Students construct rockets from balloons propelled along a guide string. They use this model to learn about Newton's three laws of motion, examining the effect of different forces on the motion of the rocket.
Students make a skydiver and parachute contraption to demonstrate how drag caused by air resistance slows the descent of skydivers as they travel back to Earth. Gravity pulls the skydiver toward the Earth, while the air trapped by the parachute provides an upward resisting force (drag) on the skydiver.
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 observe the relationship between the angle of a catapult (a force measurement) and the flight of a cotton ball. They learn how Newton's second law of motion works by seeing directly that F = ma. When they pull the metal "arm" back further, thus applying a greater force to the cotton ball, it causes the cotton ball to travel faster and farther. Students also learn that objects of greater mass require more force to result in the same distance traveled by a lighter object.
Engineers design methods of removing particulate matter from industrial sources to minimize negative effects of air pollution. In this activity, students will undertake a similar engineering challenge as they design and build a filter to remove pepper from an air stream without blocking more than 50% of the air.
Students learn about the physical force of linear momentum movement in a straight line by investigating collisions. They learn an equation that engineers use to describe momentum. Students also investigate the psychological phenomenon of momentum; they see how the "big mo" of the bandwagon effect contributes to the development of fads and manias, and how modern technology and mass media accelerate and intensify the effect.
In this activity, students will use a tutorial on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website to learn about how surface water is treated to make it safe to drink.
Student teams locate a contaminant spill in a hypothetical site by measuring the pH of soil samples. Then they predict the direction of groundwater flow using mathematical modeling. They also use the engineering design process to come up with alternative treatments for the contaminated water.
Students learn about weight by building a spring scale and observing how it responds to objects with different masses.
Students learn about weight and drag forces by making paper helicopters and measuring how adding more weight affects the time it takes for the helicopters to fall to the ground.
Students gain first-hand experience on how friction affects motion. They build a hovercraft using air from a balloon to levitate a craft made from a compact disc (CD), learning that a bed of air under an object significantly reduces the friction as it slides over a surface.
Students learn more about forces by examining the force of gravitational attraction. They observe how objects fall and measure the force of gravitational attraction upon objects.
Students capture and examine air particles to gain an appreciation of how much dust, pollen and other particulate matter is present in the air around them. Students place "pollution detectors" at various locations to determine which places have a lot of particles in the air and which places do not have as many. Quantifying and describing these particles is a first step towards engineering methods of removing contaminants from the air.
Using spaghetti and marshmallows, students experiment with different structures to determine which ones are able to handle the greatest amount of load. Their experiments help them to further understand the effects that compression and tension forces have with respect to the strength of structures. Spaghetti cannot hold much tension or compression; therefore, it breaks very easily. Marshmallows handle compression well, but do not hold up to tension.
Students explore the concepts of center of mass and static equilibrium by seeing how non-symmetrical objects balance. Using a paper cut-out shape of a parrot sitting on a wire coat hanger, they learn that their parrot exists in stable equilibrium â it returns to its balancing point after being disturbed. The weight of its tail makes the parrot balance upright. Give the parrot a push, and she knocks off balance, but swings back and forth until coming to rest in balance again.
Building upon their understanding of forces and Newton's laws of motion, students learn about the force of friction, specifically with respect to cars. They explore the friction between tires and the road to learn how it affects the movement of cars while driving. In an associated literacy activity, students explore the theme of conflict in literature, and the difference between internal and external conflict, and various types of conflicts. Stories are used to discuss methods of managing and resolving conflict and interpersonal friction.
Students learn the concept of angular momentum and its correlation to mass, velocity and radius. They experiment with rotation and an object's mass distribution. In an associated literacy activity, students use basic methods of comparative mythology to consider why spinning and weaving are common motifs in creation myths and folktales.
The concepts of stability and equilibrium are introduced while students learn how these ideas are related to the concept of center of mass. They gain further understanding when they see, first-hand, how equilibrium is closely related to an object's center of mass. In an associated literacy activity, students learn about motion capture technology, the importance of center of gravity in animation and how use the concept of center of gravity in writing an action scene.
Students examine collisions between two skateboards with different masses to learn about conservation of momentum in collisions.
In this activity, students build a water filter with activated carbon, cotton and other materials to remove chocolate powder from water.
Students are introduced to the concepts of stress and strain with examples that illustrate the characteristics and importance of these forces in our everyday lives. They explore the factors that affect stress, why engineers need to know about it, and the ways engineers describe the strength of materials. In an associated literacy activity, while learning about the stages of group formation, group dynamics and team member roles, students discover how collective action can alleviate personal feelings of stress and tension.
To introduce the two types of stress that materials undergo compression and tension students examine compressive and tensile forces and learn about bridges and skyscrapers. They construct their own building structure using marshmallows and spaghetti to see which structure can hold the most weight. In an associated literacy activity, students explore the psychological concepts of stress and stress management, and complete a writing activity.
Use this hands-on activity to demonstrate rotational inertia, rotational speed, angular momentum, and velocity. Students build at least two simple spinners to conduct experiments with different mass distributions and shapes, as they strive to design and build the spinner that spins the longest.
Students examine the motion of pendulums and come to understand that the longer the string of the pendulum, the fewer the number of swings in a given time interval. They see that changing the weight on the pendulum does not have an effect on the period. They also observe that changing the angle of release of the pendulum has negligible effect upon the period.
Students explore how pendulums work and why they are useful in everyday applications. In a hands-on activity, they experiment with string length, pendulum weight and angle of release. In an associated literacy activity, students explore the mechanical concept of rhythm, based on the principle of oscillation, in a broader biological and cultural context in dance and sports, poetry and other literary forms, and communication in general.
To learn about the concept of center of mass, students examine how objects balance. They make symmetrical cut-outs of different "creatures" and experiment with how they balance on a tightrope of string. Students see the concept of center of mass at work as the creatures balance.
Students begin to explore the idea of a force. To further their understanding of drag, gravity and weight, they conduct activities that model the behavior of parachutes and helicopters. An associated literacy activity engages the class to recreate the Wright brothers' first flight in the style of the "You Are There" television series.
Contamination in drinking water sources or watersheds can negatively affect the organisms that come in contact with it. The affects can be severe causing illness or, in some cases, even death. It is important for people to understand how they can contribute to the contaminants in drinking water and what treatment can be done to counter these harmful effects. Students will learn about the various methods developed by environmental engineers for treating drinking water in the United States.