PLTW students seating at a table sharing their work.

Instructors:

Wayne Shipley
Brooklyn Middle STEAM School
Introduction to Engineering, Design and Modeling, Automation and Robotics, Energy and the Environment, Flight and Space, Green Architecture
(763) 569-7600

Beth Romano
Brooklyn Middle STEAM School
Design and Modeling, Automation and Robotics, Energy and the Environment, Science of Technology, Medical Detective
(763) 569-7600

Mark Bruemmer
Maple Grove Middle School
Design and Modeling
(763) 315-7600

John Jacobson
North View Middle IB School
Science of Technology, Design and Modeling, Automation and Robotics, Flight and Space, Magic of Electrons
(763) 585-7200

Joel Vagle
Osseo Middle School
Design and Modeling, Automation and Robotics
(763) 391-8800

Courses:

Design and Modeling (Grade 6)

Course Description: 

Design and Modeling (DM) provides students opportunities to apply the design process to creatively solve problems. Students are introduced to the unit problem in the first activity and are asked to make connections to the problem throughout the lessons in the unit. Students learn and utilize methods for communicating design ideas through sketches, solid models and mathematical models. Students will understand how models can be simulated to represent an authentic situation and generate data for further analysis and observations. Students work in teams to identify design requirements, research the topic, and engage stakeholders. Teams design a toy or game for a child with cerebral palsy, fabricate and test it, and make necessary modifications to optimize the design solution.

Course Lesson Summary:

  • Lesson 1: Introduction to Design: Students discover the design process as they complete an instant design challenge to create an ankle foot orthosis. They learn thumbnail, orthographic, isometric, and perspective sketching as methods for communicating design ideas effectively without the use of technology. The use of a common measurement system is essential for communicating and fabricating designs. Students learn conversions between two measurement systems and apply measurement skills while dimensioning sketches. Students conduct a mechanical dissection in the lesson project to better understand how objects and parts interact while using sketches to communicate and document their findings.
  • Lesson 2: Modeling and Statistical Analysis: In this lesson, students transfer a two-dimensional representation to a three-dimensional solid model with technology. Students study basic geometric shapes within a mathematical model and use combinations of geometric primitives to form more complex shapes. During the design project, students work in teams and apply the design process to create a puzzle cube. Students create a solid model using a computer-aided design (CAD) application and fabricate their design solution for testing. Students use a dynamic mathematics program to complete statistical analysis from their testing results to determine if their design met the criteria and constraints.
  • Lesson 3: Design Challenge: Students use a simulation to better understand cerebral palsy prior to beginning their Therapeutic Toy Design Challenge. Within teams, students brainstorm and select a design solution to the problem based on design requirements. They establish team norms, collaborate, and recognize that solving authentic problems involves interdisciplinary skills such as engineering, biomedical science, and computer science skills. Using the design process, students create a solid model of their design, build a prototype for design testing, and make necessary design modifications based on testing results.

Course Prerequisites: None

Automation & Robotics (Grade 6)

Course Description:

Design, build and program a robot! Students use tools such as the engineering design process, an engineering notebook, and VEX Robotics® programming software to invent and innovate. Learn how creative thinking and problem solving can change your world! Automation and robotics (AR) allows students to trace the history, development, and influence of automation and robotics as they learn about mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. Students use the VEX Robotics® platform to design, build and program real-world objects such as traffic lights, toll booths and robotic arms.

Course Lesson Summary:

  • Lesson 1: What Is Automation and Robotics?: The field of automation and robotics includes computer-controlled machines used to make manufacturing more efficient, productive and safe. Robots are also used as assistive tools for people with disabilities and as equipment in hospitals to help with surgery, deliver food or dispense medications. Robots are becoming popular household helpers, performing chores like vacuuming and mowing lawns. Scientists say that future generation robots will be able to clean up, take out the trash, or even care for an elderly parent. In this unit students will learn how automation and robotics affect everyday life both positively and negatively, including safety, comfort, choices, and attitudes about a technology’s development and use.
  • Lesson 2: Mechanical Systems: Think about a bicycle, an eggbeater, a sewing machine, a hand-cranked drill and a workshop vice. What do they have in common? All of them have at least one mechanism that provides movement. If the devices were taken apart, you would find a series of gears that redirect the applied force so they can accomplish their tasks. The activities in this lesson will introduce the students to several mechanisms that are used to change speed, torque, force, type of movement and direction of movement. These mechanisms have been developed over time to address the need for changes in machine tools, robots, automobiles, airplanes, etc.
  • Lesson 3: Automated Systems: Computer programs and sensing devices provide feedback to guide tools and machines in the manufacturing of parts. Automated systems can be used to pick up a part, move it to a certain location, wait for a process to be performed, pick it back up, and deliver it to an offloading location. Upon completion of this lesson, students will have a better understanding of the necessary components of a flexible manufacturing system and the programming necessary for communication between the sensors, motors and building components.

Course Prerequisites: None

Science of Technology (Grade 6)

Course Description:

Creamier ice cream, stain-resistant clothing, and solar powered vehicles... Students use tools such as the engineering design process, an engineering notebook, computer simulations, and prototyping materials to invent and innovate. Learn how creative thinking and problem solving can change your world! In the Science of Technology (ST) unit, students explore how science impacts the technology of yesterday, today and the future. Students apply the concepts of physics, chemistry and nanotechnology to STEM activities and projects, including making ice cream, cleaning up an oil spill, and discovering the properties of nanomaterials.

Course Lesson Summary:

  • Lesson 1: Applied Chemistry: Chemical engineering is the profession that combines chemistry and engineering concepts to help solve problems related to world hunger, pollution of our environment, creating new materials, or meeting demands for energy. Chemical engineers are instrumental in the production of virtually all pharmaceuticals as well as life-saving devices such as the artificial kidney or angioplasty catheters. They are working on ways to recycle plastics, reduce pollution and develop new sources of environmentally clean energy. Chemical engineers have the background knowledge of chemistry coupled with an understanding of chemical processing that allows them to tackle most any chemical problem, from waste minimization, to environmental remediation, to pollution prevention, to cleanup of stack gases, to purification of drinking water. Most major chemical companies hire chemical engineers to fill their technical positions in environmental engineering. In this unit students will explore the chemistry behind making ice cream, creating adhesives and cleaning up an oil spill.
  • Lesson 2: Nanotechnology: Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary field of discovery. Scientists and engineers working in physics, chemistry, biology, information technology, metrology and other fields are contributing to today’s research breakthroughs. The worldwide workforce necessary to support the field of nanotechnology is estimated at 2 million by 2015. In this lesson students will be introduced to the many facets of nanotechnology, and they will explore nanomaterials and their application.
  • Lesson 3: Applied Physics: Throughout the ages humans have sought to make life easier through innovation and invention. At the beginning of civilization, hand tools were used exclusively. These hand tools were comprised of one or more of the six simple machines: lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge, and inclined plane. Modern machines that are run by electricity have many of their moving parts based on these simple machines. This lesson will provide students with an understanding of machines and how they are used to create motion. This understanding will prepare students to analyze and improve the mechanisms society uses today                     

Course Prerequisites: None

Magic of Electrons (Grade 7)

Course Description:

How do electricity and electronics affect my life? Students use tools such as the engineering design process, an engineering notebook, computer simulations, and circuit design prototyping materials to invent and innovate. Learn how creative thinking and problem solving can change your world! Through hands-on projects, students explore electricity, the behavior and parts of atoms, and sensing devices in the Magic of Electrons (ME) unit. They learn knowledge and skills in basic circuitry design and examine the impact of electricity on the world around them.

 

Course Lesson Summary:

  • Lesson 1: What Is Electricity: This lesson is an introduction to basic electricity. It is assumed that students have no prior exposure to the concepts addressed. The power provided through electricity is a part of their everyday lives, but they may or may not have considered where it comes from, why it works or how it is produced and transmitted. Few students could imagine life without it. They might consider something like a camping trip to be life without electricity. Upon further investigation, though, they would discover the role of electricity in preparing for the trip and in the materials they might pack.
  • Lesson 2: Electronics: This lesson is an overview and introduction to basic electronics and circuits with a focus on some of the most basic devices and their functions. Students will be introduced to electrical circuit diagrams and asked to create them. In this lesson students will observe how the electron flow merges with technology through electronic circuits. Almost any device that uses electricity can be broken down into basic electronic circuits and the electronic devices in those circuits.
  • Lesson 3: Digital Electronics: This lesson introduces students to the digital world of cell phones, computers, MP3 devices, and many other modern conveniences that rely on binary numbers, the 0s and 1s of the digital realm, to function. This is an exciting field for students to consider because it is ever-changing. An understanding of the components and their functions opens the door for limitless creative ideas to design improved devices that can entertain or save lives

Course Prerequisites: None

Flight and Space (Grade 8)

Course Description:

A vacation on the moon? Students use tools such as the engineering design process, an engineering notebook, and computer simulations to explore, invent and innovate. Learn how creative thinking and problem solving can change your world! The exciting world of aerospace comes alive through the Flight and Space (FS) unit. Students explore the science behind aeronautics and use their knowledge to design, prototype and test model rocket fuel and a glider. Custom built simulation software allows students to experience space travel.

Course Lesson Summary:

  • Lesson 1: History of Flight and Space: The study of aerospace engineering would not be complete without a basic understanding of the history of aerospace. Many students think that the space shuttle can go to the moon. Some even think people have been to Mars. These misconceptions are often the result of watching science fiction movies or television programs that look real to students. In this lesson students will be introduced to the history of flight through hands-on activities, research and a presentation in the form of an infomercial.
  • Lesson 2: Aeronautics: Aeronautics is the science and art of flying through the air. It refers to all aspects of flight in the atmosphere, from design and manufacturing to operation and maintenance of aircraft and spacecraft. To design an aircraft or spacecraft, engineers must understand the elements of aerodynamics, propulsion, materials and structures, and stability and control. In this lesson students will be exposed to all of these elements as they discover the science of flying, design and test propulsion systems, use simulations to create airfoils to test in a wind tunnel, and then use their knowledge to design, build and test an airfoil.
  • Lesson 3: Traveling and Living in Space: The layer of gases from surface up to about 100 miles above the Earth is known as the atmosphere. Space is the region above the Earth’s atmosphere or beyond the solar system. Space travel and living in space is made possible by engineers, from mechanical engineers who design the components for spacecraft to biomedical engineers who design ways to care for astronauts’ health while traveling in space. From designing the spacecraft, to getting us to the moon safely, to building tools to help humans live on the moon some day, engineers play a vital role in space travel, space discovery and living in space. In this unit students will experience space travel and spacecraft innovation through an interactive simulation.

 Course Prerequisites: None

Energy and Environment (Grade 7)

Course Description:

Clean water, clean air, a sustainable world! Students use tools such as the engineering design process, an engineering notebook, and alternative energy modeling to invent and innovate. Learn how creative thinking and problem solving can change your world! In the Energy and the Environment Unit (EE), students are challenged to think big and look toward the future as they explore sustainable solutions to our energy needs and investigate the impact of energy on our lives and the world. They design and model alternative energy sources and evaluate options for reducing energy consumption.

Course Lesson Summary:

  • Lesson 1: Investigating Energy: The use and production of energy is important in everyone’s life. It is also important to consider ways to reduce our impact on the environment when using energy to heat our buildings, to power modes of transportation, or to operate electrical appliances. The development of alternative energy systems is a recent innovation where energy is generated from inexhaustible energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower, and renewable energy sources like biomass. These systems have the advantage of generating power with virtually zero carbon emissions. In this lesson students will explore the challenge we face to economically harness, store and deliver these sources of energy.
  • Lesson 2: Sustainable Energy: Many events across the globe over the last several years have reinforced the need to restructure both our use of energy and the source of our energy on a global basis. Stop and consider the effects on energy that these events have caused: population growth, economic growth in China and India, conflicts in the Middle East, global climate change, and natural disasters. We must implement innovative solutions to promote energy security and alternatives to fossil fuels. While meeting the increasing demand for energy, we also need to consider minimizing the environmental impact. In this unit students will present an alternative solution for a global energy problem.
  • Lesson 3: Making an Impact: Energy saved is energy gained for another day. Saving energy will cut down on pollution and help our fossil fuels last longer, hopefully until renewable energy sources become more practical. Finding a way to do more with less is a benefit to everyone. Students can actively participate in energy conservation through a variety of measures including turning off lights when they leave a room, turning up the thermostat a few degrees on very hot days, turning down the thermostat on cold days, closing windows and doors during temperature extremes, reducing water usage, and ensuring that plug-in chargers are unplugged when not in use. Students need to realize that each and every one of us does make a difference. The solution to energy problems will be solved by individuals.

Course Prerequisites: None

Green Architecture (Varies)

Course Description:

Design a house out of a shipping container? Students use tools such as the engineering design process, an engineering notebook, and Autodesk® Revit® software to invent and innovate. Learn how creative thinking and problem solving can change your world! Today’s students have grown up in an age of “green” choices. In the Green Architecture (GA) unit, students learn how to apply this concept to the fields of architecture and construction by exploring dimensioning, measuring, and architectural sustainability as they design affordable housing units using Autodesk® 123D® Design software

Course Lesson Summary:

  • Lesson 1: Architectural Basics: Architecture is the art and science of designing buildings. The basics of architectural design usually address feasibility and cost, as well as function and aesthetics. In this lesson students will learn how to use an architectural scale to accurately measure drawings and read architectural plans. They will learn about planning residential spaces, the different systems in a home, how to read the symbols found in architectural plans, and how to choose materials to remain within a given budget.
  • Lesson 2: Introduction to Sustainable Architecture: As consumers we are often confronted with lifestyle decisions that could have an impact on our environment. Over the last several years, a lot of emphasis has been placed on going green. In addition to encouraging individuals to change their habits so that the results will be more environmentally friendly, there has also been a push to design buildings to be more green. Sustainable architecture seeks to minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings by enhancing efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, and development space. The goal of sustainability, or ecological design, is to ensure that our actions and decisions today do not inhibit the opportunities of future generations. In this lesson students will become aware of the global challenges of resource depletion and environmental degradation resulting from development and the positive effects of sustainable architecture.
  • Lesson 3: Architectural Challenge: Autodesk® Revit® Architecture building design software works the way that architects and designers think, which allows the user to develop high-quality, accurate architectural designs. It allows the user to design with both parametric 3D modeling and 2D drafting elements. Built for Building Information Modeling (BIM), Autodesk® Revit® software helps capture and analyze concepts and maintain vision through design, documentation and construction. In this lesson students will build a wall for a wood framed shed and test insulation materials. They will use the Autodesk® Revit® software to design a sustainable home using shipping containers.

Course Prerequisites: None

Medical Detective (Varies)

Course Description:

Solve medical mysteries by performing a brain dissection and conducting crime scene investigations! Students use tools such as the engineering design process, an engineering notebook, and electrophoresis to solve a murder. Learn how creative thinking and problem solving can change your world! In the Medical Detectives (MD) unit, students play the role of real-life medical detectives as they analyze genetic testing results to diagnose disease and study DNA evidence found at a “crime scene.” They solve medical mysteries through hands-on projects and labs, investigate how to measure and interpret vital signs, and learn how the systems of the human body work together to maintain health.

Course Lesson Summary:

  • Lesson 1: What Is a Medical Detective?: Students will discover how health care professionals act as medical detectives in identifying, treating and preventing injury and illness in their patients. Students examine patient medical histories and investigate how these histories guide medical detectives to the correct diagnosis and treatment of a particular illness. Students also investigate and collect vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. Finally, students research pathogens involved in foodborne illness and act as medical detectives in diagnosing and proposing a treatment plan for a patient with a mystery illness.
  • Lesson 2: Mysteries of the Human Body System: This lesson introduces the human body as a compilation of body systems. Students investigate the nervous system, including brain anatomy and physiology. A mysterious illness prompts the students to explore the role of genetics in disease. Students investigate how mutations in DNA can cause disease and learn how genetic diseases are passed through families.
  • Lesson 3: Murder Mystery: This lesson begins with a murder victim found in an elevator and immerses the students in the world of crime scene investigators, medical examiners and pathologists. Students have the opportunity to work through a virtual autopsy and explore how a suspect may be identified through DNA analysis in the process of solving the crime.

Course Prerequisites: None

Future Courses:

App Creators

This unit will expose students to computer science by computationally analyzing and developing solutions to authentic problems through mobile app development, and will convey the positive impact of the application of computer science to other disciplines and to society. Students will customize their experience by choosing a problem that interests them from the areas of health, environment, emergency preparedness, education, community service, and school culture. Because problems in the real world involve more than one discipline, the unit will introduce students to biomedical science concepts as they work on solutions for the specific problems they choose to tackle.

Computer Science for Innovators and Makers

This unit will allow students to discover computer science concepts and skills by creating personally relevant, tangible and shareable projects. Throughout the unit, students will learn about programming for the physical world by blending hardware design and software development. They will design and develop a physical computing device, interactive art installation or wearable, and plan and develop code for microcontrollers that bring their physical designs to life. Physical computing projects will promote student awareness of interactive systems, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and broaden their understanding of abstract computer science concepts through meaningful and authentic applications.

Contact

Jeremy Willey
Director
763.391.7148