Evidence of human engineering is present in nearly every type of applied science field. Mechanical engineers use their knowledge of force and motion to build engines that transport goods and people, machines and tools, ranging from vacuum cleaners to assembly equipment in factories, which make our ways of life possible, along with many other types of devices. Structural engineers use their knowledge of force and motion to design structures that can withstand normal forces such as wind and atypical forces such as earthquakes, monsoons and hurricanes. Other engineers apply their understanding of genetics to the design of insect repellant crops, genetically modified food, cloning and stem cell research. Engineers use their knowledge of acid and base chemistry to design non-corrosive infrastructures, car batteries, chemical fertilizers and food preservation techniques. Engineering is truly all around us.
Basically Acids and Basically Acidic Ink
In this lesson/activity set, students learn the basics of acid/base chemistry in a fun, interactive way, inspired by instances of acid/base chemistry seen in popular films such as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and National Treasure. In National Treasure, characters apply lemon juice and heat to the back of the original Declaration of Independence to reveal an old message written in invisible ink. In the Harry Potter movie, a blank piece of parchment becomes a magical Marauder's Map. As students create their own invisible inks, they learn what acids, bases and indicators are and how they can be used. They also learn how engineers use acids and bases everyday better our quality of life.
Using red cabbage juice as a pH indicator.
Don't Be a Square
Students watch a video clip from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to learn about genetic traits. Specifically, they realize that the ability to speak parseltongue (being able to speak to snakes) is a genetic trait possessed by some characters and their parents. Students explore the use of Punnett squares to predict trait inheritance, learning about genotypes and phenotypes.
Example Punnett square.
Projectile Magic and Magical Motion
In this lesson/activity set, students watch video clips from October Sky and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to learn about projectile motion. In October Sky , Homer Hickam calculates the trajectory of a homemade rocket in front of his science class. In the Harry Potter movie, Malfoy throws Neville's remembrall and Harry races after it, making a spectacular catch (all while flying on broomsticks). Then students explore the relationships between displacement, velocity and acceleration and calculate simple projectile motion.
Projectile motion of the remembrall (a device from the Harry Potter wizardry world).
- - Day 1: Basically Acids lesson
- - Day 2: Basically Acidic Ink activity
- - Day 3: Don't Be a Square lesson
- - Day 4: Projectile Magic lesson
- - Day 5: Magical Motion activity