Electricity / Electronics / Computer Technology


New! The Mathematics of Computers
Four activities help students understand the role of binary in technologies they use every day, such as computers, smartphones, and the Internet. The activity appeared in the February 2014 issue of Tech Directions and has been reformatted for easy classroom use. It contains ready-to-copy student instructions and full-size worksheets.

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Highlighted Projects from the September 2013 Issue: Green Technology

Cookin' with Sun—Design and Build Solar Cookers
Hot dogs and marshmallows anyone? Bring together math, science and technology in an activity that teaches students about designing products that address human needs, along with issues related to health and the environment.

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Experimenting with Solar Energy
Background on solar energy and its uses, plus five engaging activities.

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Green Technology Project Collection
Nine On-Demand Classroom Projects dealing with green technology topics. Only $19.95! For more details, click here.

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Alternative Energy Vehicles: The Commuter Scooter
Using a small electric motor, acrylic chassis, model airplane wheels and other small components, students produce a mini working model of an electric car.


Basic Electronic Circuits
This project introduces students to the fundamentals of basic electronic circuits and gives them hands-on experience with circuit drawings.


Basic Electronics and Computer Programming Project
Students build simple electronics projects using a BASIC Stamp development board and then write program code to control the circuits they have built. Includes four student projects, culminating in a door bell circuit. (Requires purchase of development board.)


Battery Comparator
Students build and test a circuit that allows for testing various types of batteries.


Binary Systems
A simple, hands-on way to introduce middle school students to the world of bits and bytes. Includes background notes for teacher, game rules and project assembly instructions.


Bipolar Transistor Operation and Configuration
High schoolers build an R-C coupled amp and compare transistor configurations by separating the biasing arrangements from AC amplification, using the same or DC bias setup for all three configurations.


Building a Putt-Putt Golf Obstacle
Enjoyable, low-cost activity engages middle school students. Incorporates design, teamwork, engineering, and problem solving, with an emphasis on power transmission.


Building a Simple Jeopardy Circuit
Students design a real-life electronic circuit, using several methods of digital design, and overcome problems with interfacing digital designs with components outside the digital control.


Calculating Home Electricity Consumption
Students gain greater awareness of their personal use of electricity and get some excellent experience with the practical application of mathematics through study of their families’ consumption of electricity.


Constructing a Printed-Circuit Board Quiz Game Project
Constructing and playing with this printed-circuit board game gives students excellent knowledge of the functions of various electronic components and the PCB as the platform on which they operate.


Current-Measuring-Skills Tester
Don't blow a fuse! This easy-to-make modified breadboard accurately tests students' current-measuring skills--while protecting your lab's multimeters. Student test handout included.


Designing a Self-Sustaining Community
Students assume the role of consultant for a small community that wishes to be self-sustaining in terms of electrical service. The activity appeared in the November 2012 issue of Tech Directions and has been reformatted. Student handouts and worksheets are now included. Only $2.95.

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Electronic Ear
With a few basic electronic components and a standard earphone, students explore the principles of sound amplification.


Electronics Technology Design Project
This capstone project for advanced vocational or technical school electronics students allows them to apply their understanding of DC and AC theory, analog and digital techniques and switching, overload protection and basic assembly procedures on a practical take-home project.


Emergency Electric Candle
After introductory material on basic electricity, students construct a simple light using a metal or plastic tube, a xenon bulb, two AA batteries, and a switch.


Experimenting with Solar Energy
Background on solar energy and its uses, plus five engaging activities.

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Fiber Optic Communication: The Firefly Communicator
Using simple components that include a battery, light-emitting diode, momentary switch and fiber optic cable, students build an LED communication transmitter.


Information Storage and Retrieval: A Mechanical Database
Students learn the principles of computerized information storage and retrieval through a very inexpensive activity that uses index cards and segments of wire hangers.


Introduction to Microchips
Constructing an inexpensive LED (light-emitting diode) paperweight introduces the fundamental operating characteristics of the 555 integrated-circuit microchip.


Lab-Built BJT Checker
Students or instructors can build this handy BJT checker that lets them check the operation of a bipolar junction transistor (BJT) at the proto-board stage.


Lab-Built Op-Amp Checker
Whether you are a student or an instructor, this handy op-amp checker can be of great use to you. It will allow you to check op-amps (operational amplifiers) at the proto-board stage, and, with a little experience, you will be able to estimate slew rates.


Lawn Mower Electronic Shutoff
Teaching students how to safely maneuver riding lawnmowers is a critical task, especially when one comes barreling down at you! This electronics project for high school students transforms a simple garage-door opener into a remote control safety shutoff for runaway mowers. Includes schematic and circuit board.


LED Flashlight
Students can learn electronics basics—Ohm’s law, series and parallel circuits, use of the VOM, and more—while building a very useful product. Note: This project appeared in the October 2009 issue of Tech Directions. It has been reformatted for easy classroom use.


New! The Mathematics of Computers
Four activities help students understand the role of binary in technologies they use every day, such as computers, smartphones, and the Internet. The activity appeared in the February 2014 issue of Tech Directions and has been reformatted for easy classroom use. It contains ready-to-copy student instructions and full-size worksheets.

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Mini Transmitter
With a few easy-to-obtain electronic components, students make a transmitter that will broadcast a pulsating signal on a nearby FM radio.


Miniature Seesaw Project
Teaches Basic Electricity and Magnetism. Students build an electrically-operated seesaw that serves as an excellent model for visualizing magnetic repulsion and also helps with understanding the left-hand rule of current flow.


Music-Controlled Lights
Motivate your students with this very cool light organ project! This electronic system causes lights to flicker at the sound of music or other audio input—think of the color-lights displays at 1970s rock concerts!


PC Power Management Project Also Teaches Spreadsheet Use
Activity teaches students the economic impact of computer power management and provides good experience with mathematics and spreadsheet software. It appeared in the August 2012 issue of Tech Directions and has been reformatted to provide ready-to-hand-out student instructions.

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Shortwave Receiver
Students learn about wireless communication in the course of modifying a recycled AM radio that will give them access to international shortwave broadcasts at minimal expense.


Stop and Go Vehicle
Introduce electronic switching circuits by constructing a small robot-like electronic vehicle that runs quickly along the floor and stops, then goes again. Includes detailed background on the field of robotics, review questions, and a teacher’s guide.


Toast Anyone?
Students measure the electricity needed to toast bread, then use their findings to compute the cost of doing so. Excellent introduction to electricity terminology—and math practice.Note: This project appeared in the February 2010 issue of techdirections. It has been reformatted to include ready-to-copy worksheets. Mini-project, only $2.95!


Transportation Signals
Background on the many types of signals used in transportation, along with plans and schematics for four model signaling devices that students can make: traffic stoplight, train crossing guard, ambulance light and semaphore message light. Plus instructions for a semaphore maze game.
Mini project, only $2.95.


Understanding Automotive Relays
Many students have trouble understanding and working with relays. A trainer board and accompanying activity can provide just the help they need to be informed about relay design, function and testing. Mini project, only $2.95.


UUnderstanding Energy Consumption and Phantom Loads
Background on typical household electricity usage and phantom loads, plus three activities in which students estimate the amount and cost of electrical leakage from electronic devices and appliances in their homes, and propose methods for reducing the leakage. This project appeared in the August 2011 issue of Tech Directions. It includes handouts, full-size student worksheets, and additional information.

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Up Periscope
Students learn about buoyancy, propulsion, and control systems in the course of designing, constructing, and testing a submarine that uses PVC pipe and a basic dc switching circuit. High school level.


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