2015 Physical Science Curriculum

Safe Recycling Mission

A large electromagnet is used to sort metals that will be utilized at a local recycling center. Students are asked to construct an electromagnet crane using a variety of material options to reduce the amount of human contact with the material to be recycled. Criteria and constraints for their design include cost of materials, energy consumption, and efficiency as well as safety of employees operating the crane. Teams will present their designs to the client for feedback.

Maglev Train Track Project

The Metropolitan Council has recently been contacted by several local school districts. They have informed the Council that in the past years, it has taken students a longer time to get to and from school. The reasons for this include heavy traffic and long distance to school. To solve this issue, the Council has decided to construct a Maglev train system. Maglev trains use magnetic properties to keep the train on the track. Several prototypes of these trains have already been designed. Student teams are asked to assist in designing the track within specifications provided by the Metropolitan Council.

Amusement Park Ride Development

Student teams are asked to create an amusement park ride for a community outreach program. Teams will have time to develop a plan, try, test, and redesign their prototype. For the final graded project students will create a storyboard of their journey to the solution as well as communicate evidence to the client.

Musical Classroom 

A local musician needs help making speakers to be able to share their music with students to use in classrooms. Music helps children learn better and excel in the STEM subjects, as well as allows for cultural richness and interests to be shared with the class. Students will be hands on into the design, build, test, redesign and retest phases of the engineering design challenge, and will use their detailed speaker plan to create a prototype speaker. Once their initial speaker is completed, they will move into the testing phase where they evaluate their speaker prototype for frequency range, volume (decibel level), durability, sound quality, and economic efficiency. After evaluating their initial results, students will draw a plan as to how they will make improvements in their redesigned speaker. After building their second iteration of speaker prototype, they will test it and compare their results to their first prototype.

Galactic Games Claw Machine Scheme

Galactic Games is in a terrible situation. They have a claw game called “Steel the Moon,” which travels around to various carnivals, parties, stores, and restaurants. However, it has just been revealed, to their dismay, that claw games are rigged! They need a new “claw” so customers will play their games again. Students are contracted to develop a prototype of an electromagnet arm that will be used in the game instead of the claw. They will only be replacing the claw in our machines, as the other components are still in working order. Not only will students develop the electromagnetic arm, but also explain to the mechanical engineers how to make the electromagnet and justify their reasoning.

Instruments for All

The organization, Playing for Change, seeks to increase music education for students across the globe. Students in an African country do not have a music program at their school. They do not have instruments or a music teacher. They are in need of student goodwill and design knowledge to create playable instruments. These instruments need to play multiple notes, be well constructed, and look and sound good. Students will design and build instruments that will serve as prototypes and can easily be replicated by African students using limited materials. Students will apply their knowledge of waves and the properties of sound in the building of their multi-note instruments.

Protect the Museum

Honeywell Security Systems has been told that there have been recent robberies at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Students are asked to design a security system in order to protect very expensive artifacts at the museum. The client has very specific criteria and constraints that each team of students must follow in order to fully complete this activity. After introducing the challenge, students are immersed in several hands-on/minds-on lessons that enhance their knowledge of key concepts such as light reflection, refraction, and diffraction, as well as how a laser works. Teams of student engineers work together to design a laser pointer security system. The unit includes a self-assessment of the group's final product. In addition, students assess the work of another group, demonstrating their ability to work as a team and critically assess other engineered products.

New Instrument Endeavor

DIY Stringed Instrument Company has been struggling to profit with their current stringed instrument design. It is a toy stringed instrument that children can put together with their parents. Their original design costs a lot to make, which in turn creates an expensive product. Students are asked to create a stringed instrument that has various pitches, provides maximum volume, is cost efficient, and is visually pleasing to our customers. Final instruments are presented and tested to the class for review and feedback.

Create a Generator

Turbines-R-Us has created a simple wind turbine and needs students to design the generator. The generator will consist of a stationary set of coils and a rotating set of magnets. Students will use their knowledge of electricity and magnetism to design a generator set. Then, they will build and test their design on the turbine. After their initial test they will use any information they learned to redesign the generator for a final trial on the turbine. 

Supercharger Electromagnetic Catapult

Through several inquiry based activities, students will start to understand the how magnetism works and the particle movement in a magnetized object. They will also understand electricity in terms of circuits and electron movement by building series and parallel circuits. Students will learn that certain materials can be magnetized and that an electric field can create a magnetic field. For the engineering design challenge, the US Navy will contract students to build a launch system in order to launch airplanes off a boat using an electromagnet. Students will build an electromagnet that will be able to launch a piece of iron in order to hit a target.