In this activity, students explore the effect of chemical erosion on statues and monuments. They use chalk to see what happens when limestone is placed in liquids with different pH values. They also learn several things that engineers are doing to reduce the effects of acid rain.
In this activity, students are introduced to static equilibrium by learning how forces and torques are balanced in a well-designed engineering structure. A tower crane is presented as a simplified two-dimensional case. Using Popsicle sticks and hot glue, student teams design, build and test a simple tower crane model according to these principles, ending with a team competition.
Students are introduced to measuring and identifying sources of air pollution, as well as how environmental engineers try to control and limit the amount of air pollution. In Part 1, students are introduced to nitrogen dioxide as an air pollutant and how it is quantified. Major sources are identified, using EPA bar graphs. Students identify major cities and determine their latitudes and longitudes. They estimate NO2 values from color maps showing monthly NO2 averages from two sources: a NASA satellite and the WSU forecast model AIRPACT. In Part 2, students continue to estimate NO2 values from color maps and use Excel to calculate differences and ratios to determine the model's performance. They gain experience working with very large numbers written in scientific notation, as well as spreadsheet application capabilities.
Commercial fishing nets often trap "unprofitable" animals in the process of catching target species. In this activity, students experience the difficulty that fishermen experience while trying to isolate a target species when a variety of sea animals are found in the area of interest. Then the class discusses the large magnitude of this problem. Students practice data acquisition and analysis skills by collecting data and processing it to deduce trends on target species distribution. They conclude by discussing how bycatch impacts their lives and whether or not it is an important environmental issue that needs attention. As an extension, students use their creativity and innovative skills to design nets or other methods, theoretically and/or through hands-on prototyping, that fisherman could use to help avoid bycatch.
Students learn that fats found in the foods we eat are not all the same; they discover that physical properties of materials are related to their chemical structures. Provided with several samples of commonly used fats with different chemical properties (olive oil, vegetable oil, shortening, animal fat and butter), student groups build and use simple LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT robots with temperature and light sensors to determine the melting points of the fat samples. Because of their different chemical structures, these fats exhibit different physical properties, such as melting point and color. This activity uses the fact that fats are opaque when solid and translucent when liquid to determine the melting point of each sample upon being heated. Students heat the samples, and use the robot to determine when samples are melted. They analyze plots of their collected data to compare melting points of the oil samples to look for trends. Discrepancies are correlated to differences in the chemical structure and composition of the fats.
In this activity, students learn about this silicon-based solid with a sponge-like structure, and also learn about density, and how aerogel is 99.8% air by volume, making it the lightest solid known to humans! Further, students learn about basic heat transfer and how aerogel is a great thermal insulator, having 39 times more insulation than the best fiberglass insulation, and about the wide array of aerogel applications.
In this activity, students construct their own rocket-powered boat called an "aqua-thruster." These aqua-thrusters will be made from a film canister and will use carbon dioxide gas produced from a chemical reaction between an antacid tablet and water to propel it. Students observe the effect that surface area of this simulated solid rocket fuel has on thrust.
Students create four-legged walking robots and measure how far they travel across different types of surfaces. They design and create "shoes" to add to the robots' feet and observe the effect of their modifications on the net distance traveled across the various surface types. This activity illustrates how the specialized locomotive features of different species help them to survive or thrive in their habitat environments. The activity is best as an enrichment tool that follows a lesson that introduces the concept of biological adaptation to students.
The year is 2032 and your class has successfully achieved a manned mission to Mars! After several explorations of the Red Planet, one question is still being debated: "Is there life on Mars?" The class is challenged with the task of establishing criteria to help look for signs of life. Student explorers conduct a scientific experiment in which they evaluate three "Martian" soil samples and determine if any contain life.
This lesson teaches the engineering method for testing wherein one variable is changed while the others are held constant. Students compare the performance of a single paper airplane design while changing the shape, size and position of flaps on the airplane. Students also learn about control surfaces on the tail and wings of an airplane.
As an introduction to bioengineering, student teams are given the engineering challenge to design and build prototype artificial limbs using a simple syringe system and limited resources. As part of a NASA lunar mission scenario, they determine which substance, water (liquid) or air (gas), makes the appendages more efficient.
In this simulation of a doctor's office, students play the roles of physician, nurse, patients, and time-keeper, with the objective to improve the patient waiting time. They collect and graph data as part of their analysis. This serves as a hands-on example of using engineering principles and engineering design approaches (such as models and simulations) to research, analyze, test and improve processes.
The purpose of this activity is to bring together the students' knowledge of engineering and airplanes and the creation of a glider model to determine how each modification affects the flight. The students will use a design procedure whereby one variable is changed and all the others are kept constant.
Students groups use balsa wood and glue to build their own towers using some of the techniques they learned from the associated lesson. While general guidelines are provided, give students freedom with their designs and encourage them to implement what they have learned about structural engineering. The winning team design is the tower with the highest strength-to-weight ratio.
Using gumdrops and toothpicks, students conduct a large-group, interactive ozone depletion model. Students explore the dynamic and competing upper atmospheric roles of the protective ozone layer, the sun's UV radiation and harmful human-made CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons).
In this activity, students learn about their heart rate and different ways it can be measured. Students construct a simple measurement device using clay and a toothpick, and then use this device to measure their heart rate under different circumstances (i.e., sitting, standing and jumping). Students make predictions and record data on a worksheet.
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 use the scientific method to determine the effect of control surfaces on a paper glider. They construct paper airplanes (model gliders) and test their performance to determine the base characteristics of the planes. Then they change one of the control surfaces and compare the results to their base glider in order to determine the cause and effect relationship of the control surfaces.
Students explore the biosphere's environments and ecosystems, learning along the way about the plants, animals, resources and natural cycles of our planet. Over the course of lessons 2-6, students use their growing understanding of various environments and the engineering design process to design and create their own model biodome ecosystems - exploring energy and nutrient flows, basic needs of plants and animals, and decomposers. Students learn about food chains and food webs. They are introduced to the roles of the water, carbon and nitrogen cycles. They test the effects of photosynthesis and transpiration. Students are introduced to animal classifications and interactions, including carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, predator and prey. They learn about biomimicry and how engineers often imitate nature in the design of new products. As everyday applications are interwoven into the lessons, students consider why a solid understanding of one's environment and the interdependence within ecosystems can inform the choices we make and the way we engineer our communities.
In this lesson, students examine the structure and function of the human eye, learning some amazing features about our eyes, which provide us with sight and an understanding of our surroundings. Students also learn about some common eye problems and the biomedical devices and medical procedures that resolve or help to lessen the effects of these vision deficiencies, including vision correction surgery.