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How the Rubber Meets the Road

tire in rainIn this hands-on activity, teams of students in grades 3 to 12 learn how engineers design tire treads to increase safety and reliability, then follow the design process to construct, test, and evaluate treads sculpted from clay that will be safe when driving in heavy rain.

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Wizardly Wands

sparklersIn this activity, high school juniors and seniors learn such core chemistry concepts as reaction rates and thermodynamics by making and demonstrating their own Harry Potter-style “magic wands” (sparklers). The lab, which also can serve as a fun Advanced Placement course review, concludes with a class duel between wands of two different chemical compositions.

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Squishy Circuits

squishy circuitIn this fun activity developed by St. Thomas University engineering associate professor AnnMarie Thomas, students of all ages learn the basic principles of electricity by fashioning circuits from play dough, batteries, and LEDs. No soldering necessary!

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Wind Power for Your Home

wind turbineIn this activity, students in grades 9-11 learn how engineers harness the energy of the wind by following the engineering design process to create and test two prototype wind turbines to see which works best. They also learn about where to place a wind turbine for maximum effectiveness, and to weigh the advantages and disadvantages compared with other energy sources.

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Seeing the World Through a Different Lens

dolls with disabilities Students in grades 6 to 8 gain an understanding of physical limitations and the biomedical engineering design process by performing a variety of tasks without using their thumbs, eyes, or legs, then working in teams to create or improve and adaptive device.

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Code Calling

web color chart Computer science has the highest pay for new college graduates, twice the national average job growth of more than double the national average, and applications that stretch from rock music to medicine. Yet 9 in 10 schools don’t teach programming. Code.org hopes to change that with a host of free resources to get kids as young as four creating websites and apps.

The answer is computer programming, and advocates from Microsoft founder Bill Gates to former president Bill Clinton are pushing to include it in the K-12 curriculum.

Far from being complicated algorithms only a geek could master, code writing can be learned by just about anyone — even four-year-olds. Code.org has compiled a host of websites, courses, and other free resources to help students hone programming skills from building websites to creating phone apps. There also are tips for using code writing and programming projects and activities in math or science classes to cover content standards.

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Build a Big Wheel

nysc1In this activity, teams of students in grades K-12 learn about the history and engineering behind Ferris wheels by constructing a working model using pasta, glue, and teabags.

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Activity: Robot Basketball

basketball robotIn this activity, students in grades 5 to 12 learn about accuracy, precision, and simple machines by working in teams to design and build a robotic basketball “player” that can nail a free-throw shot three times in a row.

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Lesson: Shake It Up with Seismographs

seismographStudents in grades 3 – 12 explore how the development of seismographs has helped save lives worldwide by working in teams to design their own seismograph from everyday items, test its ability to record a simulated classroom earthquake, evaluate their results, and report to the class.

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