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.
Stop Freewheeling Using Friction! Elementary School Maker Challenge
Published on December 12, 2019
In this maker challenge, students use the engineering design process to design a covering for a portable wheelchair ramp for their school. The design must be easy to use, and allows people to move up the ramp easily and go down slowly. Students have a $20 budget to use for materials. Students conduct research on different materials to use that reduce or increase friction, evaluate proposed solutions that best meets the above requirements, build and test prototypes, revise and improve their designs, and report their findings to the rest of the class.
Silkworm Strength! Elementary School Maker Challenge
Published on December 12, 2019
In this maker challenge, students use the engineering design process to design a bridge out of silkworm cocoons that can hold at least 50 grams. Students can use other materials to supplement the silk bridge, but have a $10 budget. Students evaluate proposed solutions that best meets the above requirements, build and test prototypes, revise and improve their designs, and report their findings to the rest of the class.
Keeping Damp in a Drought Elementary School Maker Challenge
Published on December 11, 2019
In this maker challenge, students design a way for mint plants to keep a constant moisture level for 72 hours. The mint plants must be kept moist since they are young and just starting to establish growth. Before students receive the mint plants, they must prove that they can keep the moisture level constant. Students employ the engineering design process and conduct research on different materials used to hold in moisture, evaluate proposed solutions, build and test prototypes, revise and improve their designs, and report their findings to the rest of the class.
Measure the Milky Way with Stars High School Maker Challenge
Published on December 3, 2019
For this maker challenge, students investigate Python and Jupyter Notebook to analyze real astronomical images in order to calculate the interstellar distance to a star cluster across the Milky Way from our own Solar System. They learn how to write Python code that runs in a Jupyter Notebook so they can determine the brightness of stars in an astronomical image. Next, students complete the functions in the project to determine how far away a single star in the cluster is from Earth. This is a chance to try hands-on astronomical research techniques in the field of aperture photometry. The real astronomical image data will be directly manipulated and analyzed by code the students create. Groups compare their final images and results to answer questions about the astronomy of stars and stellar distances within the Milky Way. Students experience their discoveries the same way Harvard scientist Harlow Shapley first learned the true size and shape of the Milky Way.
Augmented Reality Programming Challenge High School Maker Challenge
Published on December 3, 2019
For this maker challenge, students explore augmented reality (AR) physiology programs, including muscle and bone overlays and body tracking recording program, using Unity and Microsoft Visual Studio and develop ways to modify, enhance, and redesign the program to meet a particular real-world need.
Design Your Own Pedometer! Middle School Maker Challenge
Published on December 2, 2019
Allow students to put on their biomedical engineer hats to help solve a real-world problem: obesity within the middle school community. Students use the engineering design process to design, create, and test a pedometer that keeps track of the number of steps a person takes. Students also explore the relationship between wearable technologies and overarching health conditions, specifically obesity, through various health-related research papers, online research and short documentaries. Students use a micro:bit processer and Microsoft Make Code to build their prototype. This maker challenge exposes students to basic coding, micro:bit processor applications and how programming and engineering can be used to solve health problems. Finally, students test the accuracy of their pedometer by conducting some simple self-experimentation to compare their step count in a day.
Bacterial Adaptations and Their Application in Genetic Engineering Middle School Activity
Published on November 23, 2019
Students explore adaptations by researching how animals, plants, and bacteria change based on their environment. They grow bacterial colonies in various environments and hypothesize how each environment will affect the cell culture size and color. After a day of pre-growth, the culture is spun down in a centrifuge and the cell pellet is analyzed. Finally, students research bacteria adaptations that allow them to survive in extreme environments then brainstorm how the beneficial genes can be useful for genetic engineering of GMOs in the future.
Engineering an Animal’s Survival Elementary School Activity
Published on November 14, 2019
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.
Graphing the Speed of Slime High School Activity
Published on November 13, 2019
Students conduct a research-based activity to explore, graph, and evaluate the speed of slime, or how far and at what rate slime stretches. During the activity, the students review the major concepts of graphing speed by stretching gum or silly putty. After reviewing how to create and read speed on a graph, students create a “super-stretchy” slime sample. Students conduct tensile tests to determine the fastest speed the slime can stretch without snapping. Students analyze the slime stretching data by compiling it in a speed graph using Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. Lastly, students communicate their findings through a poster presentation.
Soil from Spoiled: Engineering a Compost Habitat for Worms Elementary School Activity
Published on October 26, 2019
A unique activity for young learners that combines engineering and biology, students design an optimal environment for red wiggler worms in a compost bin. Students learn about living and non-living things, the habitat of red wigglers, how red wigglers help convert organic waste into soil, as well as composting in nature and as a sustainable practice.