Lighting is responsible for nearly one-third of the electricity use in buildings. One of the best ways to conserve energy is to make sure the lights are turned off when no one is in a room. This process can be automated using motion sensors. In this activity, students explore material properties as they relate to motion detection, and use that knowledge to make design judgments about what types of motion detectors to use in specific applications.
Students are introduced to the correct technical vocabulary for lighting, which is different than layperson's terms. They learn about lamp (light bulb) technology and how to identify the various types of lighting in their spaces. They are also introduced to lighting controls as a means for saving energy- reducing costs, human energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions on the environment. Using an accompanying worksheet, students embark on a guided audit in which they survey the lighting in their classroom and identify the potential savings from using controls.
Students learn about the fundamental strength of different shapes, illustrating why structural engineers continue to use the triangle as the structural shape of choice. Examples from everyday life are introduced to show how this shape is consistently used for structural strength. Along with its associated activity, this lesson empowers students to explore the strength of trusses made with different triangular elements to evaluate the various structural properties.