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.
In this hands-on activity, students explore the electrical force that takes place between two objects. Each student builds an electroscope and uses the device to draw conclusions about objects' charge intensity. Students also determine what factors influence electric force.
Students create their own anemometers instruments for measuring wind speed. They see how an anemometer measures wind speed by taking measurements at various school locations. They also learn about different types of anemometers, real-world applications, and how wind speed information helps engineers decide where to place wind turbines.
We are surrounded everyday by circuits that utilize "in parallel" and "in series" circuitry. Complicated circuits designed by engineers are made of many simpler parallel and series circuits. In this hands-on activity, students build parallel circuits, exploring how they function and their unique features.
Everyday we are surrounded by circuits that use "in parallel" and "in series" circuitry. Complicated circuits designed by engineers are composed of many simpler parallel and series circuits. During this activity, students build a simple series circuit and discover the properties associated with series circuits.
In the exploration of ways to use solar energy, students investigate the thermal energy storage capacities of different test materials to determine which to use in passive solar building design.
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.
Students use balloons to perform several simple experiments to explore static electricity and charge polarization.
In the everyday electrical devices we use calculators, remote controls and cell phones a voltage source such as a battery is required to close the circuit and operate the device. In this hands-on activity, students use batteries, wires, small light bulbs and light bulb holders to learn the difference between an open circuit and a closed circuit, and understand that electric current only occurs in a closed circuit.
Students learn about using renewable energy from the Sun for heating and cooking as they build and compare the performance of four solar cooker designs. They explore the concepts of insulation, reflection, absorption, conduction and convection.
Students learn about current electricity and necessary conditions for the existence of an electric current. Students construct a simple electric circuit and a galvanic cell to help them understand voltage, current and resistance.
Students drop water from different heights to demonstrate the conversion of water's potential energy to kinetic energy. They see how varying the height from which water is dropped affects the splash size. They follow good experiment protocol, take measurements, calculate averages and graph results. In seeing how falling water can be used to do work, they also learn how this energy transformation figures into the engineering design and construction of hydroelectric power plants, dams and reservoirs.
Students gain an understanding of the difference between electrical conductors and insulators, and experience recognizing a conductor by its material properties. In a hands-on activity, students build a conductivity tester to determine whether different objects are conductors or insulators. In another activity, students use their understanding of electrical properties to choose appropriate materials to design and build their own basic circuit switch.
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.
To learn how friction affects motion, students explore how different textures provide varying amounts of friction to objects moving across them. They build a tool to measure the amount of friction between a note card and various surfaces by measuring the distance that a rubber band stretches. They experiment with a range of materials to determine which provides the least/most friction.
Students learn about the nature of thermal energy, temperature and how materials store thermal energy. They discuss the difference between conduction, convection and radiation of thermal energy, and complete activities in which they investigate the difference between temperature, thermal energy and the heat capacity of different materials. Students also learn how some engineering requires an understanding of thermal energy.
Students relate thermal energy to heat capacity by comparing the heat capacities of different materials and graphing the change in temperature over time for a specific material. Students learn why heat capacity is an important property of thermal energy that engineers use in many applications.
Students learn how the sun can be used for energy. They learn about passive solar heating, lighting and cooking, and active solar engineering technologies (such as photovoltaic arrays and concentrating mirrors) that generate electricity. Students investigate the thermal energy storage capacities of test materials. They learn about radiation and convection as they build a model solar water heater and determine how much it can heat water in a given amount of time. In another activity, students build and compare the performance of four solar cooker designs. In an associated literacy activity, students investigate how people live "off the grid" using solar power.
During a power failure, or when we go outside at night, we grab a flashlight so we can find our way. What happens inside a flashlight that makes the bulb light up? Why do we need a switch to turn on a flashlight? Have you ever noticed that for the flashlight to work you must orient the batteries a certain way as you insert them into the casing? Many people do not know that a flashlight is a simple series circuit. In this hands-on activity, students build this everyday household item and design their own operating series circuit flashlights.
Students learn about the difference between temperature and thermal energy. They build a thermometer using simple materials and develop their own scale for measuring temperature. They compare their thermometer to a commercial thermometer, and get a sense for why engineers need to understand the properties of thermal energy.
Students explore the composition and practical application of parallel circuitry, compared to series circuitry. Students design and build parallel circuits and investigate their characteristics, and apply Ohm's law.
Students learn that charge movement through a circuit depends on the resistance and arrangement of the circuit components. In a hands-on activity, students build and investigate the characteristics of series circuits. In another activity, students design and build a flashlight.
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.
Students learn how water is used to generate electricity. They investigate water's potential-to-kinetic energy transformation in hands-on activities about falling water and waterwheels. During the activities, they take measurements, calculate averages and graph results. Students also learn the history of the waterwheel and how engineers use water turbines in hydroelectric power plants today. They discover the advantages and disadvantages of hydroelectric power. In a literacy activity, students learn and write about an innovative new hydro-electrical power generation technology.
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.
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.
In this hands-on activity, students construct a simple switch and determine what objects and what types of materials can be used to close a switch in a circuit and light a light bulb.
Students come to understand static electricity by learning about the nature of electric charge, and different methods for charging objects. In a hands-on activity, students induce an electrical charge on various objects, and experiment with electrical repulsion and attraction.
Students learn about wind as a source of renewable energy and explore the advantages and disadvantages wind turbines and wind farms. They also learn about the effectiveness of wind turbines in varying weather conditions and how engineers work to create wind power that is cheaper, more reliable and safer for wildlife.
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 build their own two-cell batteries. They also determine which electrolyte solution is best suited for making batteries.
Students learn the history of the waterwheel and common uses for water turbines today. They explore kinetic energy by creating their own experimental waterwheel from a two-liter plastic bottle. They investigate the transformations of energy involved in turning the blades of a hydro-turbine into work, and experiment with how weight affects the rotational rate of the waterwheel. Students also discuss and explore the characteristics of hydroelectric plants.
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.
Students build their own simple conductivity tester and explore whether given solid materials and solutions of liquids are good conductors of electricity.
Students learn how engineers transform wind energy into electrical energy by building their own miniature wind turbines and measuring the electrical current it produces. They explore how design and position affect the electrical energy production.