Students wire up their own digital trumpets using a MaKey MaKey. They learn the basics of wiring a breadboard and use the digital trumpets to count in the binary number system. Teams are challenged to play songs using the binary system and their trumpets, and then present them in a class concert.
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Students measure the relative intensity of a magnetic field as a function of distance. They place a permanent magnet selected distances from a compass, measure the deflection, and use the gathered data to compute the relative magnetic field strength. Based on their findings, students create mathematical models and use the models to calculate the field strength at the edge of the magnet. They use the periodic table to predict magnetism. Finally, students create posters to communicate the details their findings. This activity guides students to think more deeply about magnetism and the modeling of fields while practicing data collection and analysis. An equations handout and two grading rubrics are provided.
Students learn about engineering applications in artistic venues by designing and creating eye masks that each contain three LEDs. They explore parallel circuits with their LEDs, and sew with conductive thread to create light-up displays on their masks, gaining hands-on experience in using engineering technologies as well as custom product design and assembly.
Students apply sound-activated light-up EL wire to create personalized light-up clothing outfits. During the project, students become familiar with the components, code and logic to complete circuits and employ their imaginations to real-world applications of technology. Acting as if they are engineers, students are challenged to incorporate electroluminescent wire to regular clothing to make attention-getting safety clothing for joggers and cyclists. Luminescent EL wire stays cool, making it ideal to sew into wearable projects. They use the SparkFun sound detector and the EL sequencer circuit board to flash the EL wire to the rhythm of ambient sound, such as music, clapping, talking—or roadway traffic sounds! The combination of sensors, microcontrollers and EL wire enables a wide range of feedback and control options.
Students learn the functions of pre-programmed microcontroller units such as the LilyMini ProtoSnap as they use them to create light-up pennants with LED components. Students design their own felt pennants and sew on circuit components using conductive thread. This activity gives students hands-on experience with engineering technologies while making creative pennants with LED lights that can illuminate in three pre-programmed sequences: all on, breathing, and twinkle.
Students take a close look at truss structures, the geometric shapes that compose them, and the many variations seen in bridge designs in use every day. Through a guided worksheet, students draw assorted 2D and 3D polygon shapes and think through their forms and interior angles (mental “testing”) before and after load conditions are applied. They see how engineers add structural members to polygon shapes to support them under compression and tension, and how triangles provide the strongest elemental shape. A PowerPoint® presentation is provided. This lesson prepares students for two associated activities that continue the series on polygons and trusses.
Students learn about the role engineers play in designing and building truss structures. Simulating a real-world civil engineering challenge, student teams are tasked to create strong and unique truss structures for a local bridge. They design to address project constraints, including the requirement to incorporate three different polygon shapes, and follow the steps of the engineering design process. They use hot glue and Popsicle sticks to create their small-size bridge prototypes. After compressive load tests, they evaluate their results and redesign for improvement. They collect, graph and analyze before/after measurements of interior angles to investigate shape deformation. A PowerPoint® presentation, design worksheet and data collection sheet are provided. This activity is the final step in a series on polygons and trusses.
Students learn about regular polygons and the common characteristics of regular polygons. They relate their mathematical knowledge of these shapes to the presence of these shapes in the human-made structures around us, especially trusses. Through a guided worksheet and teamwork, students explore the idea of dividing regular polygons into triangles, calculating the sums of angles in polygons using triangles, and identifying angles in shapes using protractors. They derive equations 1) for the sum of interior angles in a regular polygon, and 2) to find the measure of each angle in a regular n-gon. This activity extends students’ knowledge to engineering design and truss construction. This activity is the middle step in a series on polygons and trusses, and prepares students for the Polygon and Popsicle Trusses associated activity.