In this lesson, students expand their understanding of solid waste management to include the idea of 3RC (reduce, reuse, recycle and compost). They will look at the effects of packaging decisions (reducing) and learn about engineering advancements in packaging materials and solid waste management. Also, they will observe biodegradation in a model landfill (composting).
How does a one-way mirror work? Though most everyone knows that one-way mirrors exist, having students model how they work turns out to be a very effective way to develop their thinking about how visible light travels and how we see images. Initial student models reveal a wide variety of ideas and explanations that motivate the unit investigations that help students figure out what is going on and lead them to a deeper understanding of the world around them.
As the first unit in the OpenSciEd program, during the course of this unit, students also develop the foundation for classroom norms for collaboration that will be important across the whole program.
The goals of OpenSciEd are to ensure any science teacher, anywhere, can access and download freely available, high quality, locally adaptable full-course materials. REMOTE LEARNING GUIDE FOR THIS UNIT NOW AVAILABLE!
This unit on weather, climate, and water cycling is broken into four separate lesson sets. In the first two lesson sets, students explain small-scale storms. In the third and fourth lesson sets, students explain mesoscale weather systems and climate-level patterns of precipitation. Each of these two parts of the unit is grounded in a different anchoring phenomenon.
To pique students’ curiosity and anchor the learning for the unit in the visible and concrete, students start with an experience of observing and analyzing a bath bomb as it fizzes and eventually disappears in the water. Their observations and questions about what is going on drive learning that digs into a series of related phenomena as students iterate and improve their models depicting what happens during chemical reactions. By the end of the unit, students have a firm grasp on how to model simple molecules, know what to look for to determine if chemical reactions have occurred, and apply their knowledge to chemical reactions to show how mass is conserved when atoms are rearranged.
Students figure out that they can trace all food back to plants, including processed and synthetic food. They obtain and communicate information to explain how matter gets from living things that have died back into the system through processes done by decomposers. Students finally explain that the pieces of their food are constantly recycled between living and nonliving parts of a system.
Oh, no! I’ve dropped my phone! Most of us have experienced the panic of watching our phones slip out of our hands and fall to the floor. We’ve experienced the relief of picking up an undamaged phone and the frustration of the shattered screen. This common experience anchors learning in the Contact Forces unit as students explore a variety of phenomena to figure out, “Why do things sometimes get damaged when they hit each other?”
Student questions about the factors that result in a shattered cell phone screen lead them to investigate what is really happening to any object during a collision. They make their thinking visible with free-body diagrams, mathematical models, and system models to explain the effects of relative forces, mass, speed, and energy in collisions. Students then use what they have learned about collisions to engineer something that will protect a fragile object from damage in a collision. They investigate which materials to use, gather design input from stakeholders to refine the criteria and constraints, develop micro and macro models of how their solution is working, and optimize their solution based on data from investigations. Finally, students apply what they have learned from the investigation and design to a related design problem.
For students interested in studying biomechanical engineering, especially in the field of surgery, this lesson serves as an anatomy and physiology primer of the abdominopelvic cavity. Students are introduced to the abdominopelvic cavity—a region of the body that is the focus of laparoscopic surgery—as well as the benefits and drawbacks of laparoscopic surgery. Understanding the abdominopelvic environment and laparoscopic surgery is critical for biomechanical engineers who design laparoscopic surgical tools.
Students are provided with an introduction to above-ground storage tanks, specifically how and why they are used in the Houston Ship Channel. The introduction includes many photographic examples of petrochemical tank failures during major storms and describes the consequences in environmental pollution and costs to disrupted businesses and lives, as well as the lack of safety codes and provisions to better secure the tanks in coastal regions regularly visited by hurricanes. Students learn how the concepts of Archimedes' principle and Pascal's law act out in the form of the uplifting and buckling seen in the damaged and destroyed tanks, which sets the stage for the real-world engineering challenge presented in the associated activity to design new and/or improved storage tanks that can survive storm conditions.
Students are introduced to the differences between acids and bases and how to use indicators, such as pH paper and red cabbage juice, to distinguish between them.
In this lesson, students learn about work as defined by physical science and see that work is made easier through the use of simple machines. Already encountering simple machines everyday, students will be alerted to their widespread uses in everyday life. This lesson serves as the starting point for the Simple Machines Unit.
In this unit, students will become familiar with fables and trickster tales from different cultural traditions and will see how stories change when transferred orally between generations and cultures. They will learn how both types of folktales employ various animals in different ways to portray human strengths and weaknesses and to pass down wisdom from one generation to the next. Use the following lessons to introduce students to world folklore and to explore how folktales convey the perspectives of different world cultures.
One of the heroes of the Battle of Bunker Hill was Salem Poor, an African American. Black people fought on both sides during the American Revolution. Census data also reveal that there were slaves and free Blacks living in the North in 1790 and after. What do we know about African-American communities in the North in the years after the American Revolution?
In this lesson, students view archival photographs, combine their efforts to comb through a database of more than 2,000 archival newspaper accounts about race relations in the United States, and read newspaper articles written from different points of view about post-war riots in Chicago.
Late in 1917, the War Department created two all-black infantry divisions. The 93rd Infantry Division received unanimous praise for its performance in combat, fighting as part of France's 4th Army. In this lesson, students combine their research in a variety of sources, including firsthand accounts, to develop a hypothesis evaluating contradictory statements about the performance of the 92nd Infantry Division in World War I.
About one-third of Patriot soldiers at the Battle of Bunker Hill were African Americans. Census data also reveal that there were slaves and free Blacks living in the North in 1790 and later years. What were the experiences of African-American individuals in the North in the years between the American Revolution and the Civil War?
Students are introduced to air masses, with an emphasis on the differences between and characteristics of high- versus low-pressure air systems. Students also hear about weather forecasting instrumentation and how engineers work to improve these instruments for atmospheric measurements on Earth and in space.
Students learn what causes air pollution and how to investigate the different pollutants that exist, such as toxic gases and particulate matter. They investigate the technologies developed by engineers to reduce air pollution.
Students learn about the differences between types of water (surface and ground), as well as the differences between streams, rivers and lakes. Then, they learn about dissolved organic matter (DOM), and the role it plays in identifying drinking water sources. Finally, students are introduced to conventional drinking water treatment processes.
Aerogel, commonly called "frozen smoke," is a super-material with some amazing properties. In this lesson and its associated activity, students learn about this silicon-based solid with a sponge-like structure. Students also learn about density and how aerogel is 99.8% air by volume, making it the lightest solid known to humans! Further, students learn about basic heat transfer and how aerogel is a great thermal insulator, having 39 times more insulation than the best fiberglass insulation. Students also learn about the wide array of aerogel applications.