Students explore the interface between architecture and engineering. In the associated hands-on activity, students act as both architects and engineers by designing and building a small parking garage.
Athletes often wear protective gear to keep themselves safe in contact sports. In this spirit, students follow the steps of engineering design process as they design, build and test protective padding for an egg drop. Many of the design considerations surrounding egg drops are similar to sports equipment design. Watching the transformation of energy from potential to kinetic, observing the impact and working under material constraints introduces students to "sports engineering" and gives them a chance to experience some of the challenges engineers face in designing equipment to protect athletes.
In some cities, especially large cities such as Los Angeles or Mexico City, visible air pollution is a major problem, both for human health and the environment. A variety of sources contribute to air pollution, but personal vehicles account for one of the main sources. Though each car has relatively low emissions when compared to vehicles of the 1970s, there are so many more cars on the road now that their emissions play a large role in overall pollution. In this activity, students think about alternate ways to power a vehicle to reduce emissions. Student teams design an eco-friendly car using the engineering design process, and make a presentation to showcase their product.
This lesson introduces the concepts of wavelength and amplitude in transverse waves. In the associated activity, students will use ropes and their bodies to investigate different wavelengths and amplitudes.
Students are introduced to chemical engineering and learn about its many different applications. They are provided with a basic introduction to matter and its different properties and states. An associated hands-on activity gives students a chance to test their knowledge of the states of matter and how to make observations using their five senses: touch, smell, sound, sight and taste.
Students learn how the total solar irradiance hitting a photovoltaic (PV) panel can be increased through the use of a concentrating device, such as a reflector or lens. This is the final lesson in the Photovoltaic Efficiency unit and is intended to accompany a fun design project (see the associated Concentrating on the Sun with PVs activity) to wrap up the unit. However, it can be completed independently of the other unit lessons and activities.
Students design, build and test reflectors to measure the effect of solar reflectance on the efficiency of solar PV panels. They use a small PV panel, a multimeter, cardboard and foil to build and test their reflectors in preparation for a class competition. Then they graph and discuss their results with the class. Complete this activity as part of the Photovoltaic Efficiency unit and in conjunction with the Concentrated Solar Power lesson.
In this activity, students use a variety of materials to design and create headphones that absorb sound.
In this activity, students construct their own pinhole camera to observe the behavior of light.
Student teams investigate the properties of electromagnets. They create their own small electromagnet and experiment with ways to change its strength to pick up more paper clips. Students learn about ways that engineers use electromagnets in everyday applications.
The digestive system is amazing: it takes the foods we eat and breaks them into smaller components that our body can use for energy, cell repair and growth. This lesson introduces students to the main parts of the digestive system and how they interact. In addition, students learn about some of the challenges astronauts face when trying to eat in outer space.
In this activity, students will experience echolocation themselves. They actually try echolocation by wearing blindfolds while another student makes snapping noises in front of, behind, or to the side of them.
In this activity, students are divided into a group of hormones and a group of receptors. The hormones have to find their matching receptors, and the pair, once matched, perform a given action. This activity helps students learn about the specificity of hormone-receptor interactions within the endocrine system.
Imagining themselves arriving at the Olympic gold medal soccer game in Beijing, students begin to think about how engineering is involved in sports. After a discussion of kinetic and potential energy, an associated hands-on activity gives students an opportunity to explore energy absorbing materials as they try to protect an egg from being crushed.
Students learn about the wonderful and fascinating country of China, and its environmental challenges that require engineering solutions, many in the form of increased energy efficiency, the incorporation of renewable energy, and new engineering developments for urban and rural areas. China is fast becoming an extremely influential factor in our world today, and will likely have a large role in shaping the decades ahead. China is the world's largest energy consumer and the largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions, leading engineers and scientists to be concerned about the role these emissions play in rural and urban public and environmental health, as well as in global climate change. Through exploring some sources of air pollution, appropriate housing for different climate zones, and the types of renewable energy, the lessons and activities of this unit present ways that engineers are helping people in China, using an approach to cleaner, smarter, healthier and more-efficient ways of living that apply to people wherever they live.
Students learn about fossils what they are, how they are formed, and why scientists and engineers care about them.
Students use wood, wax paper and oil to investigate the importance of lubrication between materials and to understand the concept of friction. Using wax paper and oil placed between pieces of wood, the function of lubricants between materials is illustrated. Students extend their understanding of friction to bones and joints in the skeletal system and become aware of what engineers can do to help reduce friction in the human body as well as in machines.
Students review information learned during the past five lessons and activities of the Introduction to Engineering unit. Working in teams, they create flyers and short quizzes about various types of engineering to share with the class and collect into a "Olympic Engineering Binder" for the class to keep.
To understand how fossils are formed, students model the process of fossilization by making fossils using small toy figures and melted chocolate. They extend their knowledge to the many ways that engineers aid in the study of fossils, including the development of tools and technologies for determining the physical and chemical properties of fossilized organisms, and how those properties tell a story of our changing world.
Students investigate motors and electromagnets as they construct their own simple electric motors using batteries, magnets, paper clips and wire.
Students learn about some of the different climate zones in China and consider what would be appropriate design, construction and materials for houses in those areas. This prepares them to conduct the associated activity(ies) in which they design, build and test small model homes for three different climate zones.
Students review the what they have learned throughout the five lessons in this unit. This includes a review of many types of engineers, reminding students of the various everyday products, structures and processes they design and create in our world.
Through an overview of some of the environmental challenges facing the growing and evolving country of China today, students learn about the effects of indoor and outdoor air pollution that China is struggling to curb with the help of engineers and scientists. This includes the sources of particulate matter 2.5 and carbon dioxide, and air pollution impacts on the health of people and the environment.
This lesson helps students explore the functions of the kidney and its place in the urinary system. Students learn how engineers design instruments to help people when kidneys are not functioning properly or when environmental conditions change, such as kidney function in space.
In this activity, students filter different substances through a plastic window screen, different sized hardware cloth and poultry netting. Their model shows how the thickness of a filter in the kidney is imperative in deciding what will be filtered out and what will stay within the blood stream.
Students examine various materials to investigate how they interact with light. They use five characteristicsâtranslucency, transparency, opaqueness, reflectivity and refractivityâto describe how light interacts with the objects.
Students learn about the unique challenges astronauts face while eating in outer space. They explore different food choices and food packaging. Students learn about the engineering design process, and then, as NASA engineering teams, they design and build original model devices to help astronauts eat in a microgravity environment --- their own creative devices for food storage and meal preparation.
Students complete a series of six short investigations involving magnets to learn more about their properties. Students also discuss engineering uses for magnets and brainstorm examples of magnets in use in their everyday lives.
Students learn about magnets and how they are formed. They investigate the properties of magnets and how engineers use magnets in technology. Specifically, students learn about magnetic memory storage, which is the reading and writing of data information using magnets, such as in computer hard drives, zip disks and flash drives.
In this activity, students use their own creativity (and their bodies) to make longitudinal and transverse waves. Through the use of common items, they will investigate the different between longitudinal and transverse waves.
Students learn the components of the rock cycle and how rocks can change over time under the influence of weathering, erosion, pressure and heat. They learn about geotechnical engineering and the role these engineers play in the development of an area of land, the design and placement of new structures, and detection of natural disasters.
In this lesson, students learn about sound. Girls and boys are introduced to the concept of frequency and how it applies to musical sounds.
This lesson covers the topic of muscles. Students learn about the three different types of muscles in the human body and the effects of microgravity on muscles. Students also learn how astronauts need to exercise in order to lessen muscle atrophy in space. Students discover what types of equipment engineers design to help the astronauts exercise while in space.
This activity helps students learn about the three different types of muscles and how outer space affects astronauts' muscles. They will discover how important it is for astronauts to get adequate exercise both on Earth and in outer space. Also, through the design of their own microgravity exercise machine, students learn about the exercise machines that engineers design specifically for astronaut use.
This is the first lesson of this unit to introduce light. Lessons 1-5 focus on sound, while 6-9 focus on light. In this lesson, students learn the five words that describe how light interacts with objects: "transparent," "translucent," "opaque," "reflection" and "refraction."
The lesson begins by introducing Olympics as the unit theme. The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the techniques of engineering problem solving. Specific techniques covered in the lesson include brainstorming and the engineering design process. The importance of thinking out of the box is also stressed to show that while some tasks seem impossible, they can be done. This introduction includes a discussion of the engineering required to build grand, often complex, Olympic event centers.
Students work in engineering teams to optimize cleaner energy solutions for cooking and heating in rural China. They choose between various options for heating, cooking, hot water, and lights and other electricity, balancing between the cost and health effects of different energy choices.
This lesson covers the topic of human bones and joints. Students learn about the skeleton, the number of and types of bones in the body, and how outer space affects astronauts' bones. Students also learn how to take care of their bones here on Earth to prevent osteoporosis or weakening of the bones.
Students are introduced to the fabulous planet on which they live. Even though we spend our entire lives on Earth, we still do not always understand how it fits into the rest of the solar system. Students learn about the Earth's position in the solar system and what makes it unique. They learn how engineers study human interactions with the Earth and design technologies and systems to monitor, use and care for our planet's resources wisely to preserve life on Earth.
The difference between an architect and an engineer is sometimes confusing because their roles in building design can be similar. Students experience a bit of both professions by following a set of requirements and meeting given constraints as they create a model parking garage. They experience the engineering design process first-hand as they design, build and test their models. They draw a blueprint for their design, select the construction materials and budget their expenditures. They also test their structures for strength and find their maximum loads.