Students learn about material properties, and that engineers must consider many different materials properties when designing. This activity focuses on strength-to-weight ratios and how sometimes the strongest material is not always the best material.
Students learn about stress and strain by designing and building beams using polymer clay. They compete to find the best beam strength to beam weight ratio, and learn about the trade-offs engineers make when designing a structure.
Students identify different bridge designs and construction materials used in modern day engineering. They work in construction teams to create paper bridges and spaghetti bridges based on existing bridge designs. Students progressively realize the importance of the structural elements in each bridge. They also measure vertical displacements under the center of the spaghetti bridge span when a load is applied. Vertical deflection is measured using a LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT intelligent brick and ultrasonic sensor. As they work, students experience tension and compression forces acting on structural elements of the two bridge prototypes. In conclusion, students discuss the material properties of paper and spaghetti and compare bridge designs with performance outcomes.
This activity explores the function and engineering of dams, how they have many uses, and how they solve many problems in the world. Students work in teams to engineer their own dam structure in a classroom water trough that has the ability to release water in a controlled manner.
Students brainstorm and discuss the different types of materials used to build houses in various climates. They build small models of houses and test them in different climates.
In this activity, students will go outside and collect nonliving earth materials, and then work in collaborative groups to sort the materials into categories of their choosing. They will describe the materials in their journal using drawings and words.
Given an assortment of unknown metals to identify, student pairs consider what unique intrinsic (aka intensive) metal properties (such as density, viscosity, boiling or melting point) could be tested. For the provided activity materials (copper, aluminum, zinc, iron or brass), density is the only property that can be measured so groups experimentally determine the density of the "mystery" metal objects. They devise an experimental procedure to measure mass and volume in order to calculate density. They calculate average density of all the pieces (also via the graphing method if computer tools area available). Then students analyze their own data compared to class data and perform error analysis. Through this inquiry-based activity, students design their own experiments, thus experiencing scientific investigation and experimentation first hand. A provided PowerPoint(TM) file and information sheet helps to introduce the five metals, including information on their history, properties and uses.
After a brief history of plastics, students look more closely as some examples from the abundant types of plastics found in our day-to-day lives. They are introduced to the mechanical properties of plastics, including their stress-strain relationships, which determine their suitability for different industrial and product applications. These physical properties enable plastics to be fabricated into a wide range of products. Students learn about the different roles that plastics play in our lives, Young's modulus, and the effects that plastics have on our environment. Then students act as industrial engineers, conducting tests to compare different plastics and performing a cost-benefit analysis to determine which are the most cost-effective for a given application, based on their costs and measured physical properties.
Students are introduced to the physical concept of the colors of rainbows as light energy in the form of waves with distinct wavelengths, but in a different manner than traditional kaleidoscopes. Looking at different quantum dot solutions, they make observations and measurements, and graph their data. They come to understand how nanoparticles interact with absorbing photons to produce colors. They learn the dependence of particle size and color wavelength and learn about real-world applications for using these colorful liquids.
Students learn about material reuse by designing and building the strongest and tallest towers they can, using only recycled materials. They follow design constraints and build their towers to withstand earthquake and high wind simulations.
This resource is part of Tools4NCTeachers.
The Family Letter is intended to be sent home at the beginning of Cluster 1. It explains big ideas of the cluster using family-friendly language. Families can also find tips for working with their children at home, digital games, videos, and books. This file contains both English and Spanish versions of the Cluster 1 Family Letter.
This resource is part of Tools4NCTeachers.
The Family Letters are intended to be sent home at the beginning and middle of Cluster 3. They explain big ideas of the cluster using family-friendly language. Families can also find tips for working with their children at home, digital games, videos, and books. This file contains both English and Spanish versions of the Cluster 3 Family Letters.