Student groups create working radios by soldering circuit components supplied from AM radio kits. By carrying out this activity in conjunction with its associated lesson concerning circuits and how AM radios work, students are able to identify each circuit component they are soldering, as well as how their placement causes the radio to work. Besides reinforcing lesson concepts, students also learn how to solder, which is an activity that many engineers perform regularly giving students a chance to be able to engage in a real-life engineering activity.
Students design and develop a useful assistive device for people challenged by fine motor skill development who cannot grasp and control objects. In the process of designing prototype devices, they learn about the engineering design process and how to use it to solve problems. After an introduction about the effects of disabilities and the importance of hand and finger dexterity, student pairs research, brainstorm, plan, budget, compare, select, prototype, test, evaluate and modify their design ideas to create devices that enable a student to hold and use a small paintbrush or crayon. The design challenge includes clearly identified criteria and constraints, to which teams rate their competing design solutions. Prototype testing includes independent evaluations by three classmates, after which students redesign to make improvements. To conclude, teams make one-slide presentations to the class to recap their design projects. This activity incorporates a 3D modeling and 3D printing component as students generate prototypes of their designs. However, if no 3D printer is available, the project can be modified to use traditional and/or simpler fabrication processes and basic materials.
Students learn more about assistive devices, specifically biomedical engineering applied to computer engineering concepts, with an engineering challenge to create an automatic floor cleaner computer program. Following the steps of the design process, they design computer programs and test them by programming a simulated robot vacuum cleaner (a LEGO® robot) to move in designated patterns. Successful programs meet all the design requirements.
The purpose of this activity is to bring together the students' knowledge of engineering and airplanes and the creation of a glider model to determine how each modification affects the flight. The students will use a design procedure whereby one variable is changed and all the others are kept constant.
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 use the scientific method to determine the effect of control surfaces on a paper glider. They construct paper airplanes (model gliders) and test their performance to determine the base characteristics of the planes. Then they change one of the control surfaces and compare the results to their base glider in order to determine the cause and effect relationship of the control surfaces.
Students design and build devices to protect and accurately deliver dropped eggs. The devices and their contents represent care packages that must be safely delivered to people in a disaster area with no road access. Similar to engineering design teams, students design their devices using a number of requirements and constraints such as limited supplies and time. The activity emphasizes the change from potential energy to kinetic energy of the devices and their contents and the energy transfer that occurs on impact. Students enjoy this competitive challenge as they attain a deeper understanding of mechanical energy concepts.
Students find the volume and surface area of a rectangular box (e.g., a cereal box), and then figure out how to convert that box into a new, cubical box having the same volume as the original. As they construct the new, cube-shaped box from the original box material, students discover that the cubical box has less surface area than the original, and thus, a cube is a more efficient way to package things. Students then consider why consumer goods generally aren't packaged in cube-shaped boxes, even though they would require less material to produce and ultimately, less waste to discard. To display their findings, each student designs and constructs a mobile that contains a duplicate of his or her original box, the new cube-shaped box of the same volume, the scraps that are left over from the original box, and pertinent calculations of the volumes and surface areas involved. The activities involved provide valuable experience in problem solving with spatial-visual relationships.
Students learn about stress and strain by designing and building beams using polymer clay. They compete to find the best beam strength to beam weight ratio, and learn about the trade-offs engineers make when designing a structure.
Students use a simple pH indicator to measure how much CO2 is produced during respiration, at rest and after exercising. They begin by comparing some common household solutions in order to determine the color change of the indicator. They review the concepts of pH and respiration and extend their knowledge to measuring the effectiveness of bioremediation in the environment.
Students explore how tension and compression forces act on three different bridge types. Using sponges, cardboard and string, they create models of beam, arch and suspension bridges and apply forces to understand how they disperse or transfer these loads.
Through a five-lesson series that includes numerous hands-on activities, students are introduced to the importance and pervasiveness of bridges for connecting people to resources, places and other people, with references to many historical and current-day examples. In learning about bridge types arch, beam, truss and suspension students explore the effect of tensile and compressive forces. Students investigate the calculations that go into designing bridges; they learn about loads and cross-sectional areas by designing and testing the strength of model piers. Geology and soils are explored as they discover the importance of foundations, bearing pressure and settlement considerations in the creation of dependable bridges and structures. Students learn about brittle and ductile material properties. Students also learn about the many cost factors that comprise the economic considerations of bridge building. Bridges are unique challenges that take advantage of the creative nature of engineering.
This lesson is designed to be used within the heat transfer unit as an engineering design project.
My goal is to teach students:
The difference in heat conductivity of different materials.
Engage students in thinking about the principles of engineering (designing to meet criteria determined by the desired result).
Total class time:
170 minutes (2 class blocks, 1 period for demo, in-class design, 1 period for student-requested informational experiments).
Students identify different bridge designs and construction materials used in modern day engineering. They work in construction teams to create paper bridges and spaghetti bridges based on existing bridge designs. Students progressively realize the importance of the structural elements in each bridge. They also measure vertical displacements under the center of the spaghetti bridge span when a load is applied. Vertical deflection is measured using a LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT intelligent brick and ultrasonic sensor. As they work, students experience tension and compression forces acting on structural elements of the two bridge prototypes. In conclusion, students discuss the material properties of paper and spaghetti and compare bridge designs with performance outcomes.
Students will design, build, and test a spring-powered pontoon boat using common materials that must travel at least 20cm. Students will then use video software to analyze the motion of their craft.
Earthquakes happen when forces in the Earth cause violent shaking of the ground. Earthquakes can be very destructive to buildings and other man-made structures. Design and build various types of buildings, then test your buildings for earthquake resistance using a shake table and a force sensor that measures how hard a force pushes or pulls your building.
After completing the associated lesson and its first associated activity, students are familiar with the 20 major bones in the human body knowing their locations and relative densities. When those bones break, lose their densities or are destroyed, we look to biomedical engineers to provide replacements. In this activity, student pairs are challenged to choose materials and create prototypes that could replace specific bones. They follow the steps of the engineering design process, researching, brainstorming, prototyping and testing to find bone replacement solutions. Specifically, they focus on identifying substances that when combined into a creative design might provide the same density (and thus strength and support) as their natural counterparts. After iterations to improve their designs, they present their bone alternative solutions to the rest of the class. They refer to the measured and calculated densities for fabricated human bones calculated in the previous activity, and conduct Internet research to learn the densities of given fabrication materials (or measure/calculate those densities if not found online).
As part of a (hypothetical) challenge to help a city find the most affordable and environmentally friendly way to clean up an oil spill, students design and conduct controlled experiments to quantify capillary action in sand. Like engineers and entrepreneurs, student teams use affordable materials to design and construct models to measure the rate of capillary action in four types of sand: coarse, medium, fine and mixed. After observing and learning from a teacher-conducted capillary tube demonstration, teams are given a selection of possible materials and a budget to work within as they design their own experimental setups. After the construction of their designs, they take measurements to quantify the rate of capillary action, create graphs to analyze the data, and make concluding recommendations. Groups compare data and discuss as a class the pros and cons of their designs. Pre- and post-evaluations and two worksheets are provided.
In this unit, students look at the components of cells and their functions and discover the controversy behind stem cell research. The first lesson focuses on the difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. In the second lesson, students learn about the basics of cellular respiration. They also learn about the application of cellular respiration to engineering and bioremediation. The third lesson continues students' education on cells in the human body and how (and why) engineers are involved in the research of stem cell behavior.
Students become familiar with the engineering design process as they design, build and test chair prototypes. The miniature chairs must be sturdy and functional enough to hold a wooden, hinged artist model or a floppy stuffed animal. They use their prototypes to assess design strengths and weaknesses.