A farmer in Africa is having problems with elephants eating her corn and cotton crops. As a wildlife biologist, students learn about animal group behavior and relationships of elephants and humans with bees. Students collect data from the farm and elephants to hypothesize and test solutions that will protect the crops without hurting the elephants.
STEM Case Animal Group Behavior
Use a dynamic triangle to explore the area of a triangle. With the help of an animation, see that any triangle is always half of a parallelogram (with the same base and height). Likewise, a similar animation shows the connection between parallelograms and rectangles.
Area of Triangles
Make a biconditional statement from a given definition using word tiles. Use both symbolic form and standard English form.
Construct a box-and-whisker plot to match a line plots, and construct a line plot to match a box-and-whisker plots. Manipulate the line plot and examine how the box-and-whisker plot changes. Then manipulate the box-and-whisker plot and examine how the line plot changes.
In 1915, Alfred Wegener proposed that all of Earth's continents were once joined in an ancient supercontinent he called Pangaea. Wegener's idea of moving continents led to the modern theory of plate tectonics. Create your own version of Pangaea by fitting Earth's landmasses together like puzzle pieces. Use evidence from fossils, rocks, and glaciers to refine your map.
You are the captain of an interplanetary cargo ship, delivering important supplies to the outer planets. The cargo can be stored in barrels, crates, and holds. (There are 10 barrels in a crate, and 10 crates in a hold.) Model multi-digit subtraction by unloading cargo on each planet.
Cargo Captain (Multi-digit Subtraction)
Begin with a single cell and watch as mitosis and cell division occurs. The cells will go through the steps of interphase, prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase, and cytokinesis. The length of the cell cycle can be controlled, and data related to the number of cells present and their current phase can be recorded.
Use groups of critters on leaves to model multiplication as repeated addition. Change the expression to change the number of groups or the number of critters per group. Display the critters either on leaves or as a rectangular array.
Critter Count (Modeling Multiplication)
Design a car to protect a test dummy in a collision. Adjust the length and stiffness of the crumple zone and the rigidity of the safety cell to determine how the car will deform during the crash. Add seat belts and/or airbags to prevent the dummy from hitting the steering wheel. Three different body types (sedan, SUV, and subcompact) are available and a wide range of crash speeds can be used.
Observe the spread of a disease through a group of students. The disease is spread by either person-to-person contact or food. Adjust the number of people in the space, the probability of transmission, and whether students are wearing masks. Determine the factors that control how quickly the disease spreads for each disease.
A drug prescription must be carefully planned to maximize benefit while avoiding an overdose. In this Gizmo, you can give a patient one or more pills and monitor the levels of medication in the body through time. Based on the reaction of the patient, determine the ideal levels of medication. Create a dosage schedule so these levels are maintained through time. Four types of pills, each with a different release pattern and target organ, are available for use.
Design a house to withstand an earthquake and protect the people living inside. Select a location in San Francisco, then choose the design and materials for a foundation, frame, walls, and roof. Decide which extras to add to your home design. Test each house in an earthquake and assess the damages. Try to arrive at a house design that results in the least damage.
Compare the equation of an ellipse to its graph. Vary the terms of the equation of the ellipse and examine how the graph changes in response. Drag the vertices and foci, explore their Pythagorean relationship, and discover the string property.
Once light enters the eye, it must be focused on the retina. Manipulate the pupil diameter to regulate the amount of light that enters then eye, then change the lens shape to focus light. Determine the changes in lens shape needed to maintain focus as the object distance changes. This is a followup to the Eyes and Vision 1 - Seeing Colors lesson.
Eyes and Vision 2 - Focusing Light
Grow Wisconsin Fast Plants® in a simulated lab environment. Explore the life cycles of these plants and how their growth is influenced by light, water, and crowding. Practice pollinating the plants using bee sticks, then observe the traits of the offspring plants. Use Punnett squares to model the inheritance of genes for stem color and leaf color for these plants.
Fast Plants® 1 - Growth and Genetics
In this follow-up to Fast Plants® 1 - Growth and Genetics, continue to explore inheritance of traits in Wisconsin Fast Plants. Infer the genotype of a "mystery P2 parent" of a set of Fast Plants based on the traits of the P1, F1, and F2 plants. Then create designer Fast Plants by selectively breeding plants with desired traits.
Fast Plants® 2 - Mystery Parent
Build a home to survive a flood or a hurricane and protect the people inside. Choose materials and a design for the foundation, frame, walls, and roof of the house. Add "extras" such as sand bags, storm shutters, and roof clips. Test your house in a flood or storm and see how well your design worked.
Flood and Storm-Proof Homes
Extend understanding of fractions by making modern paintings in the style of Piet Mondrian. Create and analyze paintings with different-sized sections. Compare the sizes of unit fractions. Find creative ways to color one-half of a painting. This can be a nice introduction to adding fractions with unlike denominators.
Fraction Artist 2 (Area Models of Fractions)
Investigate the growth of three common garden plants: tomatoes, beans, and turnips. You can change the amount of light each plant gets, the amount of water added each day, and the type of soil the seed is planted in. Observe the effect of each variable on plant height, plant mass, leaf color and leaf size. Determine what conditions produce the tallest and healthiest plants. Height and mass data are displayed on tables and graphs.
Investigate the decay of a radioactive substance. The half-life and the number of radioactive atoms can be adjusted, and theoretical or random decay can be observed. Data can be interpreted visually using a dynamic graph, a bar chart, and a table. Determine the half-lives of two sample isotopes as well as samples with randomly generated half-lives.
Create aliens with different traits and breed them to produce offspring. Determine which traits are passed down from parents to offspring and which traits are acquired. Offspring can be stored for future experiments or released.
Use the graph of the feasible region to find the maximum or minimum value of the objective function. Vary the coefficients of the objective function and vary the constraints. Explore how the graph of the feasible region changes in response.
As a geneticist in an animal hospital, students learn about genetic changes in meiosis to determine the reason why a male cat can have calico fur coloring.
STEM Case Meowsis
Breed "pure" mice with known genotypes that exhibit specific fur and eye colors, and learn how traits are passed on via dominant and recessive genes. Mice can be stored in cages for future breeding, and the statistics of fur and eye color are reported every time a pair of mice breed. Punnett squares can be used to predict results.
Mouse Genetics (Two Traits)
Movie reviewers rate movies on a scale of 0 to 10. Each movie comes with a set of reviews that can be changed by the user. The mean of a data set can be explored using a see-saw balance model. Students can also find the median, mode, and range of the data set.
Movie Reviewer (Mean and Median)
Explore number systems and convert numbers from one base to another using counter beads in place-value columns.
Develop an understanding of ocean tides by comparing the depth of water near a dock to the positions of the Moon, Sun, and Earth. Determine the influence of the Moon and Sun on tides, and compare spring tides to neap tides.
Explore the relationship between molecular motion, temperature, and phase changes. Compare the molecular structure of solids, liquids, and gases. Graph temperature changes as ice is melted and water is boiled. Find the effect of altitude on phase changes. The starting temperature, ice volume, altitude, and rate of heating or cooling can be adjusted.
Compare sample distributions drawn from population distributions. Predict characteristics of a population distribution based on a sample distribution and examine how well a small sample represents a given population.
Populations and Samples
Participate in an old-fashioned quilting bee and create a colorful, symmetrical quilt. Quilts can be created with a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line of symmetry. Quilts can be folded to look for reflections, or rotated to test for rotational symmetry.
Quilting Bee (Symmetry)
Observe light rays that pass through a convex or concave lens. Manipulate the position of an object and the focal length of the lens and measure the distance and size of the resulting image.
Ray Tracing (Lenses)
Observe light rays that reflect from a convex or concave mirror. Manipulate the position of an object and the focal length of the mirror and measure the distance and size of the resulting image.
Ray Tracing (Mirrors)
Plan a cross-country road trip through various U.S. state capitals. First choose a vehicle to drive, and then fill up the tank with gas and go! Find the range and gas mileage of each vehicle, and discover the shortest path between two cities.
Road Trip (Problem Solving)
Explore the slope of a line, and learn how to calculate slope. Adjust the line by moving points that are on the line, and see how its slope changes.
Explore the meaning of square roots using an area model. Use the side length of a square to find the square root of a decimal number or a whole number.
Vary the coefficients in the equation of a function and examine how the graph of the function is translated or scaled. Select different functions to translate and scale, and determine what they have in common.
Translating and Scaling Functions