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  • Mary R. Hebrank
The Benefits of Biodiversity
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Students toss coins to determine what traits a set of mouse parents possess, such as fur color, body size, heat tolerance, and running speed. Then they use coin tossing to determine the traits a mouse pup born to these parents possesses. Then they compare these physical features to features that would be most adaptive in several different environmental conditions. Finally, students consider what would happen to the mouse offspring if those environmental conditions were to change: which mice would be most likely to survive and produce the next generation?

Subject:
Engineering
Genetics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Boxed In and Wrapped Up
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Students find the volume and surface area of a rectangular box (e.g., a cereal box), and then figure out how to convert that box into a new, cubical box having the same volume as the original. As they construct the new, cube-shaped box from the original box material, students discover that the cubical box has less surface area than the original, and thus, a cube is a more efficient way to package things. Students then consider why consumer goods generally aren't packaged in cube-shaped boxes, even though they would require less material to produce and ultimately, less waste to discard. To display their findings, each student designs and constructs a mobile that contains a duplicate of his or her original box, the new cube-shaped box of the same volume, the scraps that are left over from the original box, and pertinent calculations of the volumes and surface areas involved. The activities involved provide valuable experience in problem solving with spatial-visual relationships.

Subject:
Engineering
Geometry
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
The Boxes Go Mobile
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To display the results from the previous activity, each student designs and constructs a mobile that contains a duplicate of his or her original box, the new cube-shaped box of the same volume, the scraps that are left over from the original box, and pertinent calculations of the volumes and surface areas involved. They problem solve and apply their understanding of see-saws and lever systems to create balanced mobiles.

Subject:
Engineering
Geometry
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Bubbling Plants
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Students learn a simple technique for quantifying the amount of photosynthesis that occurs in a given period of time, using a common water plant (Elodea). They can use this technique to compare the amounts of photosynthesis that occur under conditions of low and high light levels. Before they begin the experiment, however, students must come up with a well-worded hypothesis to be tested. After running the experiment, students pool their data to get a large sample size, determine the measures of central tendency of the class data, and then graph and interpret the results.

Subject:
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/26/2008
Buoyant Boats
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Students conduct a simple experiment to see how the water level changes in a beaker when a lump of clay sinks in the water and when the same lump of clay is shaped into a bowl that floats in the water. They notice that the floating clay displaces more water than the sinking clay does, perhaps a surprising result. Then they determine the mass of water that is displaced when the clay floats in the water. A comparison of this mass to the mass of the clay itself reveals that they are approximately the same.

Subject:
Engineering
Physics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Can You Taste It?
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Few people are aware of how crucial the sense of smell is to identifying foods, or the adaptive value of being able to identify a food as being familiar and therefore safe to eat. In this lesson and activity, students conduct an experiment to determine whether or not the sense of smell is important to being able to recognize foods by taste. The teacher leads a discussion that allows students to explore why it might be adaptive for humans and other animals to be able to identify nutritious versus noxious foods. This is followed by a demonstration in which a volunteer tastes and identifies a familiar food, and then attempts to taste and identify a different familiar food while holding his or her nose and closing his or her eyes. Then, the class develops a hypothesis and a means to obtain quantitative results for an experiment to determine whether students can identify foods when the sense of smell has been eliminated.

Subject:
Engineering
Nutrition
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Cellular Respiration and Population Growth
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Two lessons and their associated activities explore cellular respiration and population growth in yeasts. Yeast cells are readily obtained and behave predictably, so they are very appropriate to use in middle school classrooms. In the first lesson, students are introduced to yeast respiration through its role in the production of bread and alcoholic beverages. A discussion of the effects of alcohol on the human body is used both as an attention-getting device, and as a means to convey important information at an impressionable age. In the associated activity, students set up a simple way to indirectly observe and quantify the amount of respiration occurring in yeast-molasses cultures. Based on questions that arise from this activity, in the second lesson students work in small groups as they design and execute their own experiments to determine how environmental factors affect yeast population growth.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
01/31/2007
Clay Boats
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Students use a small quantity of modeling clay to make boats that float in a tub of water. The object is to build boats that hold as much weight as possible without sinking. In the process of designing and testing their prototype creations, students discover some of the basic principles of boat design, gain first-hand experience with concepts such as buoyancy and density, and experience the steps of the engineering design process.

Subject:
Architecture and Design
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Conduction, Convection and Radiation
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With the help of simple, teacher-led demonstration activities, students learn the basic concepts of heat transfer by means of conduction, convection, and radiation. Students then apply these concepts as they work in teams to solve two problems. One problem requires that they maintain the warm temperature of one soda can filled with water at approximately body temperature, and the other problem is to cause an identical soda can of warm water to cool as much as possible during the same thirty-minute time interval. Students design their solutions using only common, everyday materials. They record the water temperatures in their two soda cans every five minutes, and prepare line graphs in order to visually compare their results to the temperature of an unaltered control can of water.

Subject:
Engineering
Physics
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Determining Densities
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Students use two different methods to determine the densities of a variety of materials and objects. The first method involves direct measurement of the volumes of objects that have simple geometric shapes. The second is the water displacement method, used to determine the volumes of irregularly shaped objects. After the densities are determined, students create x-y scatter graphs of mass versus volume, which reveal that objects with densities less than water (floaters) lie above the graph's diagonal (representing the density of water), and those with densities greater than water (sinkers) lie below the diagonal.

Subject:
Education
Physics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Dirty Decomposers
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Students design and conduct experiments to determine what environmental factors favor decomposition by soil microbes. They use chunks of carrots for the materials to be decomposed, and their experiments are carried out in plastic bags filled with dirt. Every few days students remove the carrots from the dirt and weigh them. Depending on the experimental conditions, after a few weeks most of the carrots will have decomposed completely.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Discovering Friction
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With a simple demonstration activity, students are introduced to the concept of friction as a force that impedes motion when two surfaces are in contact. Then, in the Associated Activity (Sliding and Stuttering), they work in teams to use a spring scale to drag an object such as a ceramic coffee cup along a table top or the floor. The spring scale allows them to measure the frictional force that exists between the moving cup and the surface it slides on. By modifying the bottom surface of the cup, students can find out what kinds of surfaces generate more or less friction. They also discover that both static and kinetic friction are involved when an object initially at rest is caused to slide across a surface.

Subject:
Engineering
Physics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Do Plants Eat?
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Through a teacher-led discussion, students realize that the food energy plants obtain comes from sunlight via the plant process of photosynthesis. They learn what photosynthesis is, at an age-appropriate level of detail and vocabulary, and then begin to question how we know that photosynthesis occurs, if we can't see it happening. Elodea is a common water plant that students can use to directly observe evidence of photosynthesis. When Elodea is placed in a glass beaker near a good light source, bubbles of oxygen will be released as products of photosynthesis. By counting the number of bubbles that rise to the surface in a five-minute period, students can compare the photosynthetic activity of Elodea in the presence of high and low light levels.

Subject:
Engineering
Botany
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Does Contact Area Matter?
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Using the same method for measuring friction that was used in the previous lesson (Discovering Friction), students design and conduct experiments to determine if the amount of area over which an object contacts a surface it is moving across affects the amount of friction encountered.

Subject:
Engineering
Physics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Does Weight Matter?
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Using the same method for measuring friction that was used in the previous lesson (Discovering Friction), students design and conduct an experiment to determine if weight added incrementally to an object affects the amount of friction encountered when it slides across a flat surface. After graphing the data from their experiments, students can calculate the coefficients of friction between the object and the surface it moved upon, for both static and kinetic friction.

Subject:
Engineering
Measurement and Data
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/26/2008
Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Sweetness?
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In the first part of the activity, each student chews a piece of gum until it loses its sweetness, and then leaves the gum to dry for several days before weighing it to determine the amount of mass lost. This mass corresponds to the amount of sugar in the gum, and can be compared to the amount stated on the package label. In the second part of the activity, students work in groups to design and conduct new experiments based on questions of their own choosing. These questions arise naturally from observations during the first experiment, and from students' own experiences with and knowledge of the many varieties of chewing and bubble gums available.

Subject:
Engineering
Nutrition
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Factors Affecting Friction
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Based on what they have already learned about friction, students formulate hypotheses concerning the effects of weight and contact area on the amount of friction between two surfaces. In the Associated Activities (Does Weight Matter? and Does Area Matter?), students design and conduct simple experiments to test their hypotheses, using procedures similar to those used in the previous lesson (Discovering Friction). An analysis of their data will reveal the importance of weight to normal friction (the friction that occurs as a result of surface roughness) and the importance of surface area to the friction that occurs between smooth surfaces due to molecular attraction. Based on their data, students will also be able to calculate coefficients of friction for the materials tested, and compare these to published values for various materials.

Subject:
Engineering
Physics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Floaters and Sinkers
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Students are introduced to the important concept of density with a focus is on the more easily understood densities of solids. Students use different methods to determine the densities of solid objects, including water displacement to determine volumes of irregularly-shaped objects. By comparing densities of various solids to the density of water, and by considering the behavior of different solids when placed in water, students conclude that ordinarily, objects with densities greater than water sink, while those with densities less than water float. Then they explore the principle of buoyancy, and through further experimentation arrive at Archimedes' principle that a floating object displaces a mass of water equal to its own mass. Students may be surprised to discover that a floating object displaces more water than a sinking object of the same volume.

Subject:
Engineering
Physics
Material Type:
Full Course
Unit of Study
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Floaters and Sinkers: Lesson
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This lesson introduces students to the important concept of density. The focus is on the more easily understood densities of solids, but students can also explore the densities of liquids and gases. Students devise methods to determine the densities of solid objects, including the method of water displacement to determine volumes of irregularly-shaped objects. By comparing densities of various solids to the density of water, and by considering the behavior of different solids when placed in water, students conclude that ordinarily, objects with densities greater than water will sink, while those with densities less than water will float. Density is an important material property for engineers to understand.

Subject:
Engineering
Physics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
The Force of Friction
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In the first of two lessons of this curricular unit, students are introduced to the concept of friction as a force that impedes motion when two surfaces are in contact. Student teams use spring scales to drag objects, such as a ceramic coffee cup, along a table top or the floor, measuring the frictional force that exists between the moving object and the surface it slides on. By modifying the bottom surface of the object, students find out what kinds of surfaces generate more or less friction. They also discover that both static and kinetic friction are involved when an object initially at rest is caused to slide across a surface. In the second lesson of the unit, students design and conduct experiments to determine the effects of weight and surface area on friction. They discover that weight affects normal friction (the friction that results from surface roughness), but for very smooth surfaces, the friction due to molecular attraction is affected by contact area.

Subject:
Engineering
Physics
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Growing and Graphing
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Students visit second- and fourth-grade classes to measure the heights of older students using large building blocks as a non-standard unit of measure. They also measure adults in the school community. Results are displayed in age-appropriate bar graphs (paper cut-outs of miniature building blocks glued on paper to form bar graphs) enabling a comparison of the heights of different age groups. The activities that comprise this activity help students develop the concepts and vocabulary to describe, in a non-ambiguous way, how heights change as children age. This introduction to graphing provides an important foundation for creating and interpreting graphs in future years.

Subject:
Engineering
Measurement and Data
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Heredity Mix n Match
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Students randomly select jelly beans (or other candy) that represent genes for several human traits such as tongue-rolling ability and eye color. Then, working in pairs (preferably of mixed gender), students randomly choose new pairs of jelly beans from those corresponding to their own genotypes. The new pairs are placed on toothpicks to represent the chromosomes of the couple's offspring. Finally, students compare genotypes and phenotypes of parents and offspring for all the "couples" in the class. In particular, they look to see if there are cases where parents and offspring share the exact same genotype and/or phenotype, and consider how the results would differ if they repeated the simulation using more than four traits.

Subject:
Engineering
Genetics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/26/2008
Hot Cans and Cold Cans
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Students apply the concepts of conduction, convection and radiation as they work in teams to solve two challenges. One problem requires that they maintain the warm temperature of one soda can filled with water at approximately human body temperature, and the other problem is to cause an identical soda can of warm water to cool as much as possible during the same 30-minute time period. Students design their engineering solutions using only common everyday materials, and test their devices by recording the water temperatures in their two soda cans every five minutes.

Subject:
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
How Fast Can a Carrot Rot?
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Students conduct experiments to determine what environmental factors favor decomposition by soil microbes. They use chunks of carrots for the materials to be decomposed, and their experiments are carried out in plastic bags filled with dirt. Every few days students remove the carrots from the dirt and weigh them. Depending on the experimental conditions, after a few weeks most of the carrots have decomposed completely.

Subject:
Engineering
Education
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
How Many Drops?
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In this lesson and its associated activity, students conduct a simple test to determine how many drops of each of three liquids can be placed on a penny before spilling over. The three liquids are water, rubbing alcohol, and vegetable oil; because of their different surface tensions, more water can be piled on top of a penny than either of the other two liquids. However, this is not the main point of the activity. Instead, students are asked to come up with an explanation for their observations about the different amounts of liquids a penny can hold. In other words, they are asked to make hypotheses that explain their observations, and because middle school students are not likely to have prior knowledge of the property of surface tension, their hypotheses are not likely to include this idea. Then they are asked to come up with ways to test their hypotheses, although they do not need to actually test their hypotheses. The important points for students to realize are that 1) the tests they devise must fit their hypotheses, and 2) the hypotheses they come up with must be testable in order to be useful.

Subject:
Engineering
Physics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
How Much Sugar is in Bubble Gum?
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Most of the flavoring in gum is due to the sugar or other sweetener it contains. As gum is chewed, the sugar dissolves and is swallowed. After a piece of gum loses its flavor, it can be left to dry at room temperature and then the difference between its initial (unchewed) mass and its chewed mass can be used to calculate the percentage of sugar in the gum. This demonstration experiment is used to generate new questions about gums and their ingredients, and students can then design and execute new experiments based on their own questions.

Subject:
Engineering
Nutrition
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
How Tall Are We?
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Kindergartners measure each other's height using large building blocks, then visit a 2nd and a 4th grade class to measure those students. They can also measure adults in the school community. Results are displayed in age-appropriate bar graphs (paper cut-outs of miniature building blocks glued on paper to form a bar graph) comparing the different age groups. The activities that comprise this lesson help students develop the concepts and vocabulary to describe, in a non-ambiguous way, how height changes as children get older. The introduction to graphing provides an important foundation for both creating and interpreting graphs in future years.

Subject:
Engineering
Measurement and Data
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
How to Make Yeast Cells Thrive
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Students set up and run the experiments they designed in the Population Growth in Yeasts associated lesson, using simple yeast-molasses cultures in test tubes. Population growth is indicated by the amount of respiration occurring in the cultures, which in turn is indicated by the growth of carbon dioxide bubbles trapped within the culture tubes. Using this method, students test for a variety of environmental influences, such as temperature, food supply and pH.

Subject:
Engineering
Biology
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Light Plants and Dark Plants, Wet Plants and Dry Ones
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Students plant sunflower seeds in plastic cups, and once germinated, expose them to varying light or soil moisture conditions. They measure growth of the seedlings every few days using non-standard measurement (inch cubes). After a few weeks, they compare the growth of plants exposed to the different conditions and make bar comparative graphs, which they analyze to draw conclusions about the needs of plants.

Subject:
Engineering
Botany
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Mice Rule! (Or Not)
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Students explore the relationships between genetics, biodiversity, and evolution through a simple activity involving hypothetical wild mouse populations. First, students toss coins to determine what traits a set of mouse parents possesses, such as fur color, body size, heat tolerance, and running speed. Next they use coin tossing to determine the traits a mouse pup born to these parents possesses. These physical features are then compared to features that would be most adaptive in several different environmental conditions. Finally, students consider what would happen to the mouse offspring if those environmental conditions were to change: which mice would be most likely to survive and produce the next generation?

Subject:
Engineering
Genetics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
New Boxes From Old
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Students find the volume and surface area of a rectangular box (e.g., a cereal box), and then figure out how to convert that box into a new, cubical box having the same volume as the original. As they construct the new, cube-shaped box from the original box material, students discover that the cubical box has less surface area than the original, and thus, a cube is a more efficient way to package things.

Subject:
Engineering
Geometry
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
01/20/2009
Population Growth in Yeasts
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This lesson is the second of two that explore cellular respiration and population growth in yeasts. In the first lesson, students set up a simple way to indirectly observe and quantify the amount of respiration occurring in yeast-molasses cultures. Based on questions that arose during the first lesson and its associated activity, in this lesson students work in small groups to design experiments that will determine how environmental factors affect yeast population growth.

Subject:
Engineering
Biology
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Sliding and Stuttering
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Students use a spring scale to drag an object such as a ceramic coffee cup along a table top or the floor. The spring scale allows them to measure the frictional force that exists between the moving cup and the surface it slides on. By modifying the bottom surface of the cup, students find out what kinds of surfaces generate more or less friction.

Subject:
Engineering
Physics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Students as Scientists
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Through two lessons and their associated activities, students do the work of scientists by designing their own experiments to answer questions they generate. Through a simple activity involving surface tension, students learn what a hypothesis is—and isn't—and why generating a hypothesis is an important aspect of the scientific method. In the second activity, with bubble gum to capture their interest, students learn to design and conduct controlled experiments to answer their own questions about the amounts of sugar (or artificial sweetener) in bubble or chewing gum.

Subject:
Education
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
A Tasty Experiment
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Students conduct an experiment to determine whether or not the sense of smell is important to being able to recognize foods by taste. They do this by attempting to identify several different foods that have similar textures. For some of the attempts, students hold their noses and close their eyes, while for others they only close their eyes. After they have conducted the experiment, they create bar graphs showing the number of correct and incorrect identifications for the two different experimental conditions tested.

Subject:
Engineering
Nutrition
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Tracking a Virus
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Students simulate the spread of a virus such as HIV through a population by "sharing" (but not drinking) the water in a plastic cup with several classmates. Although invisible, the water in a few of the cups has already be tainted with the "virus" (sodium carbonate). After all the students have shared their liquids, the contents of the cups are tested for the virus with phenolphthalein, a chemical that causes a striking color change in the presence of sodium carbonate. Students then set about trying to determine which of their classmates were the ones originally infected with the virus.

Subject:
Education
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Viral Hijackers
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Students learn how viruses invade host cells and hijack the hosts' cell-reproduction mechanisms in order to make new viruses, which can in turn attack additional host cells. Students also learn how the immune system responds to a viral invasion, eventually defeating the viruses -- if all goes well. Finally, they consider the special case of HIV, in which the virus' host cell is a key component of the immune system itself, severely crippling it and ultimately leading to AIDS. The associated activity, Tracking a Virus, sets the stage for this lesson with a dramatic simulation that allows students to see for themselves how quickly a virus can spread through a population, and then challenges students to determine who the initial bearers of the virus were.

Subject:
Engineering
Health, Medicine and Nursing
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Wet Pennies
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Students conduct a simple test to determine how many drops of each of three liquids water, rubbing alcohol, vegetable oil can be placed on a penny before spilling over. Because of their different surface tensions, more water can be piled on top of a penny than either of the other two liquids. However, the main point of the activity is for students to come up with an explanation for their observations about the different amounts of liquids a penny can hold. To do this, they create hypotheses that explain their observations, and because middle school students are not likely to have prior knowledge of the property of surface tension, their hypotheses are not likely to include this idea. Then they are asked to come up with ways to test their hypotheses, although they do not need to actually conduct these tests as part of this activity.

Subject:
Engineering
Physics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
10/14/2015
What Do Bread and Beer Have in Common?
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Students are presented with information that will allow them to recognize that yeasts are unicellular organisms that are useful to humans. In fact, their usefulness is derived from the contrast between the way yeast cells and human cells respire. Specifically, while animal cells derive energy from the combination of oxygen and glucose and produce water and carbon dioxide as by-products, yeasts respire without oxygen. Instead, yeasts break glucose down and produce alcohol and carbon dioxide as their by-products. The lesson is also intended to provoke questions from students about the effects of alcohol on the human body, to which the teacher can provide objective answers.

Subject:
Engineering
Biology
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014
What Floats Your Boat?
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Students use modeling clay, a material that is denser than water and thus ordinarily sinks in water, to discover the principle of buoyancy. They begin by designing and building boats out of clay that will float in water, and then refine their designs so that their boats will carry as great a load (metal washers) as possible. Building a clay boat to hold as much weight as possible is an engineering design problem. Next, they compare amount of water displaced by a lump of clay that sinks to the amount of water displaced by the same lump of clay when it is shaped so as to float. Determining the masses of the displaced water allows them to arrive at Archimedes' principle, whereby the mass of the displaced water equals the mass of the floating clay boat.

Subject:
Engineering
Physics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Mary R. Hebrank
Date Added:
09/18/2014