Penn StateM3 Hybrid Electric Vehicle Education



Advanced Transportation Technology science modules:

  • Air Bags

    Using chemicals from the kitchen, students make and test mock air bags and learn about the chemistry behind real air bags in a fun, hands-on context. The activity culminates in students deciding on amounts of chemicals to add to their mock air bag so that it protects a falling egg in an egg-drop crash test. Chemistry: Multiple Class Periods

  • Combustion and Emissions
  • A flickering candle lights the way for a scientific investigation. This lesson uses hands-on demonstrations and web-based presentations to explore the science of combustion. Students become environmental experts as they learn about combustion emissions and how they affect human health and the environment. Physics and Chemistry: Multiple class periods

  • Ethanol

    After adding yeast and glucose to a soda bottle capped with a deflated balloon, students watch as their balloon inflates. Students make sense of the chemistry and biology going on before their eyes by learning about fermentation, simple and complex sugars, and ethanol as an alternative fuel. Corn syrup, corn starch, table sugar, apples, and honey are all used in this activity to bring important concepts about alternative fuels into the classroom. Biology and Chemistry: Multiple Class Periods

  • Flywheels

    Students learn how the concepts of inertia and momentum are applied in modern transportation technology. Student design teams apply what they have learned to invent their own flywheel-powered cars. Physics: Multiple class periods

  • Fuel Cells
  • Watch as a reversible fuel cell powers a car using only water! This activity will help demystify the science behind fuel cells and dispel their high-tech aura. Students will make sense of the fuel cell they see operating by learning about hydrolysis and reverse hydrolysis, viewing online animated tutorials, and reading about their history. Chemistry: Multiple Class Periods

  • Hybrid Electric Vehicles

    Unless you've been lost in the wilderness for the last year, you've probably heard the buzz on HEVs. Are they worth the added cost? What makes them tick and when do they make sense? This module will help your students understand the science and engineering under these exciting new vehicles and--who knows?--may help them make better decisions about energy use than, ahem, their parents' generation. Physics: Multiple Class Periods

  • Magnetism and Motors

    A large locomotive that can travel at high speeds while “floating” above an elevated track is no longer just a notion for a space-age movie. Students are dazzled as learn about MagLev trains, a new concept in advanced transportation technologies. Students are engaged in numerous hands-on activities as they explore the scientific relationships between electricity and magnetism. Physics: Multiple class periods

  • Memory Metals

    When heated, a metal alloy called “nitinol” springs back to its original shape after being bent or twisted out of shape. In this activity, students devise their own procedure to systematically find nitinol among a set of other unidentified metals. They learn about its applications in medical stents, eyeglass frames, and car bumpers. Students study important aspects about the nature of science and practice interpreting data from graphs and material data sheets, all while learning about this cool alloy. Chemistry: Multiple class periods

  • Milk Carton Car (kinetic & potential energy)
  • Put a fun twist on fundamental physics concepts by having your students build and test their very own milk carton cars. A great way to introduce kinetic and potential energy to your students, or to review concepts already covered in your classroom. Physics: Multiple class periods

  • Modeling Metals with Marbles and BBs

    A hands-on activity to help students understand two challenging concepts: the kinetic-molecular nature of matter and the "sea" of valence electrons that give metals their unique properties. Chemistry: One 50-min class period

  • Solar Power

    Students become engineers as they design and build their own solar-powered vehicles. They learn how to obtain the most power from their solar cells by experimenting. They then engage in a battle of wits and use their knowledge to create the fastest car in the class. Physics and Chemistry: Multiple class periods

  • Properties of Metals

    Who would travel on a bridge that bends under the weight of the automobiles that traverse it? In this activity, students learn the importance of analyzing properties of materials. They learn to use Young’s Modulus of Elasticity equation and devise an experiment to compare the strengths of different types of metals. Physics: Multiple class periods

These lessons were developed at the Center for Science and the Schools with financial support from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. If you have suggestions or questions please call CSATS at (814 865-3525).

Pennsylvania Transportation Institute Future Truck National Science Foundation Graduate Automotive Technology Education