Using Jupyter Notebooks to Explore Waves High 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.
Shielding from Cosmic Radiation: Part 2 - High-Altitude Balloon Launch Test High School Activity
Published on April 30, 2021
This activity has students embarking on an ambitious design project: to measure the effect of shielding from cosmic radiation via a high-altitude balloon launch test. Students prepare their payloads for launch, making sure batteries are charged, payloads are complete, flight predictions have been made and approved, etc. On launch day, students launch a latex, high-altitude balloon that carries each space agency’s payload to near space. GPS tracking units follow the balloon flight path in real-time, so the location and altitude of the balloon during flight, when it bursts, and once the payload is on the ground. After landing, participants travel to the landing site and retrieve and examine the payloads.
Shielding from Cosmic Radiation: Part 1 - Building the Payload High School Activity
Published on April 30, 2021
This activity has students embarking on an ambitious design project: to build a payload that measures the effect of shielding from cosmic radiation via a high-altitude balloon launch test. Each payload includes a Geiger counter, data collection device (Arduino and microSD memory card), and uses materials that will shield their Geiger counter from cosmic radiation. (Each payload also has a second, unshielded Geiger counter to act as a control.) By the end of the activity, each group has a completed payload ready to launch into near space and collect data.
Shielding from Cosmic Radiation: Space Agency Scenario High School Lesson
Published on April 29, 2021
There is increasing interest in human space exploration beyond the Moon’s orbit, such as venturing to Mars. However, the effects of radiation are still a major concern for such travel. Astronauts need shielding from radiation. One testing method is to send materials into near space and measure radiation levels using Geiger counters. Teams of engineers on such projects need to be aware of design constraints, such as budgets, material limitations, and public support. Through role playing and problem solving, the first lesson sets the stage for a friendly competition between groups to design and build a shielding device to protect humans traveling in space. The instructor asks students—how might we design radiation shielding for space travel? Finally, the instructor presents the space agency scenario to students and hands out Arduinos while explaining the scenario, the roles, and the objectives. Students divide into groups and begin the process of forming their agency. Students get to know their partners and counterparts. Both agencies design logos and examine their missions. The computer scientists from each agency learn about Arduinos and basic computer coding.
Lunar Olympics Middle School Activity
Published on April 27, 2021
On your mark… get set… design! Students discover how sports arenas, rules, and equipment would change if the Olympic Games were conducted on the Moon. During the process, they learn about the engineering design process and physics concepts such as gravity, velocity, acceleration, and friction. They use free online design and programming tools which help them to improve their conceptions and design skills. This activity was developed to be implemented fully online; however, it could easily be adapted for in-class or hybrid classroom use.
Get the Skinny on LEAN Manufacturing! High School Activity
Published on March 30, 2021
Learn the basics of LEAN manufacturing! In this activity, students participate in a simple manufacturing process to identify and eliminate waste via collaboration and analyzing data to optimize the process. Students learn how to do small scale, rapid testing of change ideas and measurement to improve a process. The purpose of this activity is relatively simple: assemble a sticker face (in the style of Potato Head) as quickly as possible with all the right pieces in place and in the right position.
Energy Innovator: Be Your Own Generator High School Activity
Published on March 26, 2021
Exploring the phenomena of electromagnetism and current generation are great ways to help students gain an understanding of how these concepts are used in engineering design. This activity allows students to make sense of, design, and create their own magnetic field generator without the use of batteries. As they create their own generator, students learn how electricity can been created using circuits and magnetism—hence, discovering the phenomenon of electromagnetism! While thinking critically about how magnetic fields work, students develop a design for a generator using magnets, copper wire, discs, and LED indicator lights.
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.”