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2nd NGSS STEM Education Conference: Sessions Descriptions

2nd NGSS STEM Education Conference: Sessions Descriptions


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Session 1

Arms & Arteries: Adventures in Biomechanical Engineering

Looking for ways to integrate engineering into your life science and biology classes? Try biomechanical engineering! Join us as we engineer ways to unclog arteries and construct prosthetic arms while incorporating key scientific principles and NGSS Science & Engineering Practices along the way.

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Session 2

Environmental Engineering: Life in the Bay Water

Together we’ll design and build tools for exploring bay water. We’ll also identify constituents in the water that affect living and mechanical systems—specifically, bay plankton populations and the Exploratorium’s Bay Water Heating and Cooling System. The focus will be on plankton, how they affect the color of water, and the parameters that affect their concentration and distribution.

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Session 3

Seismic Engineering

Feeling a little shaky on how to teach engineering in your earth science unit? In this session, we’ll cover a brief introduction to earthquakes and seismic waves, build an earthquake-resistant structure, and take a look at the seismic engineering that went into the Exploratorium's new building. We'll use simple, easily obtainable materials to fulfill science and engineering practices related to our occasionally unpredictable earth.

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Session 4

Build a Battery of Batteries

Come explore the physics and chemistry of simple batteries! We’ll construct a variety of electric cells with classroom-safe materials, and then investigate and identify the strengths and weaknesses of each type of cell. By engineering these cells to optimize voltage or current, you’ll be able to power a range of devices from LEDs to small electric motors.

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Session 5

Build a Better Motor

We’ll start by taking apart a spring-powered motor to see how it stores and releases energy, and then we’ll take apart a small electric motor to see how the magnets, wire coils, and electrical connections are arranged. For the big finish, you’ll build your own simple DC electric motor and then measure its power consumption.

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Session 6

Wire It Up! The Electric Building Project

Using a shoebox, discarded holiday lights, and some simple tools, you and your students can create and wire a model building complete with switches. The design process mirrors real-life engineering and construction as you test and revise your circuits to meet specific requirements for house circuitry, and then create your own projects such as model apartments, castles, sports complexes, and aquariums. You’ll learn how to prepare for and implement this project in your classroom, see examples of different projects, and leave with some holiday lights so you can continue to experiment at home.

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Session 7

From Magnets and Coils to Woofers and Tweeters

Enrich your knowledge of sound, electricity, and magnetism by designing and building speakers. Engineering these small, inexpensive loudspeakers is a great way to experience science and engineering content in a real-world application.

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Session 8

Engineering Animal Ecosystems for Your Classroom

Talking about what happens in an ecosystem is one thing, but designing and constructing a sustainable ecosystem is another—it takes student understanding of the variables of biological systems and iterative design to another level entirely. Join us as we build simple ecosystems (work boxes and brine shrimp hatcheries) and then move onto the more complex task of constructing a sealed, self-sustaining aquarium. Associated activities that cross disciplines from biology to physics will help you incorporate these engineering feats into your curriculum. Your bonus gift? Brine shrimp cysts!

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