Students make a simple conductivity tester using a battery and light bulb. They learn the difference between conductors and insulators of electrical energy as they test a variety of materials for their ability to conduct electricity.
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Students are introduced to the idea that energy use impacts the environment and our wallets. They discuss different types of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources, as well as the impacts of energy consumption. Through a series of activities, students understand how they use energy and how it is transformed from one type to another. They learn innovative ways engineers conserve energy and how energy can be conserved in their homes.
Students search for clues of energy around them. They use what they find to create their own definition of energy. They also relate their energy clues to the engineering products they encounter every day.
Students are introduced to sound energy concepts and how engineers use sound energy. Through hands-on activities and demonstrations, students examine how we know sound exists by listening to and seeing sound waves. They learn to describe sound in terms of its pitch, volume and frequency. They explore how sound waves move through liquids, solids and gases. They also identify the different pitches and frequencies, and create high- and low-pitch sound waves.
In this activity, students will use a tutorial on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website to learn about how surface water is treated to make it safe to drink.
Students are introduced to the idea of electrical energy. They learn about the relationships between charge, voltage, current and resistance. They discover that electrical energy is the form of energy that powers most of their household appliances and toys. In the associated activities, students learn how a circuit works and test materials to see if they conduct electricity. Building upon a general understanding of electrical energy, they design their own potato power experiment. In two literacy activities, students learn about the electrical power grid and blackouts.
This lesson will allow students to explore an important role of environmental engineers: cleaning the environment. Students will learn details about the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which was one of the most publicized and studied environmental tragedies in history. In the accompanying activity, they will try many "engineered" strategies to clean up their own manufactured oil spill and learn the difficulties of dealing with oil released into our waters.
This hands-on experiment will provide students with an understanding of the issues that surround environmental cleanup. Students will create their own oil spill, try different methods for cleaning it up, and then discuss the merits of each method in terms of effectiveness (cleanliness) and cost. They will be asked to put themselves in the place of both an environmental engineer and an oil company owner who are responsible for the clean-up.
Students learn about oil spills and their environmental and economic effects. They experience the steps of the engineering design process as they brainstorm potential methods for oil spill clean-up, and then design, build, and re-design oil booms to prevent the spread of oil spills. During a reflective session after cleaning up their oil booms, students come up with ideas on how to reduce oil consumption to prevent future oil spills.
Students engage in an interactive "hot potato" demonstration to gain an appreciation for the flow of electrons through a circuit. Students role play the different parts of a simple circuit and send small items representing electrons (paper or candy pieces) through the circuit.
Students use potatoes to light an LED clock (or light bulb) as they learn how a battery works in a simple circuit and how chemical energy changes to electrical energy. As they learn more about electrical energy, they better understand the concepts of voltage, current and resistance.
Student groups rotate through four stations to examine light energy behavior: refraction, magnification, prisms and polarization. They see how a beam of light is refracted (bent) through various transparent mediums. While learning how a magnifying glass works, students see how the orientation of an image changes with the distance of the lens from its focal point. They also discover how a prism works by refracting light and making rainbows. And, students investigate the polar nature of light using sunglasses and polarized light film.
In this activity, students act as engineers to determine which type of insulation would conserve the most energy.
People use energy in all aspects of their lives for cooking, lighting and entertainment. Much of this energy use takes place in buildings, such as our homes. To save money and reduce the impact on our environment, many people are reducing their energy use. One way is to hire engineers to perform home energy audits to understand the ways we use energy and identify ways we can conserve energy. In this activity, students act as energy conservation engineers and identify the ways energy is conserved or wasted. They also learn many ways to personally conserve energy everyday.
Three short, hands-on, in-class demos expand students' understand of energy. First, using peanuts and heat, students see how the human body burns food to make energy. Then, students create paper snake mobiles to explore how heat energy can cause motion. Finally, students determine the effect that heat energy from the sun (or a lamp) has on temperature by placing pans of water in different locations.
With an introduction to the ideas of energy, students discuss specific types of energy and the practical sources of energy. Hands-on activities help them identify types of energy in their surroundings and enhance their understanding of energy.
Contamination in drinking water sources or watersheds can negatively affect the organisms that come in contact with it. The affects can be severe causing illness or, in some cases, even death. It is important for people to understand how they can contribute to the contaminants in drinking water and what treatment can be done to counter these harmful effects. Students will learn about the various methods developed by environmental engineers for treating drinking water in the United States.