Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.
STEM combines science, technology, engineering, and math to enhance a student's ability to think like a scientist when approaching a problem. STEM students use the Engineering Design Process to define a problem, brainstorm solutions, research and design prototypes, test the prototype, and make improvements on their design in search of the best possible results. The following capstone projects may be used by high school students at the conclusion of their STEM studies.
Grade level: 9-12
Time: 2-5 days
- What is the most energy efficient material for building blades for a wind turbine?
- turbine building kits (hub, dowels, DC motor, stand)
- balsa wood
- plastic disposable cups
- masking tape
- After conducting internet research about the design and materials used to create blades on wind turbines, students will create their own prototype to test blade materials.
- The first step is to build the base of a wind turbine (no blades yet). The angle and location of blades must remain consistent for all trials, therefore the basic design of the turbine will not change.
- The next step is to create a template for the blades. Regardless of the materials used to create the blades, each blade will be the same size and shape.
- Then, students will trace and cut out blades of various materials, such as balsa wood, cardboard, cardstock, plastic cups, …
- The first set of blades will be attached to the wind turbine for testing. During each trial, the fan and the windmill must remain in fixed positions. With the fan on the low position, the blades will turn.
- Students will use the multimeter to check the voltage of the turbine and record data. Students will complete 3 trials for each set of blades.
- Students will adjust their design as needed and retest. Possible adjustments may include the size or position of the blades.
- Results will be translated into graphs from which a written conclusion will be drawn.
Grade level: 9-12
Time: 2-3 days
- What is the most effective system for filtering polluted water?
- activated charcoal
- aquarium pump
- clean 2-liter bottles
- clean gallon jugs
- coffee filters
- cotton balls
- plastic cups
- pollutants (such as salt, pepper, baking soda, shredded paper, dirt)
- rubber bands
- water testing kits
- Use the internet to research problems and solutions associated with water pollution.
- Prepare gallon jugs with polluted water. Allow the polluted water to sit in a sunny area for a few days.
- Take a picture of the polluted water sample and caption it with observations about how the water looks and smells.
- Stir the polluted water and divide it into plastic cups for testing. Place the aquarium pump in one of the polluted water samples overnight to aerate it.
- Cut 2-liter bottles in half and dispose of the bottom half of the bottles. The bottles will be placed upside down with one bottle nestled on top of the other. The bottle on the bottom will need a lid and will be used for collecting filtered water. The other bottle will contain a filter.
- Students will filter the water by pouring the polluted samples through each of the following:
- cheesecloth filter
- cheesecloth and cotton balls
- cheesecloth and coffee filter
- cheesecloth and coffee filter filled with soil
- cheesecloth and coffee filter filled with sand
- cheesecloth and coffee filter filled with gravel
- cheesecloth and coffee filter filled with activated charcoal
- Unscrew the lid to pour the filtered water into labeled plastic cups.
- Take pictures and caption each sample with observations about the sight and smell.
- Use a water testing kit to measure the polluted sample and each of the treated samples.
- Create a rubric to rate the effectiveness of each aeration and filtration method.
- Graphically display results and draw conclusions about water treatment to present.
Grade level: 9-12
Time: 5-10 days
- Which materials are most effective at blocking sound?
- box (cardboard or built from wood scraps)
- audio speaker
- sound level meter (or app)
- moving blankets
- vinyl rubber
- Place a speaker inside the box.
- Put a sound level meter on top of the box.
- Play an 80-decibel sound into the speaker. Record the sound level on the sound meter.
- Repeat the process alternately lining the sides of the box with soundproofing materials, such as polystyrene, vinyl rubber, and moving blankets. Record the data.
- Display the data graphically and write a concluding sentence about findings and applications.
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