Workshop Date: October 13th, 2017
Address: OSTA Annual Conference, PCC Sylvania Campus, 12000 SW 49th Ave., Portland, OR
Session A: Biology/Earth/Environmental Science: “Clean Water” (9am – 11am)
What happens when “the big one” hits? How do we get clean, safe water for our daily needs when water systems may be down for weeks? This scenario motivates a design activity to design and build a personal water purifier. The module starts with an introduction of the Lifesaver, an inspirational invention created to reduce misery and save lives in locations where fresh potable water is not available, and launches students into an inquiry phase to learn about common environmental contaminants and the purification properties of common materials. This data is then used by student teams to design their own “personal water purifiers” that can remove various types of pollution, from particulates and protozoans to acids. The module combines core ideas in life science and chemistry to integrate science with engineering design and invention to let students solve a problem of high relevance to our region.
Session B: Chemistry: “Emergency Batteries” (11:30am – 2:30pm)
What do we do when the power is down and the lights go out? This module expands on this real-life situation to let students explore the basics of chemical generation of electricity by exploring practical chemistry and designing their own emergency battery and LED light. Moving beyond the typical qualitative lemon battery experiment, students engage in a team design project to systematically investigate the electrochemical properties of different metals and common household electrolytes (vinegar and lemons, but also coke, coffee, salt and Smarties!) that can be used to make a emergency battery to power a night light. This data is then used by the teams to design and optimize batteries that can power an LED emergency light for several nights.
Session C: Physics: “Music, Waves, and Vibes” (3pm – 6 pm)
What is sound? Why does the sound from a guitar or saxophone sound “musical”, and why does a guitar sound different from a ukulele or a violin? A great way to find out is to have students design their own musical instruments. Starting with a playful session building “sound machines”, students then explore the properties of sound waves, vibrating strings, and resonators. A structured scientific inquiry of strings under tension using a phone app that lets students generate their own engineering data for designing a stringed instrument. Using their own experimental data, the student teams then design and build their own stringed instruments mapped onto a specific frequency scale. The final design is optimized by exploring the role of harmonics and resonances that give musical sound it’s pleasant richness.
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