>X STEM Expeditions

# STEM Expeditions

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Pitsco's cloud-based STEM Expeditions promote science inquiry, math practices, and engineering design principles by incorporating STEM concepts into real-world, relevant activities.

Each Expedition begins with an Essential Question, which sets the focus and shapes students' thinking. The overall goal is to create critical thinkers and problem solvers by presenting real-world challenges to engage learners with the subject matter.

Fundamental to the Expeditions learning process are collaboration and teamwork. Students collaborate in pairs and in teams as they seek to answer their Essential Question while recording data in logbooks and data sheets to authenticate their learning.

#### Curriculum Titles

Overview

Students learn how athletes have increased in size, strength, and speed; how equipment protects them; and how new equipment is needed to continue to protect them. They use the engineering design process to create a vehicle to safely transport and protect an egg during a crash.

Essential Question

What is the best way to absorb the energy of contact in sports?

Student Objectives

• Learn about the increase in size and strength of athletes at all levels.
• Explore the size increase in athletes.
• Learn about inertia and momentum.
• Learn how Newton's laws affect athletes.
• Use the engineering design process to create a vehicle to safely transport and protect an egg during a crash.

Overview

Students examine the bodies of our solar system and their interactions with one another. Students also determine the needs of a permanent Mars colony, construct a scale model of a Mars colony, and use evidence to justify their decisions.

Essential Question

What is necessary for us to arrive at and establish a permanent colony on Mars?

Student Objectives

• Explore relative distances between bodies in our solar system.
• Examine the role of gravity in the motion of planets and moons.
• Construct a model of the relative distances of the Sun and planets in our solar system.
• Determine the path a rocket must follow to get from Earth to Mars.
• Build a model of a Mars colony.
• Evaluate Mars colony designs.
• Construct a model shelter for a Mars colony.
• Construct a model oxygen production system for a Mars colony.
• Construct a model water facility for a Mars colony.
• Construct a model food production system for a Mars colony.
• Evaluate other students' Mars colony models.

Overview

Students assist in the design of a store's new outlet by helping the owner make decisions about genetically modified produce. Students research biotechnology, evaluate sources of information for validity, and make recommendations for the store justified by valid evidence that he or she has collected.

Essential Question

How should genetically modified organisms be labeled and displayed in a store?

Student Objectives

• Develop a preliminary layout for The Produce Aisle.
• Build a model of a DNA molecule.
• Model the use of a restriction enzyme to create recombinant DNA.
• Model mitosis and list the major events of each phase.
• Model meiosis and list the major events of each phase.
• Use Punnett squares to predict possible offspring in a cross.
• Compare actual random numbers to predicted outcomes and explain the difference.
• Distinguish between natural and artificial selection.

Overview

Students work as civil engineers for the Plan-it Span-it bridge construction company while exploring types of bridges and the roles civil engineers play in the design and construction of bridges and other projects. Students work through the stages of the engineering design process as they design, plan, construct, and test a model balsa bridge using given specifications. Students also learn how to use equipment designed specifically for building the model as well as techniques to improve the design.

Essential Question

What is the best bridge design for spanning a distance?

Student Objectives

• Learn about types of bridges.
• Brainstorm possible bridge designs and sketch those designs.
• Select a final bridge design for proposal and create detailed drawings.
• Identify the forces of compression, tension, and shear.
• Distinguish between static and dynamic forces in relation to load on a bridge.
• Create a detailed technical drawing of a selected bridge design.
• Test the bridge to failure and record relevant data.
• Propose possible improvements to the bridge design.

Overview

Students learn the essential elements of a communications system, create a simple communications system, complete several types of drafting sketches, learn about fiber-optic transmission systems, and engineer a communications system.

Essential Question

What is the best way to transmit a signal in a communications system?

Student Objectives

• Learn the essential parts of a communications system.
• Define communication and graphic communication.
• Complete a communication activity.
• Learn how graphic communication is used to convey ideas.
• List the components of a graphic communications system.
• Complete sketches: orthographic, isometric, and oblique.
• Complete a time line of printing history.
• Use a printing process to print a design.
• Learn how telecommunications systems function.
• Develop a working communications system.
• Transmit a message using your communications system.

Overview

Students explore how simple machines are used to accomplish work. Students conduct an experiment to see how energy and work are conserved when using simple machines. Working together, students explore the six classical simple machines, how people have used simple machines throughout history, modern applications of these ancient devices, and how the mechanical advantage of these machines affects the effort required to perform a task. The Expedition culminates with the Siege Machine Challenge, in which students engineer a siege machine that is made up of two or more simple machines.

Essential Question

What is the best way to use simple machines to make work easier?

Student Objectives

• Identify the six simple machines.
• Explore the concept of work.
• Experiment with an inclined plane to see how simple machines conserve energy.
• Explore the uses of inclined planes, wedges, and screws.
• Conduct experiments to see how these machines change the effort required to do work.
• Calculate the mechanical advantage of a TETRIX® PRIME Thumbscrew.
• Use interpolation and extrapolation to predict the effort required to lift a load.
• Draw conclusions about the relationship between lever arm length, effort force, and mechanical advantage.
• Investigate how wheel and axles accomplish work.
• Conduct a pulley experiment with several different pulley systems.
• Use the engineering design process to design and build a siege machine that incorporates multiple simple machines.

Overview

Students learn about the different types and uses of composites as well as create and test various composites to determine their resistance to deflection. Students design and create a composite material that they think best resists deflection and provides the lightest weight.

Essential Question

What materials are best combined to create a strong yet lightweight composite beam?

Student Objectives

• Explore the history of composites.
• Create a lamination composite.
• Create a hand layup composite.
• Create a random arrangement composite.
• Create a sandwich composite.
• Perform deflection testing of each sample composite.

Overview

Students investigate factors that affect agricultural food production in America. They explore the concept of sustainable farming, how technology has changed agriculture in the US, and modern trends related to urban farming. Students start a radish garden and make observations of the garden at different stages of growth. They also engineer and test a greenhouse that meets certain construction requirements.

Essential Question

What is the best way to increase the quantity and quality of America’s food supply?

Student Objectives

• Explore the concept of sustainable farming.
• Determine the amount of land available on Earth that is suitable for agriculture.
• Plant a glove garden.
• Compare traditional and organic farming practices.
• Describe how the cycling of Earth's materials produces soil.
• Complete an activity to determine the amount of usable farmland on Earth.
• Explore how technology has changed agriculture in the US.
• Explore modern trends related to urban farming.
• Engineer a greenhouse that meets specific requirements.
• Conduct an experiment with your model greenhouse to determine its effectiveness.
• Explore the role Earth's water cycle plays in irrigating farmland.
• Conduct a case study on how irrigation has affected certain areas of the world.
• Graph and analyze experimental data.
• Learn how to transplant to a larger container so plants can continue to grow and develop.