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Report: Improving STEM Education

Kids doing STEM activityWant to improve the quality of STEM education? AdvancED devotes its entire Spring 2015 issue to the subject. Articles range from narrowing the STEM achievement gap to 3-D virtual learning to explicitly teaching engineering.

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Contest: Shell Eco-marathon

shell carsShell Eco-marathon is a global challenge that motivates students to drive farther than their peers on one gallon of fuel. Student teams participate in one or both of the Prototype and UrbanConcept classes. The Prototype class invites student teams to enter futuristic streamlined vehicles focused on maximizing fuel efficiency through innovative design elements, such as drag reduction.

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Edible Green Screen

green screenHave you ever thought about those bare, exterior walls of your home or school? If so, you would be current with one of the hottest trends in civil and environmental engineering: Redesigning buildings to take full advantage of solar energy, like this “edible green screen” created by students at the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments.

The idea behind green walls, or vertical gardens, can be traced back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. In Babylon, plants were said to have been cultivated at a height above ground level. In modern times, the idea of similar gardens has become a way to bring more greenery to cityscapes while also making urban areas more environmentally friendly.

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Video Tour: The Ultimate ‘Green’ Building

hot air cool airHere’s a quick, fun video guide to environmental engineering produced by Channel One News. It explores the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and the museum’s signature fully planted roof. It also explains the engineering behind the temperature control system in the four-story interior rain forest and includes an interview with an environmental engineer and advice on how to prepare for a career like his.

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Student Invents Solar Tree

Aiden DwyerOn a hike through the Catskill Mountains in New York, Aidan Dwyer, a seventh-grader, noticed that the branches of oak trees seemed to follow a pattern. Inspired, he created a tree-like arrangement of small solar panels capable of generating 20-50% more energy than a traditional flat designs.

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EPA Teacher Resources

EPA LogoThe Environmental Protection Agency has a collection of materials that can be used to teach environmental topics like conservation, human health, stewardship, waste & recycling, and water. The EPA also offers publications, awards and grants, workshops, conferences, student scholarships, community service projects, and a club for kids.

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Lesson: Solar Water Heater

Water Heater SetupStudent teams in grades 9-11 gain a better understanding of heat transfer and engineering by designing and building solar water-heating devices that mimic those used in residences. Once the model devices are constructed, students perform efficiency calculations and compare designs.

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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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N.C. Students Rev Their Green Engines

Go Green Go-KartA group of North Carolina students is literally on the fast track to going green. On May 19, design teams from Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools raced their biofuel-powered vehicles in the annual Go Green Go-Kart Competition hosted by the school system’s career center. The contest drew a whopping 24 teams, up from 11 teams last year.

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