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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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Feature: A Team Approach to Special Needs

Ed Linz teaching Active PhysicsPhysics teacher Ed Linz learned the value of teamwork commanding a submarine, where crew members place their lives in each others’ hands. He now collaborates with a special education instructor in teaching a mixed class of high school students.

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Website: Gas Hydrates and Crystallography Resources

Gas Hydrates in Solid FormThis website on gas hydrates and crystallography from the University of California-Irvine provides resources, information, and class materials for teachers. It offers information, documents, presentations, photos, and data from past programs and projects, as well as lab activities, experiments, lesson plans, software, and an online tutorial.

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Activity: Catapult Marshmallow Launch

MashmallowsThis simple catapult activity for students in grades 4 – 8 teaches them how energy is transferred when a plastic spoon is pulled back, then released, rocketing its payload — a single marshmallow.

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Lesson: Build a Catapult

CatapultIn this lesson, students in grades 4-12 learn about the history of catapults and how they work. They assemble their own catapult model, making adjustments to improve its performance. Students gain engineering experience while learning principles of physics and working with the scientific processes of experimentation and trial and error.

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Activity: Making Slime

SlimeWould you believe that slime is a member of the Space Shuttle team? As an advanced viscoelastic material, slime is an amazingly lead-proof hydraulic fluid used in all critical positioning systems in space. Check out these slime recipes from the Inamori School of Engineering, Alfred University.

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Lesson: Egg Drop

EggsThe egg drop is a fun and dramatic way to get students involved in engineering design. After a discussion of safety features, students experiment packaging an egg to produce a design that will allow it to fall from a considerable height without cracking.

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Activity: Float a Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air BalloonIn this activity for grades 6-8, students learn about the dynamics of hot air balloons. Working in groups, they construct a working model, then use a hair dryer as the heat source to demonstrate the principle that hot air rises. Activity courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration.

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Lesson: Lift and Pull

Pulley BlockIn this activity for grades 6-8, students gain first-hand experience with the mechanical advantage of pulleys. Students are given the challenge of helping save a whale by moving it from an aquarium back to its natural habitat into the ocean. They set up different pulley systems, compare the theoretical and actual mechanical advantage of each and discuss their recommendations as a class.

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