Students learn about the process of reverse engineering and how this technique is used to improve upon technology. Students analyze push-toys and draw diagrams of the predicted mechanisms inside the toys. Then, they disassemble the toys and draw the actual inner mechanisms. By understanding how the push-toys function, students make suggestions for improvement, such as cost effectiveness, improved functionality, ecological friendliness and any additional functionality they determine is an improvement.
This illustrated guide to a grasshopper's head is designed to help students recognize and learn the many parts found on an insect's head. The single Web page, which can be easily printed for use at field sites or in the lab, also includes a short description for the following labeled parts: ocellus compound eye antenna gena frons clypeus mandible labrum labium palps.
Students' eyes are opened to the value of creative, expressive and succinct visual presentation of data, findings and concepts. Student pairs design, redesign and perform simple experiments to test the differences in thermal conductivity (heat flow) through different media (foil and thin steel). Then students create visual diagrams of their findings that can be understood by anyone with little background on the subject, applying their newly learned art vocabulary and concepts to clearly communicate their results. The principles of visual design include contrast, alignment, repetition and proximity; the elements of visual design include an awareness of the use of lines, color, texture, shape, size, value and space. If students already have data available from other experiments, have them jump right into the diagram creation and critique portions of the activity.
Students learn the value of writing and art in science and engineering. They acquire vocabulary that is appropriate for explaining visual art and learn about visual design principles (contrast, alignment, repetition and proximity) and elements (lines, color, texture, shape, size, value and space) that are helpful when making visual aids. A PowerPoint(TM) presentation heightens students' awareness of the connection between art and engineering in order to improve the presentation of results, findings, concepts, information and prototype designs. Students also learn about the science and engineering research funding process that relies on effective proposal presentations, as well as some thermal conductivity / heat flow basics including the real-world example of a heat sink which prepares them for the associated activity in which they focus on creating diagrams to communicate their own collected experimental data.