Springfield Engineering Explorations 8/1: Boat Building

Springfield Engineering Explorations 8/1: 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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Springfield MicroSTEM 8-1: Thermodynamics Part 2

Springfield MicroSTEM 8-1: Thermodynamics Part 2

Students continued their exploration in thermodynamics today with another heating experiment. Yesterday, students started with a beaker of ice, which they heated until the water boiled. They created a time versus temperature graph of their collected data in order to observe how phase changes affect temperature. Today, students performed the same experiment with a twist: they added salt to the water. They created another graph, and compared how the salt affected the time vs. temperature curve.

Ask your student: How did adding salt change the way your graph looked? (boiling point increased, reduced the time it took to melt) What do the plateaus on the graph represent? (phase changes)

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Springfield Engineering Explorations 7/31: Mini Lungs

Springfield Engineering Explorations 7/31: Mini Lungs

Today, in Engineering Explorations, the students learned about the anatomy of the heart and lungs and how they function in the human body. Our bio-engineers built their own working model of a lung and demonstrated how the diaphragm works based on air pressure differentials. The end goal of the day was to relate the lung model to relevant heart anatomy and physiology.

Ask your student: What is the purpose of the diaphragm in the repertory system? (Each breath begins with a contraction of a dome-shaped sheet of muscle underneath the lungs called the diaphragm. During inhalation (taking air into your lungs) your diaphragm contracts, or flattens downward, which reduces pressure in the chest cavity. Normal outside air pressure is higher, which forces air through the nose and mouth, down the trachea and into the lungs where pressure is lower (pressure systems move from high to low). On the other hand, upon exhalation your diaphragm relaxes, which increases pressure on the lungs and forcing air, containing carbon dioxide, out of the body.)

Springfield STEMvironment 7/31: “Renew-a-Bean”

Springfield STEMvironment 7/31: “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)

Springfield MicroSTEM 7-31: Bacteria Among Us

Springfield MicroSTEM 7-31: Bacteria Among Us

Students began a two day project today, investigating bacteria that surrounds us. Each student will test their own fingers, and each group of 4 students could pick up to 8 different surfaces to see what kinds of bacteria live there. Alternatively, the students could choose to see what happened to the bacteria from the same surface with some sort of treatment (applying hand sanitizer, soap, etc.). Students were given the chance to make a hypothesis about what they expect to see on their plates. Later on this week, the students will use a microscope to look at the results of their samples, and test their hypotheses.

Ask your student: If bacteria surrounds us, why don’t we get sick more often? (Not all bacteria are pathogenic (disease causing)) What are some examples of places where good bacteria are found? (Almost anywhere has some amount of good bacteria, some examples would be in our intestines and mouth)

Biomedical Engineering 7-28

Biomedical Engineering 7-28

Students began the day with a discussion of how fluid mechanics played a role in the design of their heart models, and also discussed how the heart compared to other kinds of pumps. Next, they were given the chance to reflect on the design process of their BristleBots, which they had been working on all week. As a class, students put the finishing touches on the big heart model, and worked together to label the parts of the heart. They also prepared to present all of their projects to the parents at the end of the day.

Ask your student: Which parts of your BristleBot design were most effective? Which material would be the most versatile for building a BristleBot?

MYTHconceptions 7-28: Own Your Own Myth

MYTHconceptions 7-28: Own Your Own Myth

This week, students worked in groups to test their own myth. They used steps from the traditional scientific method in order to refute or support a claim. Today, students finalized their conclusions and shared their observations and results with the class. They made posters of their results and gave small presentations to the class.

Ask your student: What claim did your group test? Was it a myth?


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Check out all of our posters from proving/ disproving our myths!


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Belleville MicroSTEM 7-28: Applied Circuitry

Belleville MicroSTEM 7-28: Applied Circuitry

Today, in MircoSTEM, the students examined real circuits in a calculator to see how a calculator functions and explore how numbers are displayed. Students focused on the display of the calculator, in particular how numbers are displayed using a 7-segment display.

Ask your student: What type of numerical display do most four function calculators have? (7-segment) What type of numerical display do most graphing calculators have? (Dot matrix)

Chemapalooza 7-28: So Sublime

Chemapalooza 7-28: So Sublime

Today students observed first-hand how regular ice and dry ice differ in their behaviors. Students studied both types of ice in one scenario, and used their observations to predict what would happen in a different scenario! Finally, collected evidence to make claims about the strange phase-changing properties of dry ice, created models, and presented them to the group.

Ask your student:  What is it called when a substance goes from a solid straight to a gas? (Sublimation) Ask your student to tell you some of the differences they observed between dry and regular ice.


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