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Paper Roller Coasters

paper roller coaster loop de loopTeams of high school students learn about energy and energy transformation, then use their knowledge to design and build a paper model of the most fun and exciting roller coaster they can imagine.

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Building Roller Coasters

marble roller coaster in classroomStudents in grades 7 to 9 build model roller coasters using pipe insulation and marbles, then analyze them using physics principles, including conversions between kinetic and potential energy and frictional effects. A class competition using various marbles to represent different passenger loads determines the most innovative and successful designs.

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Build a Bike Helmet

bike helmetStudents in grades 9 and 10 are introduced to the biomechanical characteristics of helmets and challenged to incorporate them into helmet designs. They come to understand the role of engineering associated with safety products – in this case protecting the brain and neck of a bicyclist in the event of a crash, with the design dependent on the user’s needs and specifications.

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Sense It!

SENSE IT water quality samplingSensors are in everything from smart phones to corn fields. They also can be a powerful and engaging tool to teach STEM. SENSE IT, a free, research-based curriculum, involves students in hands-on learning about their local environment by constructing, deploying, and interpreting data from a network of water-quality sensors.

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Ahoy! Plastic in the Ocean

plastic on Hawaii beach wildlife preserve USFWSStudents learn about the Great Pacific garbage patch, research the extent and impact of plastics pollution on oceans, and present that information as a short, eye-catching newsletter suitable to hand out to fast-food restaurant customers. 

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Straw Bridges

straw bridgeWorking in pairs, students in grades 6 to 8 follow the engineering design process to create the strongest truss bridge using a fixed amount of plastic drinking straws and tape. Let the competition begin!

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Wind Chimes

wind chimesHigh school students design and build wind chimes using their knowledge of physics and sound waves, and under such constraints as weight, cost, and the number of musical notes their chimes must generate. They make mathematical computations to determine the pipe lengths. Links to similar activities for younger students included in activity scaling section.

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Sensory Toys Make Sense!

sensory integration baby home-intervention in VietnamStudents in grades 6 to 9 learn about biomedical engineering and the human sensory system, then follow the engineering design process to create sensory-integration toys for youngsters with developmental disabilities.

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Choose Your Best Way

map of Danville, VaIn this lesson on using mathematical modeling to solve real-world problems, middle and high school students work in teams to build a graph/model of their city map, then try to solve a real problem based on the model. They evaluate their solutions and present their reflections to the class.

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