Lesson Plans

Physics of the Jet Engine

Jet engines are commonly used to transport people and materials all over the world either by air- or water- craft in an efficient manner. They are also used for propelling land vehicles to pass the speed of sound. The purpose of this lesson is to provide a real-world example of utilizing the physics learned in class to understand the theory of operation of such an important device.

This lesson will provide an opportunity for students to conduct their own analysis of a jet engine, and then report their findings to their colleagues (the class). Students will apply their knowledge of Newton’s 2nd and 3rd laws to study how a jet engine imparts motion to an object and what key variables are needed to determine a jet engine’s performance.

Curriculum Author:

Jeffrey P. LaCosse


Content Area
  • Physics
  • Science

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Proto-ZOO-ology: A Problem-Based Protist Inquiry Unit Lesson 1: A Protist Protest

Protists are used easily to examine classification systems, population diversity, life-sustaining processes, stimulus/response in the environment, and many other “big” concepts that are repeated when studying larger, more complex organisms. A strong foundation in these concepts at the unicellular level will improve student understanding throughout the life science/biology learning progression.

The conceptual lens used throughout this unit is the student development of a zoo exhibit for protists. Lesson 1 specifically addresses the six characteristics of all living organisms, as AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) assessment data indicates that only 50-53% of middle school students correctly identify that all cells/organisms have life-sustaining characteristics in common.

Curriculum Author:

Cate Colangelo


Content Area
  • Science

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Proto-ZOO-ology: A Problem-Based Protist Inquiry Unit Lesson 1: A Protist Protest

Protists are used easily to examine classification systems, population diversity, life-sustaining processes, stimulus/response in the environment, and many other “big” concepts that are repeated when studying larger, more complex organisms. A strong foundation in these concepts at the unicellular level will improve student understanding throughout the life science/biology learning progression.

The conceptual lens used throughout this unit is the student development of a zoo exhibit for protists. Lesson 1 specifically addresses the six characteristics of all living organisms, as AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) assessment data indicates that only 50-53% of middle school students correctly identify that all cells/organisms have life-sustaining characteristics in common.

Curriculum Author:

Cate Colangelo


Content Area
  • Science

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A Day in the Life: Exploring Biomanufacturing Careers

Students will explore the different careers found in Biomanufacturing by conducting a series of experiments that mimic the day to day operations found in industry. Students will use yeast cells as the basis the labs. They will conduct microbiology-type experiments by growing some of the yeast cells on petri dishes and examining the number of cells that grow both on the plates and under the microscope. Next, students will grow yeast cells in a similar fashion to what is seen in large-scale bioreactors. They will analyze the results of the experiment by applying computer skills to create graphs and charts of their results. In addition, Students will also design a filtration apparatus that will separate the cells from the product they are producing and calculate the yield percentage. These activities can be used as part of a microbiology or biochemistry unit or as an introduction to biotechnology.

Curriculum Author:

Lori Stroud


Content Area
  • Biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Science

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Engineering Skills through Problem Based Learning

This unit uses roller coaster design as a method of teaching students about energy types, energy conservation, and the design process. At the end of this Unit, students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills should be strengthened.

Curriculum Author:

Miriam Morgan


Content Area
  • Math

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A Mathematical Model to Describe Fluid Behavior

Kenan Fellow Jenny Rucker, working with faculty from the Department of Mathematics at the University of North Carolina, is creating activities to teach middle school students how to use math to model and predict natural phenomena. Through hands-on, inquiry-based labs, seventh and eighth grade students will explore the behavior and effects of fluid in and around objects and organisms. Students will investigate and create fluid transport systems and gather data to calculate natural frequencies. Using scale models to gain a better understanding, they will use data to predict real-life effects on trees and other structures.

Curriculum Author:

Jenny Rucker


Content Area
  • Math

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Ecology of the Savanna-Forest Boundaries in Central Brazil

The project with Dr. Hoffmann was a wonderful opportunity to bring real data from the Brazilian forest and savanna back into my classroom for a global learning opportunity on data collection, biomes, adaptations, photosynthesis, and transpiration. I am thankful to have such a wonderful opportunity where I can collaborate with Dr. Hoffmann and his team of scientists to transform current science discoveries into the North Carolina Standard Course of Study to benefit my 6th grade Science classroom.

Curriculum Author:

Anna Miller


Content Area
  • Environmental Science

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Literacy Strategies for the Science Classroom

Every day across our state high school teachers enter their classrooms and give everything they have to their students and subject. Their focus has been on teaching specific content, sometimes in isolation, to students who were unable to connect that subject to their lives. They either lacked the vocabulary or the background knowledge to see the relevance of the subject taught to their world.

Curriculum Author:

Jeffrey Edwards


Content Area
  • Science

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Understanding Data Mining

Students learn basic data analysis tools and techniques in AP Statistics, but often don’t work with large sets of real-world data. This project gives students exposure to how data is analyzed in many of America’s top corporations, universities and banks. By using multiple input variables, students learn how to develop realistic prediction models for the demand for goods and services.

Curriculum Author:

Celia Rowland


Content Area
  • Math

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Wetland Ecology Insight through Field and Laboratory Study

Aquatic Ecology Studies: Exercises in Scientific Literacy is a collection of lessons designed primarily for earth science and biology classrooms. The lessons may be taught in a cluster as part of a water resources unit or they may be used individually to enrich any preparation with special focus on NCSCOS secondary science goal 1.05: analyze reports of investigations from an informed scientifically literate viewpoint. The aquatic ecology theme pays particular attention to aquatic environmental issues of eastern North Carolina and connects learners to authentic data and technology resources from the Center for Applied Aquatic Ecology at North Carolina State University. The lessons are created for collaborative group classrooms, promote technology integration and are formatted to enhance the development of project based learning frameworks. Diverse learning outcomes and contexts for skill development are addressed in each lesson and the overview document in depth.

Curriculum Author:

Susan Randolph, Amanda Warren


Content Area
  • Biology
  • Environmental Science

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Price Check: What is the True Cost

Did you know that it takes less than seven-seconds to decide whether you will buy most items? What influences us to make those snap decisions? Advertising? Packaging? The product? This theme unit investigated what drives consumer behaviors. Students examined often overlooked pieces of our environmental impact by analyzing the “stuff” in our lives…what we own, buy, consume, and discard. Inspired by Annie Leonard’s short film The Story of Stuff (www.storyofstuff.com), we followed the life cycle of products from extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal. We considered the hidden costs, human costs, and environmental costs of our “stuff.”

Curriculum Author:

Sonja McKay


Content Area
  • Biology
  • Environmental Science

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Scientific Inquiry of the Universe through Modern Technology

To add to the existing curriculum for teachers on how to use the resources of PARI (Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute) in the classroom. Students will learn about and utilize PARI’s 4.6m Smiley radio telescope to conduct real scientific investigations of the Universe. Online supporting podcasts, activities and quizzes will allow students to conduct first-hand inquiry driven research, thus giving personal value/ownership to the experience.

Curriculum Author:

Derek Dennis


Content Area
  • Science

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Integrating Chemistry & Algebra II

Ms. Elmo, in partnership with Dr. Lisa Bullard, NC State’s Director of Undergraduate Studies in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has created lessons that link the understanding of concepts in chemistry to skills learned in algebra II. Using systems of equations in solving problems, Ms. Elmo’s students are utilizing matrices to balance chemical reactions and direct and inverse variations. This fresh approach reinforces students’ understanding of the relationship between two disciplines that have traditionally been taught separately.

Curriculum Author:

Jennifer Elmo


Content Area
  • Chemistry
  • Math
  • Science

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Integrating Chemistry & Algebra II

Ms. Elmo, in partnership with Dr. Lisa Bullard, NC State’s Director of Undergraduate Studies in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has created lessons that link the understanding of concepts in chemistry to skills learned in algebra II. Using systems of equations in solving problems, Ms. Elmo’s students are utilizing matrices to balance chemical reactions and direct and inverse variations. This fresh approach reinforces students’ understanding of the relationship between two disciplines that have traditionally been taught separately.

Curriculum Author:

Jennifer Elmo


Content Area
  • Chemistry
  • Math
  • Science

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Forest Wildlife Management and Conservation

What has a forest done for you lately? What happens to the animals in an area once it has been timbered? Why is wood considered a renewable resource? What happens in an area once it has been timbered? These questions at first seem easy enough to answer, however on reflection they are really not so clear.

Curriculum Author:

LeRoy Humphries


Content Area
  • Biology
  • Environmental Science

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