Engineering Explorations 7-13: Racing Against the Sun

Engineering Explorations 7-13: Racing Against the Sun

Today, our engineers explored how their knowledge could be applied to the real world, by building solar cars! In this first part of a two part lesson, the students tested how different types of light effected their motors. Then, they got the wheel rolling by creating the body of their solar cars. Tomorrow they’ll complete their cars and put them to the test!

Ask your student: What is a solar cell? (It’s the “battery” of the car; it converts light into energy)

Fun fact:  The first solar cars were built in the 1950’s.

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Chicago Engineering Explorations 6-30: Rube Goldberg Competition

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Chicago Engineering Explorations 6-30: Rube Goldberg Competition

Today students finished their Rube Goldberg machines, and took turns demonstrating them to the rest of the class! Using the Rube Rubric, each team was evaluated for the competition, and had the opportunity to observe all the different machines that were made.

Ask your student: How well did your Rube Goldberg machine perform?

Chicago STEMvironment 6/30: Air Pollution

Chicago STEMvironment 6/30: Air Pollution

Students today worked as scientists working for the environmental protection agency! As agents of the EPA, students collected their particle collectors, and observed the materials that were collected. By joining the data of the entire class, we were able to map the areas of greatest air pollution, and evaluate just where the most pollution occurred.

 Ask your student: What gas do we need to breathe to survive? (Oxygen) What is the best way to deal with air pollution? (Prevention) What is done to clean air we breathe indoors? (Air filtration)

Chicago STEMvironment 6/29: Pond Water!

Chicago STEMvironment 6/29: Pond Water!

Today, in STEMvironment, the students analyzed samples of water from a local pond to look for insect nymphs which can be seen with the naked eye. Students learned the importance of a healthy ecosystem and that in aquatic ecosystems, the more diverse the organisms in a body of water, the more vibrant and healthy it is. Using this knowledge, students could analyze the health of the ecosystem from which the water sample was gathered.

Ask your student: What is a macroinvertebrate? (A small animal without a backbone that can be seen without a stereoscope or microscope)

Engineering Explorations 6-29: Racing Against the Sun

Engineering Explorations 6-29: Racing Against the Sun

Today, our engineers explored how their knowledge could be applied to the real world, by building solar cars! In this first part of a two part lesson, the students tested how different types of light effected their motors. Then, they got the wheel rolling by creating the body of their solar cars. Tomorrow they’ll complete their cars and put them to the test!

Ask your student: What is a solar cell? (It’s the “battery” of the car; it converts light into energy)

Fun fact:  The first solar cars were built in the 1950’s.

Chicago Engineering Explorations 6/28: A Series of Circuitous Events

Chicago Engineering Explorations 6/28: A Series of Circuitous Events

In this lesson, our engineers applied the knowledge they learned earlier in the week in a race to assemble two different types of circuits, parallel and series. Their creativity really lit up the room as they explored the difference between these two circuit types by powering LED lights in each of these styles.

Ask your student: What is the main difference between parallel and series circuits? (Only one path in a series circuit; parallel there are multiple paths) Which circuit style causes voltage drop? (series)

Fun Fact: Refrigerators, freezers, and water heaters use series circuits while electrical outlets in a room, house, or building use parallel circuits.

Chicago STEMvironment 6-28: Solar Power!

Chicago STEMvironment 6-28: Solar Power!

In class today, students learned how to apply the principles of solar energy, and how to run good tests of their solar device. Students created a solar oven that harnessed the power of the sun’s light to heat and cook marshmallows! By collecting data of their ovens’ temperature and then graphing it, students were able to compare their ovens, and discover some of the principles behind solar heating.

 Ask your student: What happened to the temperature inside the oven? (It increased) What part of the oven kept the heat in? (The black paper) What part reflected the heat inside of the oven? (The foil, which acted as a mirror)

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Chicago STEMvironment 6-27: Eco House

Chicago STEMvironment 6-27: Eco House

Continuing with our theme to create energy efficient homes, the students commenced the building phase of their project, taking into account what they had planned the day before and implementing it. They created real estates, adding windows and functioning doors to their homes. Later, the students were faced with the challenge, “What materials will most efficiently insulate your home?” Brainstorming, they used their knowledge of insulators and conductors to create a hypothesis and experiment to test for the following day.

Ask you student: What is the difference between an insulator and conductor? (Conductors allow energy/heat to pass through them while insulators do not) What materials do you predict will best insolate your home? (Opinion, answers will vary)

Fun Fact: “Well-planned landscaping isn’t just for aesthetics — properly placed trees around the house can save between $100 and $250 annually”

https://energy.gov/articles/top-11-things-you-didnt-know-about-saving-energy-home-summer-edition

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Chicago Engineering Explorations 6/27: Boat Building

Chicago Engineering Explorations 6/27: Boat Building

This week, our engineers are building boats using simple items. Today they used aluminum foil to build their boats to test how much weight they could hold. They learned principles about load, and about the Archimedes Principle!

Ask your students: How did the Archimedes Principle relate to your activity today? Why do you think this Principle is important to know? (Answers will vary)

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Chicago STEMvironment 6/26: “Renew-a-Bean”

Chicago STEMvironment 6/26: “Renew-a-Bean”

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” This week our environmental scientists are exploring the concepts of renewable and nonrenewable energy with help from Dr. Suess’ The Lorax. Today students discovered how quickly nonrenewable energy is used up by playing “Renew-A-Bean.”

Ask your student: What is an example of a renewable resource? What is an example of nonrenewable resource? (Renewabe resource: hydropower, solar power, wind power; Nonrenewable resource: coal, minerals, fossil fuels)