Lesson Plans

The Marshmallow Challenge (STEM Education)

The Marshmallow Challenge is an engineering challenge that can be used in any content area or situation.  In this challenge students will work in groups of four to collaborate and build the tallest free standing tower out of 30 strands of uncooked spaghetti, a meter of string, arms length of tape, and a marshmallow that must be mounted on the top of the structure.  Students have 20 minutes to finish this challenge.  In this lesson students will use the Engineering Design Process to ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve their design. This lesson can be used as a get-to-know you activity, collaborative team building, engineering lesson, or lesson with Math connections. Students are assessed on how successfully they complete the challenge.

Author: Michelle Woods


Content Area
  • Science

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The Learning Garden: Structures and Functions of Living Organisms

Today’s generation of students often do not understand the sources of their food. In this unit student learning will be guided through the implementation of garden cultivation. Students will cultivate raised garden beds as a part of this unit to integrate real life farming/gardening experiences. Within this lesson students will be able to better understand the importance of agriculture as it relates to science. Students will have an opportunity to recognize that agriculture provides an ample food supply to society. Students will use real life experiences to gain greater understanding of North Carolina Common Core Essential Standards as they relate to the structures and functions of living organisms through numerous interactive activities.

Author: Crystal Boyd


Content Area
  • Science

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Making Connections with Water Quality

In this unit, students will study the health of a water system by determining the balance between physical, chemical and biological variables.  Physical variables include temperature, turbidity, and water movement. Chemical variables include dissolved oxygen and other gases, pH, nitrates, and salinity.  The health of water systems is dependent on the balance of its many natural systems. Students will focus on contaminants that harm our water quality and will research means of water filtration.  This unit is designed to encourage students to apply prior knowledge of technology and water to determine if local water is safe for consumption.

Author: Kathleen Boice


Content Area
  • Earth Science
  • Science

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Measurements for My Groomsmen

In the present day, all the different units we use for measurement are standardized.  Every person knows precisely the length of a foot, or a meter, or an inch, or a centimeter.  Of course, we do not all use the same system, but within any structure of measurement, we all concur on what each unit represents.

In this project, much of the learning responsibility is placed on the student. The driving question is open ended enough that several answers and perspectives are possible. Students will be expected to conduct independent research with tools given to them and use the data to interpret the metric system from big to small.

Author:

Tremain Holloway, 2014-15 Kenan Fellow


Content Area
  • Math

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We’re ALL Engineers

This lesson teaches students about the properties of waves. Students will identify the basic characteristics of a transverse wave: trough, crest, amplitude, and wavelength. Students will also identify the basic characteristics of a longitudinal (compressional) wave: amplitude, rarefaction, and compression.

Author: Brittany Head


Content Area
  • Earth Science
  • Science

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Does the type of cell matter when it comes to Biotechnology’s cell culture development?

Biotechnology is one of the largest and fasted growing science-based industries in North Carolina. In this lesson students will have an opportunity to research some different Biotech companies in North Carolina. Secondly, students will grow live yeast cultures to model the cell culture development essential to the success of biotech companies. Students will manipulate different limiting factors such as temperature and the amount of media to measure the impact on cell growth/viability. The third part of this lesson will have students graphing, performing data analysis, and comparative analysis to modeled-data from Biogen Idec’s cell culture development.

Author: Julie-Anne Thomasch


Content Area
  • Biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Science

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Say No To Drugs, Unless They Save Your Life

This lesson plan is meant for AP Environmental Science classes, but could also be used for Earth/Environmental Science or Biology in parts (or as a whole). It stems from my work with Metrics, Inc. (a pharmaceutical company) and incorporates skills used in the pharmaceutical industry with those of Earth/Environmental sciences.

Students will learn about the chemistry of creating medicines, how the land is altered in gathering resources and storing wastes, how humans are affected by diseases, and how land and water quality are affected when handling the wastes created as medicines are developed, tested, and used. Students will be assessed by their creation and analysis of graphical data, participation in blogs, ability to work together to present information, and the creation of a graphic organizer detailing the interaction of the disease and medicine as well as the effects on the environment. Students will also be given a quiz at the end of the lesson to assess understanding of the concepts presented.

Author: Ryan Gardner


Content Area
  • Science

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Should this Little Drug go to Market

The quality control team is a group of individuals, at a specific company, who are responsible for making sure all products are tested and deemed safe before release.  Students will take on the role of the quality control team through this curriculum.  Students will apply their knowledge of physical and chemical characteristics to test a “drug” for safety before it is released to market. After testing, students will apply their knowledge of the drug development process to create a standard operation of protocol (SOP), so others can make the drug.  Through this process, students will learn the importance of communication (verbal and written), team work, collaboration, maintaining controls and documentation.  Students will also develop a deeper understanding of the biotechnology industry, what it is, who works there, and how this can be part of their future.

Author: Erin Lawrence


Content Area
  • Chemistry
  • Science

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Unit Plan on Energy Sources, Transformation, Distribution and Environmental Impact of Energy Production

We have always studied the different forms of energy and all its effect to the environment. We focus on the production and then the consumption and its environmental effects but not much emphasis is given on the distribution parts.

In this project I would like the students to understand how energy is transformed and delivered to the ultimate users to make them more appreciative of energy and hopefully in the process make them a good and conscientious citizen in using energy.

Author:
Cicelia Aguilar


Content Area
  • Physics
  • Science

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Activate Now: Your Active Minutes Explored

Through this Project Based Learning unit, students will explore how to track exercise using the Fitbit One. They will also learn about the One Health initiative and STEM careers.

Using a mind map, they will illustrate research they find on benefits of exercise and short/long-term consequences of not exercising. Finally, using the Engineering Design Process, they will create a study to find out if they are meeting the daily exercise guidelines of at least 60 minutes of exercise, for at least 5 days a week. To summarize their findings, students will collect, organize, display and analyze their data.

Author: 
Michelle Bass


Content Area
  • Math

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Sense the Sensors Around You

In this lesson, students are going to look at sensors and how they are used in many applications. The lesson is connected to the STEM initiative, and gives students an opening to the world of science and engineering.  Students are going to investigate different sensors that are around them and what these sensors are gathering.  Students are going to draw and design a hygrometer which measures humidity levels, select from everyday items to build their hygrometer, test their machine using a spray bottle to increase humidity, evaluate the effectiveness of their construction and present their findings to the class.

Author:
Renuka Hackney


Content Area
  • Math
  • Science

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From My Garden to My Plate; That’s How I like to Eat

Activity for students to create a school garden using multiple academic disciplines

For so many of our students, they have little knowledge about how the food they eats gets to their lunch plate. Students will spend time in investigating, planning, designing, creating, and evaluating a school site garden.

By understanding the basic needs to plant growth, students will be able to investigate which plants would grow best in the soil on their school site. After a hypothesis has been formed, students will plan the materials needed and what type of garden they would like to host.

Designing the school garden will require Math, ELA, and Science skills with Scientific Method being used as a foundation. Students will create a school garden as a result of the work they preloaded into the activity. Finally, students will decide if the school garden has an improvements needed for future growth or more growth.

Author:
Nathosha Brinkley


Content Area
  • Agriculture
  • Science

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The Little Stuff Can Make a Big Difference

Nanotechnology is the next major scientific breakthrough. The development of nanotechnology is extremely promising, but there are unknown risks associated with utilizing nanotechnology. Nanoparticles occur naturally in our environment. Pollen, viruses, and ash are examples of nanoparticles that affect our environment and our health. Scientists have studied the behavior of these nanoparticles in an effort to develop nanotechnology to solve issues associated with our environment and our health.

In this project, students will explore innovative science, technology, engineering, math techniques and equipment that demonstrated the multiple uses and importance of nanotechnology.

Author:
Jevar Bransome


Content Area
  • Earth Science

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Lesson 2: Absorbance Curves: Using spectrophotometers to quantize the effects of a strong acid on a buffer

Chemical kinetics and buffers are two topics that are extremely difficult for students to understand. Combining the two topics will allow for a staggered, repetitive approach to teaching students to understand of how these two topics in chemistry actually work. Students will both qualitatively and quantitatively track the effect and enzyme has on a reaction, calculate the reaction rate and buffer capacity. Students will use a variety of lab techniques including calculations using Beer’s Law and spectrophotometry.

Author: Chris England


Content Area
  • Chemistry
  • Science

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Lessons 1: Qualitative Kinetics: Examining the effect of an enzyme on a reaction

Chemical kinetics and buffers are two topics that are extremely difficult for students to understand. Combining the two topics will allow for a staggered, repetitive approach to teaching students to understand of how these two topics in chemistry actually work. Students will both qualitatively and quantitatively track the effect and enzyme has on a reaction, calculate the reaction rate and buffer capacity. Students will use a variety of lab techniques including calculations using Beer’s Law and spectrophotometry.

Author: Chris England


Content Area
  • Chemistry
  • Science

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