ENGINEERING & SCIENCE
Our efforts to include Science and Engineering subjects in our after-school program are based upon evidence that young people need to experience these subjects beyond the school day. Recent research indicates that interest in science before 8th grade is a better predictor of future academic and career decisions than math achievement test scores. Exploring topics such as Astronomy, Air and Weather, Energy, Organisms, Solids and Liqiuds, Light and Sound, to name a few, will not only support students when it comes time to learn physics, chemistry
and biology, but it will also spark their lifelong exploration of science, technology, engineering and math.
Each unit starts with an engaging storybook about a child who solves a real-world problem through science and engineering. Our storybooks integrate literacy and social studies with the engineering and science lessons—and help students understand how STEM subjects are relevant to their lives, the lives of others and to our society as a whole. Each lesson consists of research-based, teacher-tested activities that develop creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Our hands-on, cooperative, project-based engineering activities that integrate with science instruction not only engage children and teach them how to investigate the way scientists work, but also aligns with the National Science Education Standards. Each lesson teaches children how to think and behave like scientists. Children learn how to form hypotheses, test their ideas, document their experiments, observe the results and make conclusions.
SUMMER 2020 SESSION:
Go Green: Engineering from Recycled Materials
This summer, we will put on our engineering hats and go green to engineer with recycled materials. Throughout this unit, children will learn about green engineering and work to engineer several projects made out of recycled materials. Projects include: building a ballon car, a straw rocket, a cotton ball launcher, a phone cup, or a parachute. The unit is set in a real-world context: children will learn about the recycling culture in Senegal and the toys children make there.
Introduction to Urban Birding
Just because you live in a city doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the natural world. Nature is all around us: if you know where to look. This workshop will show your child how to see and listen to nature. Once your child begins noticing the diverse species living right outside her/his doorstep, she/he will begin naming and appreciating the living creatures that share the city with us. In the Introduction to Urban birding, your child will learn how to name the species who live next door, how to identify birds by sight and sound, and how to look for habitats and nests. We will also explore basic elements of biology, biodiversity, conservation, and ecology. Your child will begin seeing and hearing the treasures in your community that currently go unnoticed. The introduction to this process will cultivate more awareness, gratitude, and awe. Binoculars are strongly encouraged for this course.
WINTER 2020 SESSION:
Sound and Light
We will begin this semester with the study of Sound. We start with a story of a young drummer from Ghana, Kwame, who is blind; his father, an acoustical engineer, shows Kwame that sound is vibration and can be represented with both visual symbols (such as musical notation and spectrograms) and tactile symbols. Hands-on activities in this unit will lead students to explore the properties of volume and pitch, investigate ways to dampen sound, and develop their own novel way to represent the key elements of sound.
In the second part of our 11-week long session, students will explore another core physics topic: Light. Optical engineers design all kinds of devices that use light to do something useful—from lasers and telescopes to fiber-optic communication systems. Students will be introduced to a story about an Egyptian boy who uses what he learns from optical engineers working inside ancient tombs to develop an ingenious system for lighting the dancers in a school performance. This unit gets students thinking like optical engineers as they explore how light interacts with different materials. They will use what they’ve learned about the properties of light as they design a system to illuminate hieroglyphics in a model tomb.
FALL 2019 SESSION:
We begin our new school year with the exciting new topic called Aerospace Engineering: Designing Parachutes. Throughout this unit, students will use what they learn about the science of astronomy to design and improve a parachute. The unit will begin with a story about a boy from Brazil who solves a similar engineering design challenge. This unit introduces students to aerospace engineering—and how aerospace engineers use their knowledge of astronomy to design space technologies. After completing this unit, students will be able to do the following:
explain how aerospace engineers design things that fly through air or space.
discuss atmospheres and drag (or air resistance) and how they relate.
identify the basic parts of a parachute and explain how parachutes work.
identify and explain the steps of the Engineering Design Process.
"Engineering is Elementary" - Sample Topics (Gr. 1-5):
Air and Weather
Mechanical engineering involves the design of anything with moving parts. In this unit, students will think like mechanical engineers—and also use their understanding of air as wind—to design and create wind-powered machines. The storybook Leif Catches the Wind introduces students to wind turbines that generate renewable energy. Students will study how common machines such as mechanical pencils and egg beaters work, then use their mechanical engineering skills to design sailboats and windmills that catch the wind.
Balance & Forces
When civil engineers design bridges, they must take into account factors like balance and motion. This unit introduces the principles behind bridge design with the storybook Javier Builds a Bridge, about a boy who needs a safe footbridge to get to his island play fort. Students will reinforce their understanding of “push” and “pull” as they explore how forces act on different structures. They’ll use what they know about balance and force as they experiment with beam, arch, and suspension bridges—and learn how bridge designs counteract and redirect forces and motion. In the final design challenge, students plan, build, and test their own bridges.
Solids and Liquids
If you’ve ever followed a recipe, you know that the amount of each ingredient and the order in which you mix them matters. Chemical engineers use these same principles when designing processes. When students read the storybook Michelle’s MVP Award, they learn about a girl who designs a better way to make play dough. The activities in this unit reinforce the science concepts “solid” and “liquid” as students explore the properties of different materials—and the properties of mixtures of materials. The final engineering design challenge? Design a process for making high-quality play dough.
Membranes are thin layers that let helpful substances pass through and keep harmful substances out. In this unit, students learn to think like bioengineers as they design a model membrane to mimic the properties of real membranes in live organisms. The storybook Juan Daniel’s Futbol Frog sets the scene, as students read about a boy who engineers a membrane to keep a frog alive. Students learn how membranes function and apply their knowledge of the basic needs of living organisms to the engineering design challenge: designing a frog habitat with a model membrane that delivers just the right amount of water.
Floating and Sinking
To study the ocean, scientists and engineers use submersibles—small, remote-controlled underwater vessels. This unit introduces students to the field of ocean engineering through the storybook Despina Makes a Splash, about girl in Greece who designs a submersible to retrieve lost diving goggles. Students learn about sounding poles and sonar as they map a section of ocean floor. Then they apply their knowledge of density, floating, and sinking to design their own submersible, equip it with research instruments, and retrieve packages from a model ocean floor.
The water you drink is clean and safe thanks to the environmental engineers who design and manage our water supply and water treatment systems. In this unit, the storybook Saving Salila’s Turtle introduces students to the problem of water pollution—and to some solutions. Students will investigate the properties of filter materials, apply their knowledge of water, and think like environmental engineers as they plan, construct, test and improve their own water filters.