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Young Minds Design Contest

Young Mind Awards logoThe Young Mind Awards are a global competition for middle and high school students to inspire interest in becoming innovators and engineers. Teams or individuals design and build a product to solve a problem or improve a process, then demonstrate how it works in a three-minute video presentation. Entries are due May 31, 2015.

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Blue LED Beams Nobel Fame

Blue LED sculpture Makoto TajikiLight-emitting diodes illuminate everything from traffic signals to shimmering sculptures like this one by Makoto Tojiki. But the researchers whose early 1990s breakthrough – a blue-light LED – made today’s energy-saving white lamps possible toiled mostly in the shadows… until they won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2014.

No longer. In September, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in physics to Isamu Akasaki of Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan, Hiroshi Amano of Nagoya University, and Shuji Nakamura, a professor of materials and co-director of the Solid State Lighting and Energy Electronics Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Lesson: Dance Pad Mania

dance pad revolutionIn 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.

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Feature: Nuclear Energizes Teachers

Texas A&M workshopDespite the anxiety triggered by last spring’s nuclear disaster in Japan, nuclear power is still a key part of this country’s energy mix. Industry and universities are enlisting help from teachers in preparing the next generation of nuclear engineers and technicians.

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Feature: Kart Me Away

evGrandPrix Line UpA Purdue University engineering professor has found that building and racing go-karts is a great way not only to interest his own students in science and engineering, but at-risk middle-school kids as well.

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Lesson: Hydrogen — Electrolysis of Water

WaterThis lesson engages students in grades 6-8 in an electrolysis activity separating hydrogen and oxygen to help them understand how hydrogen is created to be used as an energy source.

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Activity: Electricity in a Brown Bag

In this single-session activity, students in grades 1-5 participate in a hands-on science investigation of electricity. They learn through discovery about how electricity works. Students’ natural curiosity and sense of exploration enable them to explore and learn on their own with minimal input from the teacher.

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2 DOE Kid-friendly Energy Sites


Energy Kids is an excellent K-12 teaching resource with background information, historic profiles, games, activities, and lesson plans. Kids Saving Energy focuses on students grades K-3 and saving energy in the home.

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Lab TV – Engineering & Science Research

Brief, engaging webisodes feature the work of Department of Defense engineers and scientists, ranging from dolphin training to austronauts’ high tech gloves to computer design of naval vessels. The web videos encourage student interest in STEM subjects and technical careers at a Defense laboratory.

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