Students are confronted with a scenario of a student who is texting and driving in the school parking lot and they are tasked to determine the effect of various parameters to see if a student will collide with a pedestrian. Students must begin by breaking the scenario down into more manageable parts to determine what must be studied about the situation. Through a series of labs and activities, students learn how to model and predict situations with constant velocity and acceleration. Then, coding a spreadsheet, students model the complex situation of a texting driver, reacting, and braking during a potentially hazardous situation to create an evidence-based argument.
This unit is centered on designing a shoe for a customer. Students decide on a particular type of shoe that they want to design and utilize ideas of force, impulse, and friction to meet the needs of a particular customer. Force plates are used study the relationship between force, time, and impulse to allow students to get the mathematical models that allow them to make data informed decisions about their shoe design.
The phenomenon that launches this unit is a cell phone call to a student in the class, where the caller on speaker phone asks “How are you hearing me?”. Over the course of the unit, students discover the patterns with waves. Then use that understanding to explain ultrasound medical imagining technology and ultimately how cell phones work. Cell phone communication is operationalized by the engineering challenge of communicating a three letter signal by first coding a spreadsheet to digitize the signal in binary (ASCII), then transmit the digital signal using light and sound (AM and FM), then receive and decode the signal to complete the communication. This project models the sending and receiving of a text message.
This unit is loaded with phenomena. The real world task of being a member of Oregon's Energy Commission that must create a 50-Year Energy Plan propels students through a learning arc that includes electricity, magnetism, power production, and climate science. After the Request for a 50-Year Energy Plan students jigsaw energy sources and power production. They need to understand the basic physics of how generators works leads us to build and explore motors (starting with speakers which also connect to the Waves & Technology unit) and inefficient generators (electric guitars). The need for large amounts of energy and efficient generators motivates us to engineer wind turbines and optimize solar cells for a local facilities use. Creating the rubric to evaluate large scale power production launches us into climate science. With all the learning of the unit students and many real world constraints student finally complete, compare, and evaluate their 50-Year Energy Plan.
By using the hook of Halley’s comet, dark matter, and dark energy students data mine Newton’s Law of Universal Gravity and build an and evaluate other arguments for the Big Bang.