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STEM Education Resource Center (SERC)

Engineering and Technology

Catching the Wind: Designing Windmills
Grades 1 - 2

This unit guides students to learn about wind and the ways engineers design machines to capture wind energy. The science concepts of air resistance, air pressure, and air as wind are reinforced in the storybook and lessons.

Students explore different materials and shapes conducive to catching the wind by first designing sails for "sailboats". For the design activity, students design blades for their own windmills that can lift a small weight.


Downloads:

Parts List


Water, Water Everywhere: Designing Water Filters

Grades 3 - 5

As students learn about water in their science lessons, they also learn about the human need for clean and safe drinking water and the consequential need for environmental engineers to ensure water quality.

This unit addresses the increasingly important issue of water quality through lessons that teach students about water contamination and the ways that people ensure the quality of their drinking water. Students plan, construct, test, and improve their own water filters.

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Parts List


The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators

Grades 1 - 2

This unit helps students connect their knowledge of insects to a broader understanding of the natural system of pollination. Science concepts about insects, life cycles, pollination, and natural systems are introduced and reinforced, and different aspects of agricultural engineering are explored.

Through lessons and the unit's storybook--set in and around a young girl's butterfly garden in the Dominican Republic--students learn about the importance of balance within natural and agricultural systems, and consider what can happen when this balance goes awry. Students are introduced to agricultural engineering from a broad perspective, with brief overviews of Integrated Pest Management and pollination. For the design challenge students design and improve hand pollinators to work with different model flowers.

 

Downloads: Parts List


An Alarming Idea: Designing Alarm Circuits

Grades 3 - 5

This unit helps students to apply their knowledge of electricity, circuits, conductors, and insulators as they design and construct their own alarm circuits. The science concepts of electricity/energy transfer, conductors and insulators, and complete and incomplete circuits are reinforced and students are also introduced to schematic diagrams, a symbol "language" that electrical engineers use to plan and design circuits.

Through lessons and the unit's storybook, which takes place on a station (or ranch) in the Australian outback, students embark on an electricity scavenger hunt, practice drawing schematic diagrams from circuits, and finally design, create, and improve their own alarm circuit and switch to remind them when it is time to do an important chore.

 

Downloads: Parts List

Just Passing Through:
Designing Model Membranes

Grades 3 - 5

As students learn about organisms and their basic needs in their science lessons, they have the opportunity to apply that knowledge through a series of activities related to the diverse field of bioengineering.

After reading the storybook Juan Daniel's Fútbol Frog, students then learn to think like bioengineers, as they play a "concentration" card game and match technologies with their natural inspirations. Students are then challenged to be bioengineers and design a model membrane that can deliver water to an imaginary pet frog in a controlled manner, helping the frog to meet one of its basic needs.

Downloads: Parts List

Sticky Situation: Designing Walls

Grades 1 - 2

Everywhere around us, earth materials like pebbles, soil, sand, and silt are used in human creations. What properties make an earth material useful? Different materials have different properties, making them appropriate for different uses. Students learn how materials were combined to create the Great Wall of China and explore which earth materials make the strongest, sturdiest wall and mortar. For the design challenge, students construct their own "mini wall of China."


Downloads: Parts List

Sounds Like Fun: Seeing Animal Sounds

Grades 3 - 5

As students learn about organisms and their basic needs in their science lessons, they have the opportunity to apply that knowledge through a series of activities related to the diverse field of bioengineering.

After reading the storybook Juan Daniel's Fútbol Frog, students then learn to think like bioengineers, as they play a "concentration" card game and match technologies with their natural inspirations. Students are then challenged to be bioengineers and design a model membrane that can deliver water to an imaginary pet frog in a controlled manner, helping the frog to meet one of its basic needs.

Downloads: Parts List

LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education Base Set

 

No matter how you wish to work with MINDSTORMS Education, this is where you start. The set enables groups of 2-3 students to build and program real-life robotic solutions. Includes the programmable NXT Brick, 3 interactive servo motors, a range of sensors, including ultrasonic and sound, a rechargeable battery, connecting cables and enough LEGO® bricks to build one model at a time. The set includes building instructions.

Key Learning Values:

  • Investigating energy, forces and speed
  • Programming and controlling input and output devices, using wireless communication
  • Developing solutions, selecting, building, testing and evaluating
  • Measuring, using coordinate systems, conversion and applied math
  • Creativity, problem-solving and team-working

FOSS Electronics

Grades 6 - 8

The electric force provides structure to everyday objects, energy for most of our activities, and the flexibility to create complex circuitry to contour, manage and exploit electrons to make them do our bidding. In this course, students work with electronic components and meters to build simple and complex circuits, measure and monitor electric properties, and discover how different components affect circuits. They make and read schematics, and construct solid-state devices. Finally, they construct meaningful explanations for the powerful interactions taking place in their systems.


Investigations:

  1. In Circuits students discover how to create complete circuits and how to identify series, parallel, and short circuits.
  2. In Resistors 1 Students discover how resistors influence the performance of lamps in electrical circuits, and develop a model that explains what resistance is and how it might affect the flow of current in a circuit.
  3. In Voltage students explore, measure, and manipulate one of the two main attributes of electricity, voltage, and discover how voltage can be influenced by components in a circuit
  4. In Electronic Dissection students explore electronic consumer products to discover the kinds and numbers of electronic components used in their design, and consider the impact of technology on American life.
  5. In Resistors 2 students discover the rules for predicting the total resistance imposed by multiple resistors placed in series and/or parallel.
  6. In Diodes students discover the characteristics of diodes and compare their behavior in circuits to the behavior of other components with which they are familiar.
  7. In Capacitors students discover the characteristics of capacitors, compare them to components with which they are familiar, and use them in circuits to perform new functions.
  8. Current leads students to understand the concept of electric current, and to use their understanding to solve circuit problems.
  9. In Transistors students discover the characteristics of transistors,compare them to components with which they are familiar, and use them in circuits to perform new functions.
Downloads: Module Summary
Parts List

STC Program: Magnets and Motors Unit Kit

Using a series of hands-on experiments, students investigate the properties of magnets and the magnetic properties of electric currents. Students experience the historical development of our understanding of magnets.

The Two-Use Kit comes with all of the great materials you'd expect from the STC PROGRAM™, along with a box containing the materials for a second non-concurrent use. All you need to do is set the box aside until you are ready for it.


Student activities include

  • Making a compass.
  • Building electromagnets and conducting experiments to test their strength.
  • Constructing and operating 2 types of rudimentary electric motors to illustrate one of the major applications of electromagnetism.
  • Disassembling, experimenting with, and rebuilding a commercial electric motor to see how its components correspond with those of the motors students constructed.
  • Producing electricity with an electric generator to light a bulb and turn a motor.

 

Department of Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences
Smith Hall, Room 445 (map)
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Phone: 410-704-3020
Fax: 410-704-3511
E-mail: pags@towson.edu


 



 

 

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