2018 MRET Program

View the 2018 STEM PD flyer!

MRET Host Labs, Summer 2018

Jennifer Andrew (Materials Science & Eng.), Mentors: Prabal Tiwari and Amanda Uhl
This project will focus on the development on enzymatically degradable hydrogels that automatically dissolve in the body that can be used for the treatment and detection of lung diseases. The teacher participants will learn how to make and characterize the materials using basic chemistry techniques.

Christine Angelini (Environmental Eng.), Mentors: Julie Walker and Kimberly Prince
This project will investigate the effects of burrowing crabs on below-ground root production, decomposition processes and carbon stocks at the salt marsh- mangrove ecotone on both the east and west coast of Florida. The RET teachers will join the grad students in the field for sampling of field experiments as well as process soil cores in the lab.

Thomas Angelini (Mechanical & Aerospace Eng.), Mentors: Marcus Garcia and Tristan Hormel
Epithelial tissues throughout the body produce mucus layers containing large proteins called mucins. These mucus layers are generally thought to lubricate the diverse epithelial surfaces in the body, including the eye and the gut. In this project, we will study different types of epithelial cells which produce different amounts of mucus, and we will use enzymes to degrade robust mucus layers. Teachers will help care for cells and analyze microscope images of experiments.

Yong Huang (Mechanical & Aerospace Eng.), Mentors: Yifei Jin and Kaidong Song
For engineered constructs like heart tissue to repair a heart attack to be viable, they must have vascular trees to supply nutrients and oxygen. This project aims to explore a novel three-dimensional printing technique to fabricate tissue constructs embedded with vascular trees and further evaluate their biological functionality in a perfusion bioreactor. Teachers will help build and test engineered tissues using biology and chemistry techniques

Tanmay Lele (Chemical Eng.), Mentors: Julie Jameson and Andrew Tamashunas
Cells in our body perform complex tasks, including movement across tissues, adhesion to proteins in the body, and the sensing of chemical and mechanical signals. These complex processes depend in large part on the “skeleton” inside the cell called the intracellular cytoskeleton. We are interested in how the cytoskeleton and associated proteins generate forces inside the living cell. This work can help us understand diseases of the cardiovascular and muscular system as well as cancer. Teachers will learn how to care for cells, perform biology experiments, and take images on the microscope.

Eric McLamore (Agricultural & Biological Eng.), Mentors: Victoria Morgan and Nicolas Cavallaro
This research group focuses on development and application of sensor/biosensor technology for solving hypothesis driven research questions in the life sciences. We build optical and electrochemical tools from the nanometer to the millimeter spatial scale, often incorporating biological molecules as an active element (i.e., biosensors). We commonly use a non-invasive technique known as self-referencing, which allows us to measure the transport of molecules across cell membranes and/or tissues. We also build sensors for field applications used in environmental and agricultural research.

Chelsey Simmons (Mechanical & Aerospace Eng.), Mentors: Dan Stewart and Myra Kurosu Jalil
While many amphibians can regrow entire limbs and organs, mammalian regeneration is essentially unheard of in the natural world. Recently, we have identified a remarkable mammal that has regenerative ability – the African Spiny Mouse (Acomys). With the Acomys model and our innovative suite of tunable mechanical microenvironments, we are working to understand the role of mechanical stretching, if any, in scar-free wound healing. Teachers will be trained in cell biology, materials science, and mechanical testing methods while in the lab.

K-5 Standards-Based STEM Units, Summer 2018

Be “Cool” With Popsicle Engineering
Amy Callahan Bliss (2018) Norton Elementary School  Kindergarten
This unit introduces kindergarten students to science and engineering processes and tools. The series of lessons and experiences prepares them to take the popsicle engineering challenge! During the culmination of the unit they get to enjoy eating their creations!

Bacteria! It’s Everywhere!
Jennifer Davis (2018) Talbot Elementary  Kindergarten
This is a gross science and engineering unit to discover what germs (bacteria) are and how we can keep ourselves and our classroom environment cleaner. Your class will discover how germs are spread, grow germs, problem solve ways to keep our classroom clean and write protocol to be followed within the classroom. Grade level presentation ideas are included.

Soil from Spoiled: Engineering a Compost Habitat for Red Wigglers
Andrea Chavez (2018)  Littlewood Elementary School  K-2 Multi-age
During this STEM unit, students will be tasked with creating a compost habitat for Red Wiggler Earthworms. Students will learn about living and nonliving things, the habitat and life cycle of an Earthworm, and the importance of composting in nature and as a sustainable practice. Students will also be engaged in the engineering design process as they conduct research, collaborate, use their senses to make observations, and collect and record data. This cross-curricular unit allow students to be creative, problem solve, and learn to care for our Earth!

Naturally Organized
Meagan Vaughn (2018)   Finley Elementary School  2nd Grade
Are your students’ classroom supplies all over the place? Let nature help get your class organized in this fun beginning of the year unit on biomimicry! In this STEM unit, students will learn how engineers use nature to solve problems by studying two of nature’s smallest organizers – ants and bees. Students will use their learning to brainstorm, collaborate, create, and test a tabletop organizer of their designing. Over the course of two weeks, students will learn through the engineering design process that they can solve problems! Science, math, language arts, and engineering approximations make this unit an engaging and rigorous addition to your curriculum.

Engineering a Marshmallow Catapult: Ready, Set, Launch Those Marshmallows!
Lynda Harris (2018)  Finley Elementary School  3rd Grade
This engineering unit covers science, math, and ELA skills. Based on the book The Marshmallow Incident, students will work together, learn the engineering design process and create a catapult that can launch a marshmallow at a given distance. This unit is more challenging based on the approximations and constraints that each group must overcome. Students will experience failure, but that is a part of the learning process.

Minnow Madness
Sarah Hersey (2018)  Williams Elementary School  3rd Grade
In this unit, students will be introduced to engineering and complete a partial design process. Your students will be presented with an authentic problem: the importance of collecting specimens from the field necessitates effective and humane tools to do so. Working in groups and independently, students will apply their knowledge of engineering design to create the best minnow trap. Multiple trials and troubleshooting are emphasized in this unit as approximations of true design.

Sea Turtle Engineering
Mackenzie McNickle (2018)  Foster Elementary School  3rd Grade
Did you know that Hurricane Irma wiped out nearly half of all sea turtle nests in Florida? Only one out of every one thousand eggs make it to adulthood! In this unit, students studied sea turtles and their nesting behavior, and then developed a solution to the problem by building a structure to fit over nests. After testing their structures in a “hurricane simulator,” they took on the role of social activists by preparing collaborative Google Slides presentations in which they plead their case to concerned stakeholders.

Engineering a Habitat’s Humidity
Kayla Sutcliffe (2018)  Glen Springs Elementary  3rd Grade
This is an engineering unit that covers ELA, math, and science standards in which students will be designing an optimal temporary habitat for a future classroom pet, a hingeback tortoise. Based on background research conducted and their knowledge of condensation, students will identify what humidity level the tortoise needs, as well as what its habitat is like. Each group will research, brainstorm, collect and analyze data, and design their final plan. They will then communicate and present this information to the rest of the class.

There’s Still Time
Lisa Williams (2018)  Foster Elementary School   3-5 Media 
What will happen if Florida loses its state animal to extinction? I do not want to imagine that, would you? In this activity, students researched the endangered Florida Panther and its habitat in search of a solution of the factors that make the Florida Panther endangered of becoming extinct by automobiles and the loss of habitat. Students learned and applied the steps of the Engineering Design Plan in sequential order as they sought a solution to help save the Florida Panther. Once data was gathered and students understood these factors, students independently played around with possible solutions by experimenting with 3D objects such as blocks and Legos. After brainstorming in teams, students built a prototype of the team’s best solution using 3D Doodler pens.

The Secrets of Soil Science: How Plant Roots Affect Soil Stiffness
Erica Marsh (2018)  Global Academy School (Atlanta)  4th Grade
In this project, students explore how soil stiffness and bearing capacity are affected by plant roots. Students learn about the significance of soil mechanics as it relates to civil engineering and soil erosion. Students study these concepts through experiments conducted with soil that contains well-rooted plants and soil without plants.

Can You Help Bartholomew Save the Kingdom of Didd from the Oobleck?: Engineering in the World of Dr. Seuss
Crystal Tessmann (2018) Finley Elementary School  5th Grade
This is a cross-curricular unit that focuses on how engineers approach problems through the engineering design process. Students will read Dr. Seuss’s Bartholomew and the Oobleck. This book will allow them to explore fifth grade language arts standards while also providing an engaging scenario for exploring engineering. Students will be exposed to a simulated laboratory environment in which they use personal protective equipment, collaborate with peers, and measure mass and volume. Students must work within established constraints to save their Lego kingdoms from the oobleck.

Make Way for 3-D Printing
Amanda Spotz (2018)  Lincoln Middle School   6th Grade
This unit is designed to give students an understanding of one aspect of what a biomedical engineer does and the ability to experience and participate in various steps in the engineering design process. Students will work in teams to carry out investigations in 3-D printing modeled after similar research being performed by current students at the University of Florida.