In this lesson, students learn some basic facts about asteroids in our solar system. The main focus is on the size of asteroids and how that relates to the potential danger of an asteroid colliding with the Earth. Students are briefly introduced to the destruction that would ensue should a large asteroid hit, as it did 65 million years ago.
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Students learn about atoms and their structure (protons, electrons, neutrons) — the building blocks of matter. They see how scientific discoveries about atoms and molecules influence new technologies developed by engineers.
Working in teams of three, students perform quantitative observational experiments on the motion of LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT robotic vehicles powered by the stored potential energy of rubber bands. They experiment with different vehicle modifications (such as wheel type, payload, rubber band type and lubrication) and monitor the effects on vehicle performance. The main point of the activity, however, is for students to understand that through the manipulation of mechanics, a rubber band can be used in a rather non-traditional configuration to power a vehicle. In addition, this activity reinforces the idea that elastic energy can be stored as potential energy.
This activity poses the question: What would happen if a meteor or comet impacted Earth? Students simulate an impact in a container of sand using various-sized rocks, all while measuring, recording and graphing results and conclusions. Then students brainstorm ways to prevent an object from hitting the Earth.
Students learn about the periodic table and how pervasive the elements are in our daily lives. After reviewing the table organization and facts about the first 20 elements, they play an element identification game. They also learn that engineers incorporate these elements into the design of new products and processes. Acting as computer and animation engineers, students creatively express their new knowledge by creating a superhero character based on of the elements they now know so well. They will then pair with another superhero and create a dynamic duo out of the two elements, which will represent a molecule.
Students use gumdrops and toothpicks to make lithium atom models. Using these models, they investigate the makeup of atoms, including their relative size. Students are then asked to form molecules out of atoms, much in the same way they constructed atoms out of the particles that atoms are made of. Students also practice adding and subtracting electrons from an atom and determining the overall charges on atoms.
Students learn what causes hurricanes and what engineers do to help protect people from destruction caused by hurricane winds and rain. Research and data collection vessels allow for scientists and engineers to model and predict weather patterns and provide forecasts and storm warnings to the public. Engineers are also involved in the design and building of flood-prevention systems, such as levees and floodwalls. During the 2005 hurricane season, levees failed in the greater New Orleans area, contributing to the vast flooding and destruction of the historic city. In the associated activity, students learn how levees work, and they build their own levees and put them to the test!
While building and testing model rockets fueled by antacid tablets, students are introduced to the basic physics concepts on how rockets work. Students revise and improve their initial designs. Note: This activity is similar to the elementary-level film canister rockets activity, but adapted for middle school students.
In this activity, students learn how to prevent exposure to the Sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Students will systematically test various sunscreens to determine the relationship between spf (sun protection factor) value and sun exposure. At the end of the activity, students are asked to consider how this investigation could be used to help them design a new sunscreen.
In this lesson, students learn about the physical properties of the Moon. They compare these to the properties of the Earth to determine how life would be different for astronauts living on the Moon. Using their understanding of these differences, they are asked to think about what types of products engineers would need to design for us to live comfortably on the Moon.
In this lesson, students learn about sound. Girls and boys are introduced to the concept of frequency and how it applies to musical sounds.
In this activity, students investigate the properties of a heterogeneous mixture, trail mix, as if it were a contaminated soil sample near a construction site. This activity shows students that heterogeneous mixtures can be separated by physical means, and that when separated, all the parts will equal the whole.
This lesson plan introduces the properties of mixtures and solutions. A class demonstration gives the students the opportunity to compare and contrast the physical characteristics of a few simple mixtures and solutions. Students discuss the separation of mixtures and solutions back into their original components as well as different engineering applications of mixtures and solutions.
Students are introduced to the futuristic concept of the moon as a place people can inhabit. They brainstorm what people would need to live on the moon and then design a fantastic Moon colony and decide how to power it. Students use the engineering design process, which includes researching various types of energy sources and evaluating which would be best for their moon colonies.
The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the students to the Sun. They explore various aspects of the Sun including its composition, its interior workings, and its relationship to the Earth.
In this lesson, students learn about echolocation: what it is and how engineers use it to "see" things in the dark, or deep underwater. Also, they learn how animals use echolocation to catch their dinner and travel the ocean waters and skies without running into things.
Students design and build their own model levees. Acting as engineers for their city, teams create sturdy barriers to prevent water from flooding a city in the event of a hurricane.
Students work with partners to create four different instruments to investigate the frequency of the sounds they make. Teams may choose to make a shoebox guitar, water-glass xylophone, straw panpipe or a soda bottle organ (or all four!). Conduct this activity in conjunction with Lesson 3 of the Sound and Light unit.
In this lesson, students are introduced to the historical motivation for space exploration. They learn about the International Space Station as an example of recent space travel innovation and are introduced to new and futuristic ideas that space engineers are currently working on to propel space research far into the future!
This lesson plan examines the properties of elements and the periodic table. Students learn the basic definition of an element and the 18 elements that build most of the matter in the universe. The periodic table is described as one method of organization for the elements. The concepts of physical and chemical properties are also reviewed.