Kids love exploring the world around them, and Earth Day offers a great way to introduce them to environmental science and engineering. The following sampler includes activities, lessons, and resources that promote green engineering and science learning.
Students 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.
In this lesson, pairs of students in grades 4 to 7 will learn about the engineering design process and electrical circuits by building a dance pad that sounds a buzzer or flashes a light when stepped on.
In this activity, teams of kids in grades 4-7 follow the engineering design process to invent a holder for six cans that’s animal-safe, sturdy, convenient, and easy to carry. They learn why discarded plastic rings can be a problem for wildlife and brainstorm animal-friendly ways to package six cans. They then build, test, and redesign their system and discuss what happened.
In this activity, students in grades 4 – 12 will do math like a computer. They will learn the basics of binary number systems by writing and then counting on their hands, and use their knowledge to decode numbers and letters.
Civil, chemical, and environmental engineers work together to develop new water treatment systems or to improve existing ones. In this activity, teams of students in grades 3-5 investigate different methods for removing pollutants from water, then design and build their own water filters from plastic bottles.
In this activity, teams of students in grades 3-12 explore the engineering design process by building model canoes from everyday materials and testing their design in a basin. The canoes must be able to float for three minutes and, for older students, support a load. Students then evaluate the effectiveness of their canoes and those of other teams, and present their findings to the class.
In this game, teams of students in grades 3 – 8 are introduced to the economics and environmental constraints of mining by extracting “ore” (chocolate chips) from purchased “property” (cookies). They will learn that mining requires investment before resources can be extracted, and that there are costs associated with permits, environmental monitoring, and reclamation.
In this activity, students in grades 5 – 7 learn how motion capture technology (mo-cap) enables computer animators to create realistic effects. They learn the importance of center of gravity in animation and how to use the concept in writing an action scene.