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Viewing entries tagged Engineering

Quicker'n a Wink

Posted by Diego Fonstad
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on Sunday, 08 May 2011
in Videos worth watching

Quick Stuff!Teachable Moment: MIT's "Doc" Edgerton pioneered slow motion photography through the use of strobe lights and innovative cameras.  It's amazing that this short, Oscar winning, 50+ year old documentary can still engage viewers into understanding physical properties of the world around them.

 

Why the other line is likely to move faster

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Monday, 02 May 2011
in Videos worth watching

Queuing theory on why the other line moves fasterTeachable Moment: Queueing theory is something everyone should understand and this short video provides a nice background on it.

Bill introduces queueing theory and uses it to design the most efficient check out line.

 

 

Tags: Engineering
Hits: 12710

The Naked Scientists

Posted by Diego Fonstad
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on Sunday, 01 May 2011
in Online Resources

The Naked ScientistsTeachable Moment: Engaging podcasts on science.  I particularly like the hands on experiments in the Kitchen Science section http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/kitchenscience/ and Garage Science http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/kitchenscience/garage-science/

The Naked Scientists are a media-savvy group of physicians and researchers from Cambridge University who use radio, live lectures, and the Internet to strip science down to its bare essentials, and promote it to the general public. Their award winning BBC weekly radio programme, The Naked Scientists, reaches a potential audience of 6 million listeners across the east of England, and also has an international following on the web.

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The Space Shuttle

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Wednesday, 20 April 2011
in Videos worth watching

Space ShuttleTeachable Moment: This 14 minute documentary produced by NASA on the occasion of the 2011 retirement of the program, puts into amazing perspective the impact and scope of the shuttle program after 30 years of flights.  
It also provides a window into the process of development of novel programs... down to the detail of early models being pulled by a souped up Pontiac!
And in a stroke of brilliance, William Shatner is the narrator...

Lessons from the O-Ring Analysis of The Challenger Disaster

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Saturday, 09 April 2011
in True (or so we're told) Stories

Teachable Moment: The Challenger disaster was blamed on gas escaping from a faulty o-ring and much debate and discussion has emerged about how engineers should have known that that could have happened.  The data is readily available for students to analyze and plot themselves and can lead to a great case study or discussion.

Richard Feynman was one of twelve members appointed to a commission tasked with investigating the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Feynman's experiments showed that the tragedy was caused by a failure of the craft's rubber-like O-rings. Made of material with reduced resilience at temperatures below freezing, the rings were cracked by freezing weather, cracks which led to the escape of hot gasses leading to the fatal explosion. Much to the annoyance of commission chair William P. Rogers, Feynman used a glass of ice water and an O-ring to conclusively show the seal's vulnerability — at a press conference in front of live television cameras.

Tags: Engineering, Math
Hits: 96984

Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Saturday, 09 April 2011
in True (or so we're told) Stories

Teachable Moment: When I first heard this story I was told the iron was made from the failed Quebec Bridge, which I guess isn't true but the ceremonial message of responsibility still holds... this ring is a great reminder of how important engineering decisions can be.

The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer has a history dating back to 1922, when seven past-presidents of the Engineering Institute of Canada attended a meeting in Montreal with other engineers. One of the speakers was civil engineer Professor Haultain of the University of Toronto. He felt that an organization was needed to bind all members of the engineering profession in Canada more closely together. He also felt that an obligation or statement of ethics to which a young graduate in engineering could subscribe should be developed. The seven past-presidents of the Engineering Institute of Canada were very receptive to this idea.

Tags: Engineering
Hits: 18052

Tacoma Bridge Disaster - Galloping Gertie

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Saturday, 09 April 2011
in Videos worth watching

Teachable Moment: The Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse has long been used as an example of forced resonance in physics text books but recent analysis suggests aerodynamically induced "forced excitation" (see second reference) may have been the cause.  Either way, the video footage is dramatic and encourages great discussion!

The 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge was the first incarnation of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a suspension bridge in the U.S. state of Washington that spanned the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound between Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula. It opened to traffic on July 1, 1940, and dramatically collapsed into Puget Sound on November 7 of the same year. At the time of its construction (and its destruction) the bridge was the third longest suspension bridge in the world in terms of main span length, behind the Golden Gate Bridge and the George Washington Bridge.

Tags: Engineering
Hits: 87765

Space Math @ NASA

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Thursday, 07 April 2011
in Online Resources

Space Math at NASATeachable Moment: Most applied math problems are simply dressed up word problems but don't make the math any more interesting or engaging.  This web site teases out math problems from current events, press releases, and NASA missions.

SpaceMath@NASA introduces students to the use of mathematics in todays scientific discoveries. Through press releases and other articles, we explore how many kinds of mathematics skills come together in exploring the universe.

References: http://spacemath.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 07 April 2011
in True (or so we're told) Stories

Teachable Moment: "Applied Math" can often be full of tortured attempts to make a math problem relevant by layering a story... but real life failures!  That's fun and memorable ;-)
Use the second link in the reference for the answer key.

Story 1: On September 23, 1999 NASA lost the $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft after a 286-day journey to Mars. Miscalculations due to the use of English units instead of metric units apparently sent the craft slowly off course - - 60 miles in all. Thrusters used to help point the spacecraft had, over the course of months, been fired incorrectly because data used to control the wheels were calculated in incorrect units.

Lockheed Martin, which was performing the calculations, was sending thruster data in English units (pounds) to NASA, while NASA's navigation team was expecting metric units (Newtons).

Problem 1 - A solid rocket booster is ordered with the specification that it is to produce a total of 10 million pounds of thrust. If this number is mistaken for the thrust in Newtons, by how much, in pounds, will the thrust be in error? (1 pound = 4.5 Newtons)

Tags: Engineering, Math
Hits: 53720

National Science Digital Library

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Thursday, 07 April 2011
in Online Resources

NSDL LogoThe National Science Digital Library (NSDL) is a national network of digital envirionments dedicated to advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning for all learners, in both formal and informal settings. NSDL is the locus of activity for the National STEM Distributed Learning program.

NSDL receives the majority of its funding through the generous support of NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE), Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR).

NSDL advances teaching and learning by providing:

Hits: 14835

NRICH

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Monday, 21 March 2011
in Online Resources

Nrich LogoTeachable Moment: Treasure trove of resources for teaching math including STEM topics

ABOUT NRICH

The NRICH Project aims to enrich the mathematical experiences of all learners. To support this aim, members of the NRICH team work in a wide range of capacities, including providing professional development for teachers wishing to embed rich mathematical tasks into everyday classroom practice. More information on many of our other recent activities can be found on our news pages.

SMART Exchange

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Tuesday, 15 March 2011
in Online Resources

SMART Exchange LogoFind lesson plans for the SMART boards and connect with teachers.

References: http://exchange.smarttech.com/

Hits: 36615

TOPS Science: Teach Science with Simple Things

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Saturday, 12 March 2011
in Online Resources

TOPS Science LogoTeachable Moment: Advances in technology have enabled amazing new science tools... yet its refreshing to be reminded that good science needs solid DIY skills and can be done with everyday objects.

Welcome to TOPS,the non-profit that is here to help kids everywhere do hands-on science with simple things. We offer the best science projects for parents, teachers and students that are simple to do. Our fun science activities can be done with simple things that are probably already in your home or classroom.

References: http://www.topscience.org/

Hits: 15050

Alexander Graham Bell's Delightfully Weird Sketchbooks

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Thursday, 10 March 2011
in The Mother of Invention

Teachable Moment: It's fun to see how much his mind wandered and the breadth of his interests.

Go to the Library of Congress for the full sketchbooks

The Atlantic Article has a great selection of images from the sketchbooks.

From the Atlantic Article:

It was on March 10, 1876 that Alexander Graham Bell made the first successful telephone call. "'Mr. Watson--come here--I want to see you," he said to his assistant, who was in the next room. Bell recorded those early telephone experiments in his lab notebooks from the time, as he did with countless other experiments and ideas.

Tags: Engineering
Hits: 15992

Lego Antikythera Mechanism

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad has not set their biography yet
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on Wednesday, 09 March 2011
in Videos worth watching

Lego Antikythera MechanismTeachable Moment: It's easy to dismiss this as "I guess some people will try to build anything with Lego" but it highlights how simple building blocks (OK... it uses some differential gears which aren't that "simple") when properly and cleverly combined can make complex computations.

 

Hits: 12322

Curriki

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Monday, 14 February 2011
in Online Resources

Curriki LogoCurriki is more than your average website; we're a community of educators, learners and committed education experts who are working together to create quality materials that will benefit teachers and students around the world.

Curriki is an online environment created to support the development and free distribution of world-class educational materials to anyone who needs them. Our name is a play on the combination of 'curriculum' and 'wiki' which is the technology we're using to make education universally accessible.

How searching through patents led to the invention of the magnetic tape drive

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad has not set their biography yet
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on Monday, 14 February 2011
in The Mother of Invention

Teachable Moment: The Lemelson-MIT Program on invention focuses on promoting invention but I really like the story of how Lemelson himself invented the mechanism that became ubiquitous in the Sony Walkman because he wanted to devise a better way to search patents. 

From the bio on the web site: "Lemelson first struck on the idea of using magnetic tape to store images when he and his wife were doing a manual search at the United States Patent Office. Frustrated by the daunting task, Lemelson began to think of ways to mechanize the system.

Tags: Engineering
Hits: 24554

TechBrick Robotics

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Monday, 14 February 2011
in Online Resources

TechBrick RoboticsTeachable Moment: If you participate in the First Lego League (FLL) the worksheets on this web site are indispensable.  Every year, they make scoring sheets, scale field sheets (for laying out a program) and lots of other useful tools.

This web site was created by a veteran FLL coach and has worksheets, scoring sheets and even an iPhone app for scoring.

References: http://www.techbrick.com

Edutopia

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Monday, 14 February 2011
in Online Resources

edutopia logoEdutopia is the tangible embodiment of the George Lucas Educational Foundation vision. Through the Edutopia.org Web site, we spread the word about ideal, interactive learning environments and enable others to adapt these successes locally. Edutopia.org contains a deep archive of continually updated best practices, from classroom tips to recommendations for districtwide change. Allied with a dedicated audience that actively contributes success stories from the field, our mission relies on input and participation from schools and communities.

Biomimicry: How a seashell inspired the invention of the cochlear implant

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Monday, 14 February 2011
in The Mother of Invention

Teachable Moment: This is a great example of how stepping away from a problem can often lead to novel solutions.  It can also be used to illustrate how working with a mock-up of the target can provide novel insights.

From the Cosmos Article: FOR 10 YEARS, Graeme Clark had been working tirelessly to develop an implant that would help the deaf to hear. The theory made sense. The electronics had been developed, and the design was near finalised.

Hits: 38710