On January 26th, 36 fifth and sixth grade students from the Mary Lyon K-8 School came to Northeastern University for a field trip on solar panels, wind turbines, and a visit to the earthquake lab.
In the morning, the students were split into two groups. One group worked on solar panels, in which they received an overview of renewable energy sources and how solar electricity can be generated, stored, and utilized. Then, they built their own cardboard ‘homes’ with solar panels, which were placed under a bright flood-lamp and students used various materials in conjunction with the solar panel to observe any increases in effectiveness.
The other group had the chance to learn about civil engineering by visiting the earthquake shake table. After an introduction into building design and earthquake effects, the students broke into small groups and worked with K’NEX pieces to create a structure that would withstand the highest earthquake simulation possible. After the structures were tested to failure, students took turns standing on the shake table to get a feel for what it is like to be in the middle of a mild earthquake.
In the afternoon, the students engaged in a wind turbine activity. In short, they created blades to maximize the efficiency of their turbines. The blades are fit to the Center for STEM Education’s wind turbines, which are used to either generate electricity via a motor, or lift a weight (box of crayons) via a drive shaft. Students will design their turbines with the engineering design process in mind. They will need to brainstorm their ideas and make decisions based on observation and analysis.