In this lesson, students learn about work as defined by physical science and see that work is made easier through the use of simple machines. Already encountering simple machines everyday, students will be alerted to their widespread uses in everyday life. This lesson serves as the starting point for the Simple Machines Unit.
In this lesson, students are introduced to audio engineers. They discover in what type of an environment audio engineers work and exactly what they do on a day-to-day basis. Students come to realize that audio engineers help produce their favorite music and movies.
Hydropower generation is introduced to students as a common purpose and benefit of constructing dams. Through an introduction to kinetic and potential energy, students come to understand how a dam creates electricity. They also learn the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy.
While the creation of a dam provides many benefits, it can have negative impacts on local ecosystems. Students learn about the major environmental impacts of dams and the engineering solutions used to address them.
In this two-part activity, students design and build Rube Goldberg machines. This open-ended challenge employs the engineering design process and may have a pre-determined purpose, such as rolling a marble into a cup from a distance, or let students decide the purposes.
Species extinction is happening at an alarming rate according to scientists. In this lesson, students are asked to consider why extinction is a problem that we should concern us. They are taught that destruction of habitat is the main reason many species are threatened. The lesson explores ways that engineers can help save endangered species.
Students model and design the sound environment for a room. They analyze the sound performance of different materials that represent wallpaper, thick curtains, and sound-absorbing panels. Then, referring to the results of their analysis, they design another room based on certain specifications, and test their designs.
In this activity, students gain first-hand experience with the mechanical advantage of pulleys. Students are given the challenge of helping save a whale by moving it from an aquarium back to its natural habitat into the ocean. They set up different pulley systems, compare the theoretical and actual mechanical advantage of each and discuss their recommendations as a class.
In this activity, students reinforce their understanding of compound machines by building a catapult. This compound machine consists of a lever and a wheel-and-axel. Catapults have been designed by engineers for a variety of purposes from lifting boulders into the air for warfare to human beings for entertainment; the projectiles in this activity are grapes for a magic act. Given the building materials, students design and build their catapult to launch a grape a certain distance.
This activity illustrates the interrelationship between science and engineering in the context of extinction prevention. There are two parts to the activity. The first part challenges students to think like scientists as they generate reports on endangered species and give presentations worthy of a news channel or radio broadcast. The second part puts students in the shoes of engineers, designing ways to help the endangered species.
Students expand upon their understanding of simple machines with an introduction to compound machines. A compound machine a combination of two or more simple machines can affect work more than its individual components. Engineers who design compound machines aim to benefit society by lessening the amount of work that people exert for even common household tasks. This lesson encourages students to critically think about machine inventions and their role in our lives.
Simple and compound machines are designed to make work easier. When we encounter a machine that does not fit this understanding, the so-called machine seems absurd. In this lesson, the cartoons of Rube Goldberg are introduced and engage the students in critical thinking about the way his inventions make a simple task even harder to complete. As the final lesson in the simple machines unit, the study of Rube Goldberg machines can help students evaluate the importance and usefulness of the many machines around them.
In this activity, students are challenged to design a contraption using simple machines to move a circus elephant into a rail car. After students consider their audience and constraints, they work in groups to brainstorm ideas and select one concept to communicate to the class.
Students are introduced to the sound environment as an important aspect of a room or building. Several examples of acoustical engineering design for varied environments are presented. Students learn the connections between the science of sound waves and engineering design for sound environments.
In this lesson, students are introduced to communications engineers as people who enable long-range communication. In the lesson demonstration, students discuss the tendency of sound to diminish with distance and model this phenomenon using a slinky. Finally, Alexander Graham Bell is introduced as the inventor of the telephone and a pioneer in communications engineering.
Students investigate how sound travels through string and air. First, they analyze the sound waves with a paper cup attached to a string. Then, they combine the string and cup with a partner to model a string telephone. Finally, they are given a design challenge to redesign the string telephone for distance. They think about their model as it compares a modern telephone and the impact the invention of the telephone has had on society.
Through a series of activities, students discover that the concept of mechanical advantage describes reality fairly well. They act as engineers creating a design for a ramp at a construction site by measuring four different inclined planes and calculating the ideal mechanical advantage versus the actual mechanical advantage of each. Then, they use their analysis to make recommendations for the construction site.
Students are introduced to the concept of a dam and its potential benefits, which include water supply, electricity generation, flood control, recreation and irrigation. This lesson begins an ongoing classroom scenario in which student engineering teams working for the Splash Engineering firm design dams for a fictitious client, Thirsty County.