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.
Survey potential bridge sites, research bridge design, and select the right bridge for the right location in this interactive activity from the NOVA Web site. ***Access to Teacher's Domain content now requires free login to PBS Learning Media.
In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, the cast shows how the 34 steps in their Rube Goldberg invention use everything from gravity to carbon dioxide gas in order to accomplish one simple task: pouring a glass of milk.
In this video segment from ZOOM, Jillian explains how her simple machine uses marbles, levers, flowing sand, and a spinning wheel to water a plant.
In this video segment from PEEP and the Big Wide World, children make a dam with dirt, sticks, and stones to try to stop the flow of water.
- Material Type:
- PBS LearningMedia
- Provider Set:
- PBS Learning Media: Multimedia Resources for the Classroom and Professional Development
- Argosy Foundation
- WGBH Educational Foundation
- Date Added:
How do you build a tunnel 32 miles long -- under water? This video segment adapted from Building Big, follows the construction of the Channel Tunnel (nicknamed "Chunnel"), the engineering wonder that connects England to France.
This unit consists of five lessons covering buoyancy and engineering boats. Each lesson includes goals, anticipatory set, learner objectives, guided practice, procedure instructions, closing activities, and extensions. Student handouts and worksheets are also included.
Lesson 1: Intro to Buoyancy
Lesson 2: Engineer a Barge
Lesson 3: Intro to Sails & Motion
Lesson 4: Engineer a Sailboat
Lesson 5: Final Vessel
NGSS: 3-5-ETS1-1, 3-5-ETS1-2, 3-5-ETS1-3
Lesson 1 materials: empty 2-liter bottles with tops cut off, pennies or other coins, marble, modeling clay, crap wood, rocks, pingpong ball, golf ball, popsicle stick, paper clip, scale, other object for floating or sinking
Lesson 2 materials: for each student - 12" x 12" piece of aluminum foil, 4 popsicle sticks, 2 straws, 12" masking tape; teacher pre-setup - enough pennies for testing (500 pennies per group), pool filled 2/3 with water
Lesson 3 materials: string/yarn, 1/2 straw for each student, 2 different types of paper (tissue & white copy paper), tape, scissors, fan, wooden skewers, 2 popsicle sticks per student, rulers, protractors, stencils.
Lesson 4 materials: 8 popsicle sticks, 1 wooden skewer, 1 straw, masking tape or duct tape, tissue paper or copy paper
Lesson 5 materials: same as Lesson 2
Every form of life that we know of requires carbon. This Mini Lecture introduces to the chemically most versatile element, essential to all life, both as an energy source and as building stock. Lecture snippets of the chemists Robert Curl und Karl Ziegler explain the structure of the symmetric C60 molecule as well as the Ziegler-Natta process used to make polymers.
Our students will be asked to pick a career and to study and research that career for an oral presentation. This presentation will require visuals that go along with their career. They are also going to be meeting professionals from other occupations like a career day and talking about what they have learned.
We design and create objects to make our lives easier and more comfortable. The houses in which we live are excellent examples of this. Depending on your local climate, the features of your house have been designed to satisfy your particular environmental needs: protection from hot, cold, windy and/or rainy weather. In this activity, students design and build model houses, then test them against various climate elements, and then re-design and improve them. Using books, websites and photos, students learn about the different types of roofs found on various houses in different environments throughout the world.
Students will explore properties of sound and sound waves, experiment with building models of various musical instruments, then design and build a playable musical instrument of their choosing.
This resources provides information about setting up a construction site dramatic play center. Resources, question prompts, literature recommendations, picture examples, and downloadable resources are included.
Students learn about factors that engineers take into consideration when designing buildings for earthquake-prone regions. Using online resources and simulations available through the Earthquakes Living Lab, students explore the consequences of subsurface ground type and building height on seismic destruction. Working in pairs, students think like engineers to apply what they have learned to sketches of their own building designs intended to withstand strong-magnitude earthquakes. A worksheet serves as a student guide for the activity.
If you’re interested in the concept of building with nature, then this is the engineering course for you. This course explores the use of natural materials and ecological processes in achieving effective and sustainable hydraulic infrastructural designs. You will learn the Building with Nature ecosystem-based design concept and its applications in water and coastal systems. During the course, you will be presented with a range of case studies to deepen your knowledge of ecological and engineering principles.
You’ll learn from leading Dutch engineers and environmental scientists who see the Building with Nature integrated design approach as fundamental to a new generation of engineers and ecologists.
English for Construction Workers is intended as a free resource for those working in the construction industry. The activities have been designed for use in a classroom setting with a suitably qualified instructor.
Students learn about water erosion through an experimental process in which small-scale buildings are placed along a simulated riverbank to experience a range of flooding conditions. They learn how soil conditions are important to the stability or failure of civil engineering projects and how a river's turns and bends (curvature, sinuosity) make a difference in the likelihood of erosion. They make model buildings either with a 3D printer or with LEGO® pieces and then see how their designs and riverbank placements are impacted by slow (laminar) and fast (turbulent) water flow over the soil. Students make predictions, observations and conclusions about the stability of their model houses, and develop ideas for how to mitigate damage in civil engineering projects.
Children in kindergarten through fifth grade and their families are invited to learn more about the field of engineering in this hour-long special program. Family Night: Engineering introduces children to cool careers within the field of engineering that range from building roller coasters to designing artificial heart pumps for children who need them. Children will also get a chance to participate in hands-on engineering activities during the program!
The best part? Everything they need to participate can be found right in your home.
Is the hydrogen car the answer to global warming? This video segment adapted from NOVA/FRONTLINE looks at the pros and cons of this developing technology.
This lesson introduces the ways that engineers study and harness the wind. Students will learn about the different kinds of winds and how to measure wind direction. In addition, students will learn how air pressure creates winds and how engineers build and test wind turbines to harness energy from wind.
This lesson plan helps students understand the factors that affect water quality and the conditions that allow for different animals and plants to survive. Students will look at the effects of water quality on various water-related activities and describe water as an environmental, economic and social resource. The students will also learn how engineers use water quality information to make decisions about stream modifications.
Waste disposal has been an ongoing problem since medieval times. Environmental engineers are employed to develop technologies to dispose of the enormous amount of trash produced in the United States. In this lesson, students will learn about the three methods of waste disposal in use by modern communities. They will also investigate how engineers design sanitary landfills to prevent leachate from polluting the underlining groundwater.
provides an overview of an exhibit which explains the historical role of transportation in visitors exploration of National Parks -- from the stagecoach to the automobile.
Four full-year digital course, built from the ground up and fully-aligned to the Common Core State Standards, for 7th grade Mathematics. Created using research-based approaches to teaching and learning, the Open Access Common Core Course for Mathematics is designed with student-centered learning in mind, including activities for students to develop valuable 21st century skills and academic mindset.
Zooming In On Figures
Type of Unit: Concept; Project
Length of Unit: 18 days and 5 days for project
Students should be able to:
Find the area of triangles and special quadrilaterals.
Use nets composed of triangles and rectangles in order to find the surface area of solids.
Find the volume of right rectangular prisms.
After an initial exploratory lesson that gets students thinking in general about geometry and its application in real-world contexts, the unit is divided into two concept development sections: the first focuses on two-dimensional (2-D) figures and measures, and the second looks at three-dimensional (3-D) figures and measures.
The first set of conceptual lessons looks at 2-D figures and area and length calculations. Students explore finding the area of polygons by deconstructing them into known figures. This exploration will lead to looking at regular polygons and deriving a general formula. The general formula for polygons leads to the formula for the area of a circle. Students will also investigate the ratio of circumference to diameter ( pi ). All of this will be applied toward looking at scale and the way that length and area are affected. All the lessons noted above will feature examples of real-world contexts.
The second set of conceptual development lessons focuses on 3-D figures and surface area and volume calculations. Students will revisit nets to arrive at a general formula for finding the surface area of any right prism. Students will extend their knowledge of area of polygons to surface area calculations as well as a general formula for the volume of any right prism. Students will explore the 3-D surface that results from a plane slicing through a rectangular prism or pyramid. Students will also explore 3-D figures composed of cubes, finding the surface area and volume by looking at 3-D views.
The unit ends with a unit examination and project presentations.
Students will resume their project and decide on dimensions for their buildings. They will use scale to calculate the dimensions and areas of their model buildings when full size. Students will also complete a Self Check in preparation for the Putting It Together lesson.Key ConceptsThe first part of the project is essentially a review of the unit so far. Students will find the area of a composite figure—either a polygon that can be broken down into known areas, or a regular polygon. Students will also draw the figure using scale and find actual lengths and areas.GoalsRedraw a scale drawing at a different scale.Find measurements using a scale drawing.Find the area of a composite figure.SWD: Consider what supplementary materials may benefit and support students with disabilities as they work on this project:Vocabulary resource(s) that students can reference as they work:List of formulas, with visual supports if appropriateClass summaries or lesson artifacts that help students to recall and apply newly introduced skillsChecklists of expectations and steps required to promote self-monitoring and engagementModels and examplesStudents with disabilities may take longer to develop a solid understanding of newly introduced skills and concepts. They may continue to require direct instruction and guided practice with the skills and concepts relating to finding area and creating and interpreting scale drawings. Check in with students to assess their understanding of newly introduced concepts and plan review and reinforcement of skills as needed.ELL: As academic vocabulary is reviewed, be sure to repeat it and allow students to repeat after you as needed. Consider writing the words as they are being reviewed. Allow enough time for ELLs to check their dictionaries if they wish.
In the southwestern US and in Mexico (and in other parts of the world), where there are not many trees, people often build houses out of mud bricks called adobe. Adobe houses are warm in the evening and cool in the daytime. If a mud brick is warmed by the sun, how long will it continue to give off warmth once the sun goes down?
A workbook for administrators looking to have a coordinated OER implementation in their district, building, or target group; includes questions to answer and activities to help guide the work. This is a remix of 11 other OER resources, along with original work.
Students conduct an experiment to determine how varying the composition of a construction material affects its strength. They make several adobe bricks with differing percentages of sand, soil, fibrous material and water. They test the bricks for strength by dropping them onto a concrete surface from progressively greater heights. Students graph the experiment results and use what they learn to design their own special mix that maximizes the bricks' strength. During the course of the experiment, students learn about variables (independent, dependent, control) and the steps of the engineering design process.
Students are introduced to passive solar design for buildings an approach that uses the sun's energy and the surrounding climate to provide natural heating and cooling. They learn about some of the disadvantages of conventional heating and cooling and how engineers incorporate passive solar designs into our buildings for improved efficiency.
Working individually or in pairs, students compete to design, create, test and redesign free-standing, weight-bearing towers using Kapla(TM) wooden blocks. The challenge is to build the tallest tower while meeting the design criteria and minimizing the amount of material used all within a time limit. Students experiment with different geometric shapes used in structural designs and determine how design choices affect the height and strength of structures, becoming comfortable with the concepts of structural members and modeling.
Students learn about material reuse by designing and building the strongest and tallest towers they can, using only recycled materials. They follow design constraints and build their towers to withstand earthquake and high wind simulations.
Students explore whether rooftop gardens are a viable option for combating the urban heat island effect. Can rooftop gardens reduce the temperature inside and outside houses? Teams each design and construct two model buildings using foam core board, one with a "green roof" and the other with a black tar paper roof. They measure and graph the ambient and inside building temperatures while under heat lamps and fans. Then students analyze the data and determine whether the rooftop gardens are beneficial to the inhabitants.
Students learn about how engineers design and build shake tables to test the ability of buildings to withstand the various types of seismic waves generated by earthquakes. Just like engineers, students design and build shake tables to test their own model buildings made of toothpicks and mini marshmallows. Once students are satisfied with the performance of their buildings, they put them through a one-minute simulated earthquake challenge.
In this video from DragonflyTV, follow the investigation of Isaac and Anjali as they record, measure, and analyze data about how the Sun's position in the sky affects a solar-powered car's speed.
- Environmental Science
- Forestry and Agriculture
- Material Type:
- PBS LearningMedia
- Provider Set:
- PBS Learning Media: Multimedia Resources for the Classroom and Professional Development
- National Science Foundation
- WGBH Educational Foundation
- Date Added:
Students learn about civil engineers and work through each step of the engineering design process in two mini-activities that prepare them for a culminating challenge to design and build the tallest straw tower possible, given limited time and resources. First they examine the profiles of the tallest 20 towers in the world. Then in the first mini-activity (one-straw tall tower), student pairs each design a way to keep one straw upright with the least amount of tape and fewest additional straws. In the second mini-activity (no "fishing pole"), the pairs determine the most number of straws possible to construct a vertical straw tower before it bends at 45 degrees—resembling a fishing pole shape. Students learn that the taller a structure, the more tendency it has to topple over. In the culminating challenge (tallest straw tower), student pairs apply what they have learned and follow the steps of the engineering design process to create the tallest possible model tower within time, material and building constraints, mirroring the real-world engineering experience of designing solutions within constraints. Three worksheets are provided, for each of two levels, grades K-2 and grades 3-5. The activity scales up to school-wide, district or regional competition scale.
This unit consists of five lessons covering architecture and structural engineering. Each lesson includes goals, anticipatory set, learner objectives, guided practice, procedure instructions, closing activities, and extensions. Student handouts and worksheets are also included.
Lesson 1: Animal Structures
Lesson 2: Homes
Lesson 3: Stability
Lesson 4: Local Towers & Bridges
Lesson 5: Schools
NGSS: K-2-ETS1-1, K-2-ETS1-2, K-2-ETS1-3, 3-5-ETS1-1, 3-5-ETS1-2, 3-5-ETS1-3
Materials: blocks or other building toys, ruler, book or ball (for weight), graph paper, pencils, and floor plan of school or hand-drawn approximation featuring highlights.
Students use a table-top-sized tsunami generator to observe the formation and devastation of a tsunami. They see how a tsunami moves across the ocean and what happens when it reaches the continental shelf. Students make villages of model houses and buildings to test how different material types are impacted by the huge waves. They further discuss how engineers design buildings to survive tsunamis. Much of this activity setup is the same as for the Mini-Landscape activity in Lesson 4 of the Natural Disasters unit.
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.