineering design process. Students focus on design qualities such as if the bag retains moisture, how the bag is sealed, package aesthetics, and its shelf life. Students must meet the design criteria by using a rubric to guide their plans. The edges of bag must be sealed, and the entire bag must pass a quality control inspection (the shake, drop, toss, and moisture test). In addition, the bag must be aesthetically pleasing to the customer’s eye.
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.