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Sun Powered Cars

Solar Powered Cars are a fun engineering design challenge that provide plenty of room for academic conversations. The reality of solar panels is they aren’t perfect by any means. They require a level of precision in their positioning to the sun that producing a successful device is a challenge! Therein lies the opportunity for exploration, inquiry and iteration as both students and teachers alike can grow academically with the creation of a solar-powered car.

This resource from Discovery Place Science shows you two prototypes designed to serve as an exploration of what the introduction of a 3D printer and some simple design software can produce as well as an how this project can be completed using more common classroom materials such as popsicle sticks and hot glue

Designing and Testing Turbines

Creating turbines can be a fun way to explore the relationship of naturally occurring energy sources like wind. Using everyday materials students can create a variety of turbines that can be tested with LED’s and voltmeters to determine their effectiveness and start meaningful conversations around design improvements, energy conservation and a sustainable energy plan for the United States.

This resource from Discovery Place Science shows you how to build and test turbines with materials for the classroom, including 3-D plans for gear systems for your turbines.

Energy Tree Diagram: How It Works

Energy Tree Diagram: What do wind-up toys, springs, and pop-ups have in common?  Energy! In this video, we’ll take a closer look at these toys to examine what types of energy transfers happen that cause these everyday object to spin, move, and pop.  This is a great way to learn about types of energy in a fun and engaging approach by mapping out the kinds of energy present through a process of drawing out the types of energy in an energy tree diagram.   

  • Presented by: Rob Payo, Denver Museum of Nature & Science and Ann Hernandez,  Association of Science Technology Centers

Supply list:

  • Wind up toys
  • Pop ups
  • Other simple toys, machines
  • Poster paper
  • Markers

Novel Engineering: How It Works

Novel Engineering:  Developed by Tufts University, Novel Engineering is an excellent way to integrate literacy and STEM in your teaching.  In this video, we’ll take you through the steps of this approach using a book on energy as an example. By looking at the characters in a story, students will identify problems these characters are faced with and then brainstorm possible solutions to help them.  Once they’ve chosen one idea to develop, the students can then design a solution using simple materials in the classroom and share and refine their ideas with their classmates—just like an engineer solving with problems with energy.

  • Presented by Rob Payo, Denver Museum of Nature & Science and Ann Hernandez,  Association of Science Technology Centers.

Supply list:

  • Book
  • Scratch/sketch paper
  • Scrap materials (foam, foil, paper, cardboard, fabric, etc)
  • Art supplies (glue, yarn, scissors, tape, markers)

Activity: Roll on Through

Design, build, and test a ramp using cardboard and other household materials. Create a pathway for round objects to roll down the cardboard ramp. Incorporate the floor, stairs, countertops, or furniture into the ramp design. This activity helps children develop flexible thinking skills.

This activity and more can be found online at Creativity Catapult, from the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, CA.,  is a research-backed, expert-curated collection of activities that promote creativity skills in children ages 2-14. Creativity Catapult is an online collection of activities to promote children’s creativity development. Curated by experts with contributions from esteemed education institutions from around the globe, Creativity Catapult is intended for practitioners charged with raising a generation of future innovators – parents, teachers and informal educators – as well as kids themselves.

 

Activity: Electric Scribbles

Children explore the intersection of science and art by inventing a machine that can draw as it moves. This activity helps children develop divergent thinking skills.

This activity and more can be found online at Creativity Catapult, from the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, CA.,  is a research-backed, expert-curated collection of activities that promote creativity skills in children ages 2-14. Creativity Catapult is an online collection of activities to promote children’s creativity development. Curated by experts with contributions from esteemed education institutions from around the globe, Creativity Catapult is intended for practitioners charged with raising a generation of future innovators – parents, teachers and informal educators – as well as kids themselves.

 

Activity: Zip Lines

Children work together to transform everyday materials into creations that can carry weight safely across a zip line.

This activity and more can be found online at Creativity Catapult, from the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, CA.,  is a research-backed, expert-curated collection of activities that promote creativity skills in children ages 2-14. Creativity Catapult is an online collection of activities to promote children’s creativity development. Curated by experts with contributions from esteemed education institutions from around the globe, Creativity Catapult is intended for practitioners charged with raising a generation of future innovators – parents, teachers and informal educators – as well as kids themselves.

Cotton Catapult

Design and construct a catapult that launches cotton balls as far as possible! This maker activity helps children build creative thinking skills, such as divergent (brainstorming) and convergent (decision-making) skills.

This activity and more can be found online at Creativity Catapult, from the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, CA.,  a research-backed, expert-curated collection of activities that promote creativity skills in children ages 2-14. Creativity Catapult is an online collection of activities to promote children’s creativity development. Curated by experts with contributions from esteemed education institutions from around the globe, Creativity Catapult is intended for practitioners charged with raising a generation of future innovators – parents, teachers and informal educators – as well as kids themselves.

CLEAN Collection: Demonstrations

The CLEAN Collection is a hand-picked and rigorously reviewed collection of educational resources aligned with the Climate Literacy and the Energy Literacy frameworks, and the Next Generation Science Standards.

This short list of demonstrations include resources related to thermal expansion and sea level rise, fermentation, biofuels, and solar ovens.

Stretch Your Potential

From this activity from the How to Smile Collection, learners create a toy that demonstrates the First Law of Thermodynamics or the Law of Conservation of Energy. By stretching the rubber band on the toy differently, learners explore the effects of potential energy on kinetic energy. The activity webpage from the Children’s Museum of Houston includes a fun how-to video for learners and educators.