Engineering Outreach

In July 2012 I became the Director of Outreach for our department.  Prior to this I have worked on the development of two engineering activities related to Grade 11 high-school physics, and specifically the unit on electricity and magnetism.  A guiding principle in our outreach efforts is to provide students with an experience in engineering while they learn about a fundamental scientific concept.

Below is a collection of the resources related to these activities along with a description of plans for our future outreach efforts and collaborative programs and organizations.

  • DC Motor Activity (Grade 11 Physics - Electricity and Magnetism - Magnetic Forces and the Motor Principle) 
This activity introduces students to the motor principle by first discussing the basics of the magnetic force on a current-carrying wire.  The students are then asked to consider the practical requirements of a real motor and thus the need of communtation (i.e., how can the motor principle be "engineered", or applied, to create a useful device).  The students are then asked to build their own DC motor using a simple set of supplies (all described in the handout).  Finally, the connection is made to the electric generator with the realization that the structure of the generator is exactly the same as the motor, just the input is different (mechanical energy in, rather than electrical energy).

This activity has been presented at four local conferences, The Ontario Association of Physics Teachers (OAPT) Annual Conference 2011 and 2012, and The Science Teachers Association of Ontario (STAO) 2011 and 2012.

Notes and workshop slides to be posted soon
  • Electromagnetic Flashlight Activity (Grade 11 Physics - Electricity and Magnetism - Faraday's and Lenz's Laws) 
This activity is focused around the challenging concepts of Faraday's and Lenz's laws, while providing the students with an engineering application of these laws.  Using a modified electromagnetic flashlight and a simple circuit board, the students first "discover" Faraday's law and then have to consider how this can be applied to create a usable flashlight (i.e., the electrical energy generated must be stored.)  The exercise is completed by realizing that Lenz's law is closely related to the principle of conservation of energy.

Notes and workshop slides to be posted soon

Last modified June 2012