Students explore the interface between architecture and engineering. In the associated hands-on activity, students act as both architects and engineers by designing and building a small parking garage.
As an introduction to bioengineering, student teams are given the engineering challenge to design and build prototype artificial limbs using a simple syringe system and limited resources. As part of a NASA lunar mission scenario, they determine which substance, water (liquid) or air (gas), makes the appendages more efficient.
Students design and build a model city powered by the sun! They learn about the benefits of solar power, and how architectural and building engineers integrate photovoltaic panels into the design of buildings.
The difference between an architect and an engineer is sometimes confusing because their roles in building design can be similar. Students experience a bit of both professions by following a set of requirements and meeting given constraints as they create a model parking garage. They experience the engineering design process first-hand as they design, build and test their models. They draw a blueprint for their design, select the construction materials and budget their expenditures. They also test their structures for strength and find their maximum loads.
Students practice the ability to produce clear, complete, accurate and detailed design drawings through an engineering design challenge. Using only the specified materials, teams are challenged to draw a design for a wind-powered car. Then, they trade engineering drawings with another group and attempt to construct the model cars in order to determine how successfully the original design intentions were communicated through sketches, dimensions and instructions.
Challenged with a hypothetical engineering work situation in which they need to figure out the volume and surface area of a nuclear power plant’s cooling tower (a hyperbolic shape), students learn to calculate the volume of complex solids that can be classified as solids of revolution or solids with known cross sections. These objects of complex shape defy standard procedures to compute volumes. Even calculus techniques depend on the ability to perform multiple measurements of the objects or find functional descriptions of their edges. During both guided and independent practice, students use (free GeoGebra) geometry software, a photograph of the object, a known dimension of it, a spreadsheet application and integral calculus techniques to calculate the volume of complex shape solids within a margin of error of less than 5%—an approach that can be used to compute the volumes of big or small objects. This activity is suitable for the end of the second semester of AP Calculus classes, serving as a major grade for the last six-week period, with students’ project results presentation grades used as the second semester final test.