Dyeing to Design High School Activity
Published on October 18, 2018
In this activity, students experiment with various ways to naturally dye materials using sources found in nature – roots, leaves, seeds, spices, etc. as well as the method of extracting dyes. They then analyze various materials using statistical methods and tackle an engineering design challenge: trying to find dyes that would best suit the needs of a sustainable clothing company start-up.
Nanotechnology Scavenger Hunt! High School Activity
Published on October 11, 2018
Through a scavenger hunt, students are introduced to the world of nanotechnology. Under the guise of a competition, students must locate symbols that correlate to an answer to a general nanotechnology question. Each group receives a slip of paper with a question; the remaining questions are hidden behind QR codes. There are eight total questions students need to answer in the correct order. Because this is an introduction to nanotechnology and the engineering associated with that technology, students groups have to use problem-solving skills in order to identify the correct answers. After the initial scavenger hunt, a brief discussion is held in class on advances in nanotechnology. Next, students are broken up into teams to research different areas of nanotechnology in order to create their own scavenger hunt game.
Topographic Maps and Ratios: A Study of Denali Middle School Activity
Published on October 6, 2018
In this activity, students overlay USGS topographic maps into Google Earth’s satellite imagery. By analyzing Denali, a mountain in Alaska, students discover how to use map scales as ratios to navigate a map, and use rates to make sense of contour lines and elevation changes in an integrated GIS software program. Students also problem solve to find potential pathways up a mountain by calculating gradients.
GIS, Mathematics, and Engineering Integration Middle School Lesson
Published on October 6, 2018
This lesson introduces the concept of geocaching as a way for students to explore using a Global Positioning System (GPS) device and basic geographic information (GIS) skills. Students familiarize themselves with GPS, GIS, and geocaching as well as the concepts of latitude and longitude. They develop the skills and concepts needed to complete the associated activity while considering how these technologies relate to engineering. Students discuss images associated with GPS, watch a video on how GPS is used, and review a slide show of GIS basics. They estimate their location using latitude and longitude on a world map and watch a video that introduces the geocaching phenomenon. Finally, students practice using a GPS to get an understanding of the technology and how location and direction features work while sending and receiving data to a GIS such as Google Earth.
Geometry and Geocaching Using GIS & GPS Middle School Activity
Published on October 5, 2018
Students take on the role of geographers and civil engineers and use a device enabled with the Global Positioning System (GPS) to locate geocache locations via a number of waypoints. Students save their data points, upload them to geographic information systems (GIS) software, such as Google Earth, and create scale drawings of their explorations while solving problems of area, perimeter, and rates. The activity is unique in its integration of technology for solving mathematical problems and asks students to relate GPS and GIS to engineering.
Biochar: Measuring and Improving Soil Function High School Activity
Published on September 14, 2018
Students learn how to manipulate the behavior of water by using biochar, a soil amendment used to improve soil functions. As a fluid, water interacts with soil in a variety of ways. It may drain though a soil’s non-solid states, or its “pores”; lay above the soil; or move across cell membranes via osmosis. In this experiment, students solve the specific problem of standing water by researching, designing, and engineering solutions that will allow water to drain faster. This activity is designed for students to explore how biochar allows soils to act as “sponges” in order to retain more water.
The Amazing Buckyball: How to Track Nanomaterials in the Human Body High School Activity
Published on September 7, 2018
Students learn how nanoparticles can be creatively used for medical diagnostic purposes. They learn about buckminsterfullerenes, more commonly known as buckyballs, and about the potential for these complex carbon molecules to deliver drugs and other treatments into the human body. They brainstorm methods to track buckyballs in the body, then build a buckyball from pipe cleaners with a fluorescent tag to model how nanoparticles might be labeled and detected for use in a living organism. As an extension, students research and select appropriate radioisotopes for different medical applications.
Shantytown Construction Redesign High School Activity
Published on September 6, 2018
Students learn about STEM education through an engineering design challenge that focuses on improving building materials used in shantytowns. First, they consider the factors that lead to shantytown development. After researching the implications of living in shantytowns, students design, build and test cement-based concrete block composites made of discarded and/or recycled materials. The aim is to make a material that is resistant to degradation by chemicals or climate, can withstand natural disasters, and endure through human-made conditions (such as urban overcrowding or pollution). The composites must be made of materials that are inexpensive and readily available so that they are viable alternative in shantytown communities. Students assess the results both chemically and physically and then iterate their designs with the materials that proved to be strongest.
Intro to Vectors Physics and Augmented Reality High School Lesson
Published on August 30, 2018
Students learn about video motion capture technology, becoming familiar with concepts such as vector components, magnitudes and directions, position, velocity, and acceleration. They use a (free) classroom data collection and processing tool—the ARK Mirror—to visualize and record 3-D motion. The Augmented Reality Kinematics (ARK) Mirror software collects data via a motion detector. Using an Orbbec Astra Pro 3D camera or Microsoft Kinect (see note below), students can visualize and record a robust set of data and interpret them using statistical and graphical methods. This lesson introduces students to just one possible application of the ARK Mirror software—in the context of a high school physics class. Note: The ARK Mirror is ported to operate on an Orbbec platform. It may also be used with a Microsoft Kinect, although that Microsoft hardware has been discontinued. Refer to the Using ARK Mirror and Microsoft Kinect attachment for how to use the ARK MIrror software with Microsoft Kinect.
Body Motion Vector Visualization High School Activity
Published on August 30, 2018
Students learn how engineers gather data and model motion using vectors. They learn about using motion-tracking tools to observe, record, and analyze vectors associated with the motion of their own bodies. They do this qualitatively and quantitatively by analyzing several examples of their own body motion. As a final presentation, student teams act as engineering consultants and propose the use of (free) ARK Mirror technology to help sports teams evaluate body mechanics. A pre/post quiz is provided.
Counting Atoms: How Not to Break the Law of Conservation of Matter Middle School Activity
Published on August 27, 2018
Students explore the science of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) by using a molecular modeling set to model the processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration—building on the concept of MFCs that they learned in the associated lesson, “Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration at the Atomic Level.” Students demonstrate the law of conservation of matter by counting atoms in the molecular modeling set. They also re-engineer a new molecular model from which to further gain an understanding of these concepts.
Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration at the Atomic Level Middle School Lesson
Published on August 27, 2018
Students learn about the basic principles of electromicrobiology—the study of microorganisms’ electrical properties—and the potential that these microorganisms may have as a next-generation source of sustainable energy. They are introduced to one such promising source: microbial fuel cells (MFCs). Using the metabolisms of microbes to generate electrical current, MFCs can harvest bioelectricity, or energy, from the processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Students learn about the basics of MFCs and how they function as well as the chemical processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration
Nanoparticles at Photocatalytic Speed! High School Activity
Published on August 20, 2018
Student teams learn how water filtration systems that use nanoparticles and nanotechnology can remove organic compounds from water. First they learn about the role nanoparticles play in water filtration. Then they are introduced to the basics of nanoparticles and nanotechnology, focusing on the impacts and benefits this innovative technology has on our daily lives. Using methylene blue and methyl orange solutions, students test for the efficiency of photocatalytic nanoparticles to sanitize water. They expose a solution sample of water and methyl orange (the microbe indicator) with their newly-made water sanitation filters under UV light (sunlight) to activate the photocatalytic properties of three specific nanoparticles. They visually compare them with control samples to determine the best photocatalytic nanoparticle to sanitize water.
Bio-Engineering: Making and Testing Model Proteins High School Activity
Published on June 7, 2018
Students act as if they are biological engineers following the steps of the engineering design process to design and create protein models to replace the defective proteins in a child’s body. Jumping off from a basic understanding of DNA and its transcription and translation processes, students learn about the many different proteins types and what happens if protein mutations occur. Then they focus on structural, transport and defense proteins during three challenges posed by the R&D bio-engineering hypothetical scenario. Using common classroom supplies such as paper, tape and craft sticks, student pairs design, sketch, build, test and improve their own protein models to meet specific functional requirements: to strengthen bones (collagen), to capture oxygen molecules (hemoglobin) and to capture bacteria (antibody). By designing and testing physical models to accomplish certain functional requirements, students come to understand the relationship between protein structure and function. They graph and analyze the class data, then share and compare results across all teams to determine which models were the most successful. Includes a quiz, three worksheets and a reference sheet.
Zooming In and Out with Scale and Systems Thinking Elementary School Activity
Published on June 4, 2018
Student teams act as engineers and learn about systems thinking and scale by reassembling the separated pages of the engaging picture book, “Zoom,” by Istvan Banyai. The book is a series of 31 wordless pictures that start very close-up and then zoom out—from a rooster’s comb to outer space. Like a movie camera, each subsequent page pulls back to reveal the context of the previous scene as something different than what you originally thought. When the 31 un-numbered pages are jumbled, it is a surprising challenge for teams to figure out how the pictures connect. The task prompts students to pause and look closer so as to adjust to new points of view and problem solve to find a logical sequence. It requires them to step back and take a broader view. Students learn that engineers work together as teams and look at things very closely so that they see different things and come up with more than one solution when problem solving. To conclude, students go outside and practice their skills by imagining and then drawing their own Zoom-like small booklet stories inspired by items found in nature. The classic duck/rabbit ambiguous drawing is provided as a kickoff visual aid.