Commercial fishing nets often trap "unprofitable" animals in the process of catching target species. In this activity, students experience the difficulty that fishermen experience while trying to isolate a target species when a variety of sea animals are found in the area of interest. Then the class discusses the large magnitude of this problem. Students practice data acquisition and analysis skills by collecting data and processing it to deduce trends on target species distribution. They conclude by discussing how bycatch impacts their lives and whether or not it is an important environmental issue that needs attention. As an extension, students use their creativity and innovative skills to design nets or other methods, theoretically and/or through hands-on prototyping, that fisherman could use to help avoid bycatch.
In this unit of study students learn how an animal's body structure and behavior help it survive in its habitat. This unit integrates nine STEM attributes and was developed as part of the South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership's Teacher Leadership Team. Any instructional materials are included within this unit of study.
In this activity, students construct their own rocket-powered boat called an "aqua-thruster." These aqua-thrusters will be made from a film canister and will use carbon dioxide gas produced from a chemical reaction between an antacid tablet and water to propel it. Students observe the effect that surface area of this simulated solid rocket fuel has on thrust.
Students create four-legged walking robots and measure how far they travel across different types of surfaces. They design and create "shoes" to add to the robots' feet and observe the effect of their modifications on the net distance traveled across the various surface types. This activity illustrates how the specialized locomotive features of different species help them to survive or thrive in their habitat environments. The activity is best as an enrichment tool that follows a lesson that introduces the concept of biological adaptation to students.
Students learn more about how muscles work and how biomedical engineers can help keep the muscular system healthy. Following the engineering design process, they create their own biomedical device to aid in the recovery of a strained bicep. They discover the importance of rest to muscle recovery and that muscles (just like engineers!) work together to achieve a common goal.
In this lesson, the students will discover the relationship between an object's mass and the amount of space it takes up (its volume). The students will also learn about the concepts of displacement and density.
In this simulation of a doctor's office, students play the roles of physician, nurse, patients, and time-keeper, with the objective to improve the patient waiting time. They collect and graph data as part of their analysis. This serves as a hands-on example of using engineering principles and engineering design approaches (such as models and simulations) to research, analyze, test and improve processes.
In this activity, students learn about their heart rate and different ways it can be measured. Students construct a simple measurement device using clay and a toothpick, and then use this device to measure their heart rate under different circumstances (i.e., sitting, standing and jumping). Students make predictions and record data on a worksheet.
In this multi-day activity, students explore environments, ecosystems, energy flow and organism interactions by creating a scale model biodome, following the steps of the engineering design process. The Procedure section provides activity instructions for Biodomes unit, lessons 2-6, as students work through Parts 1-6 to develop their model biodome. Subjects include energy flow and food chains, basic needs of plants and animals, and the importance of decomposers. Students consider why a solid understanding of one's environment and the interdependence of an ecosystem can inform the choices we make and the way we engineer our own communities. This activity can be conducted as either a very structured or open-ended design.
In this unit of study students learn about different types of bridges and how to design and build their own bridge. This unit integrates nine STEM attributes and was developed as part of the South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership's Teacher Leadership Team. Any instructional materials are included within this unit of study.
Bridges come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and lengths and are found all over the world. It is important that bridges are strong so they are safe to cross. Design and build a your own model bridge. Test your bridge for strength using a force sensor that measures how hard you pull on your bridge. By observing a graph of the force, determine the amount of force needed to make your bridge collapse.
Students design and construct devices to trap insects that are present in the area around the school. The objective is to ask the right design questions and conduct the right tests to determine if the traps work .
Student teams creatively construct mobiles using hangers and assorted materials and objects while exploring the principles of balance and center of mass. They build complex, free-hanging structures by balancing pieces with different lengths, weights, shapes and sizes.
Students construct bird nests and birdhouses. They research birds of their choosing and then design houses that meet the birds' specific needs. It works well to conduct this activity in conjunction with a grades 9-12 woodshop class by partnering the older students with the younger students (but it is not required to do this in order to conduct the activity).
Working as if they are engineers who work for (the hypothetical) Build-a-Toy Workshop company, students apply their imaginations and the engineering design process to design and build prototype toys with moving parts. They set up electric circuits using batteries, wire and motors. They create plans for project material expenses to meet a budget.
Students create their own anemometers instruments for measuring wind speed. They see how an anemometer measures wind speed by taking measurements at various school locations. They also learn about different types of anemometers, real-world applications, and how wind speed information helps engineers decide where to place wind turbines.
Students create models of objects of their choice, giving them skills and practice in techniques used by professionals. They make sketches as they build their objects. This activity facilitates a discussion on models and their usefulness.
Students build miniature model cities using sugar, bouillon and gelatin cubes. The cities are put through simulated earthquakes to see which cube structures withstand the shaking movements the best.
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.
Athletes often wear protective gear to keep themselves safe in contact sports. In this spirit, students follow the steps of engineering design process as they design, build and test protective padding for an egg drop. Many of the design considerations surrounding egg drops are similar to sports equipment design. Watching the transformation of energy from potential to kinetic, observing the impact and working under material constraints introduces students to "sports engineering" and gives them a chance to experience some of the challenges engineers face in designing equipment to protect athletes.