Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 2.04.10 PM

New resources to celebrate National Biomechanics Day and National DNA Day

Exciting things in STEM are happening this month! April celebrates two days dedicated to fascinating subjects – National DNA Day and National Biomechanics Day.

To help you celebrate and explore these concepts, we’ve put together guides on Biomechanics and DNA. Each topic has an educator guide and a student guide. The educator guides include some facilitation tips for related design challenges, along with a quick content refresher or deeper dive into the concepts being explored. The student guide helps students understand the concepts, and guides them to build and test the prototype, with room for students to document their steps as well. The student guide also includes open-ended questions to encourage reflection.

More details about each challenge and unit below!


National Biomechanics Day

National Biomechanics Day is April 7 and we’re joining in the celebration to encourage students everywhere to jump into the study of the materials that make up our bodies, and how those materials affect how we move.

Biomechanics ​is the study of movement in living things. Biomechanics can answer questions like :why does a cat always land on its feet when it falls?” or “how do your muscles allow you to jump up high in a game of basketball?”. Biomechanics helps us understand how muscles make forces that help us move our bodies in different ways.

To explore the forces of motion, we developed a new design challenge to build a vertical jumping machine. This challenge is inspired by a Biomechanics professor who uses biomechanics to help athletes perform better. Builders are challenged to design and build a machine that can jump at least 3 feet straight into the air, using materials like paper cups and elastic bands. The challenge explores potential and kinetic energy and how to transfer potential energy into kinetic energy as possible.

See the Vertical Jumping Machine Challenge here

The teacher guide includes definitions, suggested demonstrations, and some facilitation pointers. The student guide includes spaces for students to illustrate their work and answer open-ended questions to encourage reflection and deeper exploration of the physics concepts at hand. You can download both guides from the design challenge page by navigating to “Guide” in the upper left-hand corner, and downloading the guides listed beneath the “resources” heading. Be sure to navigate to the “Learn More” section of the Guide pop-up for additional content.

You can also download the guides here, but we recommend exploring the Design Challenge page prior to building:

  • Teacher Guide: Guide that can be used to teach this design challenge, and a deeper dive into the concepts that are being used.
  • Student Guide: Guide to help students understand the concepts behind the design challenge and to build and test the prototype. Also includes open-ended questions and long form questions.

 

National DNA Day

National DNA Day is April 25, 2016! The day commemorates the completion of the Human Genome project in 2003, and is a great jumping off point to explore genetics. One of our newest design challenges asks you to build a structure inspired by DNA Origami.

This design challenge was created by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Material Science undergraduate students who did some research on DNA origami. DNA origami is a type of nanotechnology that allows scientists to take advantage of the properties of DNA to create structures that fold into intricate shapes—just like origami! These DNA structures can be used to develop drug delivery systems to help medications reach its target areas more efficiently. To help explain how this process works, Iridescent interviewed Xing Wang, a professor at RPI who studies DNA nanostructures. Professor Wang’s research involves developing drug delivery systems and understanding how DNA folding plays a role in the processes of living organisms.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 2.04.10 PM

See the DNA origami design challenge here.

The goal of the design challenge is to create a container out of pasta and pipe cleaners that can carry a cargo–in this case, candy! The pasta acts as short staple DNA strands and the pipe cleaners are long scaffold DNA strands.

The container that you build out of them needs to be strong enough and secure enough to carry cargo along a zipline. This hands-on activity is based on DNA nanostructures developed to hold drugs and deliver it once it reaches its destination.

The teacher guide includes definitions, suggested demonstrations, and some facilitation pointers. The student guide includes spaces for students to illustrate their work and answer open-ended questions to encourage reflection and deeper exploration of the physics concepts at hand.

To access the student and teacher guides, navigate to the “Guide” section (in the upper left hand corner of the screen), and you should see a section titled “Resources” with both guides listed. From there, you can download the PDFs.

You can also download the guides here — but we recommend exploring the Design Challenge as part of your preparation:

  • Teacher Guide: Guide that can be used to teach this design challenge, and a deeper dive into the concepts that are being used.
  • Student Guide: Guide to help students understand the concepts behind the design challenge and to build and test the prototype. Also includes open-ended questions and long form questions.

We can’t wait to see what you make!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>