Optional Teaching Supplies

Materials for this Unit

Many EiE lessons use materials that are commonly available at grocery, hardware, or craft stores. To obtain kit materials, either visit our EiE store to purchase a kit that includes materials for up to 30 students, or create your own kit based on the materials list printed in the teacher guide or the downloadable list below.

Each unit includes a letter to send home with student for materials donation for the unit. Click here to download a copy of this letter in Spanish.

Additional Storybooks for Classroom Use

Storybooks introduce each unit with the tale of a child somewhere around the world who solves a problem through engineering. The books integrate literacy and social studies into the unit and illustrate for students the relevance of STEM subjects. 

Explore the Lessons

Students think about what technology is and are introduced to the idea that engineers design technologies.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Videos
What is Technology? / Grade 4 / Worcester, MA

Students think about what technology is and are introduced to the idea that engineers design technologies.

Extension Lessons

What are Extension Lessons?

Extension Lessons use EiE activities as a springboard to more directly reinforce other curricular concepts.

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Aisha loves potato chips! She can’t wait to visit the chip factory where her big brother Malcolm works as an industrial engineer. To prepare for the tour, Malcom takes Aisha and her cousin Tanya on a scavenger hunt around Boston, Massachusetts, looking for different kinds of simple machines. At the factory, the girls learn how simple machines are combined in a system that makes work easier and safer for employees. Aisha was dreading working on her school project, but now she has a great idea: she and Tanya will create a simple machine system for their own model factory.

Download a PDF of our storybook illustrations.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Simple Machines Storybook / Grade 5 / Wilmington, NC
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EiE - Marvelous Machines: Making Work Easier, L1

Reflection Questions

How does Ann's presentation of the story help her focus her students' attention on the steps of the Engineering Design Process (EDP) that Aisha used?

Ann displays some key text about the Engineering Design Process as she reads the book. She then has students discuss the use of the EDP in the story as a class before students fill in their own handouts.

  • Ann reads chapter 7 to her class while the text is displayed on the overhead projector. (2:10)
  • Ann projects a copy of the EDP handout and solicits ideas from several students about how to fill in the Ask, Imagine, and Plan sections. As students share ideas, she can check for understanding and elaborate on the ideas she wants them to grasp. (4:20)
  • Students fill out their own worksheets based on the model that Ann is providing on the overhead. (7:10)

Ann stops reading at different points in the story and poses questions to her students. What different types of questions do you see her asking?

Ann asks questions that help her check for student understanding about the events in the story.

  • Ann asks her students to summarize what has happened so far in the story. Questions like, "Who else was with Aisha?" and "What kind of engineer was her big brother?" help her student recall the main points of the story. (0:35)
  • Ann asks her students to evaluate Aisha's actions when she asks, "Do you think that was the best way?" (3:11)
  • Ann reinforces the character's use of the Engineering Design Process by asking, "How did Aisha complete this step?" (4:20)
Simple Machines Storybook / Grade 5 / Andover, MA
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EiE - Marvelous Machines: Making Work Easier, L1

Reflection Questions

How does Tim set the stage for watching the Aisha Makes Work Easier video?

Tim asks students to think about the type of work industrial engineers might do, and relates this discussion back to a recent field trip the students took to a mill.

  • Tim reviews the kinds of work that engineers do, defines technology, and elicits student ideas about what an industrial engineer might do. (0:31)
  • Tim introduces the terms industry, factory and warehouse, and relates this knowledge back to the students’ recent field trip to the Lowell Mills. (1:29)
  • Tim has his students brainstorm problems that might occur in a factory and what an industrial engineer's job might involve. (2:51)

What evidence do you see that Tim spent time preparing for this lesson before the class started?

Tim has prepared discussion questions for the students, as well as notes for himself.

  • Tim has prepared discussion questions and uses his smart board to reveal them one by one. He has also embedded the Aisha video into his presentation so that it is launched directly from the smart board. (0:26)
  • Tim refers to notes that he has prepared before the lesson to support and structure his instruction. (2:42)

Students think like industrial engineers as they compare the advantages and disadvantages of making a product independently with making a product in an assembly line.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Assembly Lines / Grade 5 / Andover, MA
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EiE - Marvelous Machines: Making Work Easier, L2

Reflection Questions

What behaviors do you see that indicate students are engaged in the folder-making activity as a hands-on example of industrial engineering?

Tim's students show their investment in the folder-making activity by jumping, yelling, laughing, and contributing to conversations.

  • When the timer goes off, Tim's students jump around, delighted with their progress. (5:18)
  • When Tim asks students about problems they encountered while making folders on their own, almost all students raise their hands and have ideas to contribute. (5:46)
  • Students enthusiastically count down to the last second before they stop the assembly lines. (8:16)

 

What do you see Tim doing to make sure that his students take away the key ideas from the folder-building activity?

Tim uses handouts and questioning to help students summarize general findings from the assembly line activity.

  • Tim's review of all the steps of making potato chips, followed by the steps of making engineering folders, reinforces students' understanding of processes. (1:04–2:02)
  • Tim gets his students thinking about the whole assembly line process by having students identify bottlenecks and propose solutions. (8:45)
  • Tim has students use the handout to help them summarize and articulate their ideas about the efficiency of the assembly line as a technology. (11:25)
Assembly Lines / Grade 5 / Wilmington, NC
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EiE - Marvelous Machines: Making Work Easier, L2

Reflection Questions

What strategies do you see Ann using to make sure all of her students understand her directions and know her expectations?

Ann reviews all directions with her students, showing them the materials they will use. Then, she asks questions about what she's just said to check for understanding.

  • Ann helps students review the directions for folder making by having them read each step out loud. (0:40)
  • Ann holds up construction paper and a ruler so that everyone can identify the items they will be using. (1:25)
  • Ann quizzes her students about how they will attach the pencil pocket and they all say, "Tape." (2:46)

Why do you think that Ann's initial results do not show much of a difference in the number of folders made independently versus by assembly line? How does she adjust her findings to be more reasonable?

Ann gave slightly different instructions for the assembly line task than she did for the individual work. When reflecting with kids, Ann realizes this and explains the difference to students.

  • After 10 minutes of working independently, she tells students to finish any folder they may have started. (5:10)
  • Ann tallies the total number of folders made independently and by the assembly line, realizing that the numbers are not very different. (9:27)
  •  Ann explains that if she had let each assembly line finish every folder they had started within the 10 minute time period, there would have been 15 more folders produced. She adds those to the total so that the results are more appropriate. (10:32)

Students use simple machines and spring scales to determine how much force is needed to move a standard load and think about the ergonomics of using each machine.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Using Simple Machines (1) / Grade 5 / Andover, MA
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EiE - Marvelous Machines: Making Work Easier, L3 Part 1

Reflection Questions

What strategies do you see Tim using to prepare his students for the testing they will be conducting?

Tim posts the goals and context of the activity for all students to see. He also demonstrates the procedure for testing at each of the simple machine stations.

  • Tim posts the goal of the activity, and reminds students of the context. (3:13)
  • Throughout the video, Tim shows students how to operate each simple machine station, pointing out where they will attach the load and where they will attach the spring scale.
Using Simple Machines (2) / Grade 5 / Andover, MA
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EiE - Marvelous Machines: Making Work Easier, L3 Part 2

Reflection Questions

What evidence do you see that Tim’s students are beginning to develop an understanding that all simple machines have advantages and disadvantages?

Tim’s students talk about both ergonomic advantages to some of the machines, and force advantages. They also talk about the advantages of some of the simple machines that do not provide a force advantage.

  • Tim asks students to compare the three lever positions they tested, both in terms of ergonomics and force required. Even though the class decides there’s no force or ergonomic advantage to using position C, they note that it does create a greater distance between the fulcrum and the load, which allows them to swing the load in a wider arc. (5:41)
  • When discussing the pulleys, students note that the benefit of the single pulley is that they get to just pull down, though the force required is not changed. (7:13)
Using Simple Machines (1) / Grade 5 / Wilmington, NC
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EiE - Marvelous Machines: Making Work Easier, L3 Part 1

Reflection Questions

What strategies do you see Ann using to prepare her students for the testing they will be conducting in this lesson?

Ann posts definitions and handouts when she is discussing them so students are able to make a visual connection. She demonstrates testing procedures, asking for students to help with the demonstration when possible.

  • Ann has students practice lifting the model bag of potatoes (as suggested in the teacher guide), so they have a physical understanding of why ergonomics is important. She then posts the term ergnomics with its definition after they have experienced it firsthand. (2:43–4:59)
  • Ann takes the time to show students how to operate each simple machine station, sometimes bringing up student volunteers to help in the demonstration. (7:06)
  • As she references handouts, Ann posts visuals of the sheets for students to see. (13:21)
Using Simple Machines (2) / Grade 5 / Wilmington, NC
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EiE - Marvelous Machines: Making Work Easier, L3 Part 2

Reflection Questions

Where did you see students needing support while at the testing stations?

Many students needed reminders about trying to keeping measurements accurate—making sure to move the bottle a full 6 inches or to take readings while moving the bottle.

  • A group is reminded to lift the bottle a little more in order to reach the 6 inch mark. (3:04)
  • A group is reminded to pull the bottle all the way up the board and to read the spring scale as they’re pulling. (3:54)

What unique assessment opportunities do Ann’s interactions with do small groups provide?

When talking with small groups, especially at the data analysis stations, Ann is able to see how they are answering questions on their handouts and ask probing questions to better understand their thinking.

  • Ann asks one student a question similar to what is on the worksheet, but words it in a different way. The student is able to correctly answer this question, indicating a working understanding of the idea. (4:20)
  • Ann talks with a student who is confused at the pulley station. She’s able to ask him questions about the differences between the single and double pulley, focusing in on whether one station has more rope than the other. (6:53)
  • Ann talks with a group about the trade-offs at the pulley station. Through her questioning, they come to the idea that the more rope (the longer the distance) the less force (the easier it is) to move a load. (6:33)
Using Simple Machines (3) / Grade 5 / Wilmington, NC
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EiE - Marvelous Machines: Making Work Easier, L3 Part 3

Reflection Questions

What evidence do you see that Ann's students are beginning to develop an understanding that all simple machines have advantages and disadvantages?

When Ann poses the idea of the "best" simple machine, students are able to point out that it really depends on what job you're trying to do; there are trade-offs for all of the machines.

  • A student points out that the best machine depends on what the job is. Ann guides the class to discuss the idea that moving something horizontally may require a different simple machine than lifting something vertically. (2:43)
  • Ann guides students to think through the differences in the trade-offs of the single and double pulleys. A student shares that there was more rope with the double pulley, but less force was required. (4:37)
  • After students complete the hands-on activity, Ann reminds them of the formula "work=force x distance." One student points out that based on the equation, if the force is greater, you have to have a lower number for distance (or the opposite). (7:34)

Students apply their knowledge of simple machines and industrial engineering as they imagine, plan, create, test, and improve their own factory subsystems.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Improving a Factory Subsystem / Grade 5 / Wilmington, NC
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EiE - Marvelous Machines: Making Work Easier, L4

Reflection Questions

What does Ann do to reinforce the idea that an engineering challenge can have multiple solutions?

Ann makes several comments that indicate that she values creativity and is inspired by the variety of solutions that students come up with for the challenge.

  • By assigning a different simple machine card to each group, she establishes that there are many different elements that can be part of the final subsystem design. (6:26)
  • Ann listens as two students explain their plan involving a wheel and axle, a single pulley and an inclined plane. Later, when a girl at the same table describes her idea of using an elevator, she says, "Good idea; I like that too." (11:22)
  • Ann acknowledges the unique ways that one group used rulers during the challenge. She says, "I didn't see anyone else do that. What did you guys do with the rulers?" (14:23)

What evidence do you see that Ann's students have prior knowledge of the Engineering Design Process (EDP) and know how to apply it to design challenges?

Ann's students easily name the EDP steps they will be using and provide details about what they will do for each step.

  • When Ann asks her students about "the first thing we have to do", Charise does more than just name the first EDP step. She applies her knowledge to the context when she responds, "We have to ask about what kind of simple machines we're going to use." (1:34)
  • After a student mentions the Imagine step, Ann pushes them further by asking, "What are we going to imagine?" A student expands by saying, "The simple machines we are going to use and how we think they are going to work." (1:51)
  • When discussing what is involved in making a plan, Ann's students mention many things they have discussed, such as listing materials, using aerial-view drawings, and including labels. (2:28)
Improving a Factory Subsystem (1) / Grade 5 / Andover, MA
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EiE - Marvelous Machines: Making Work Easier, L4 Part 1

Reflection Questions

As students share their imagined subsystem diagrams, what do you notice about their ability to represent ideas using visual texts?

Tim's students show evidence of visual literacy skills in the ways they create and interpret their sketches.

  • Students use labels to identify parts of the subsystem. (6:01)
  • All of the student diagrams are sequenced from right to left, but arrows are used to clarify specific directions of movement. (6:13 and 6:33)
  • Students use their fingers to move along the diagram and reinforce their representations with gestures. (6:05 and 6:13)

When and why does Tim have students work individually versus small groups?

Tim uses different student grouping strategies for each stage of the Engineering Design Process (EDP).

  • For the Ask step, Tim has his whole class work together on the overhead worksheet as they review what they had all done in Lesson 3.
  • For the Imagine step, Tim has students separate and work individually. He explains that he wants them to think outside the box and come up with original ideas that they can bring to the group.
  • For the Plan step, Tim arranges students in working groups of 4, encouraging them to compromise and combine individual ideas into a single plan they will pursue as a group.
Improving a Factory Subsystem (2) / Grade 5 / Andover, MA
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EiE - Marvelous Machines: Making Work Easier, L4 Part 2

Reflection Questions

Toward the end of the lesson, what does Tim do to help his students stay in “engineer mode” and remind them of the context of the original challenge?

Tim takes several opportunities to remind his students that they are involved in a real-life engineering challenge.

  • When Tim has students return to their science seats, he explains that they will “do their closing paperwork as engineers would do.” (7:55)
  • When writing their letter to the factory president, Tim has his students add the title “Industrial Engineer” to their names. (8:08)

What do you notice about Tim’s students experience with working in groups?

It appears as though Tim’s students have spent a lot of time working in groups and have established clear norms and expectations for group work.

  • One student clearly identifies and assigns roles or specific jobs for group members. (0:45)
  • Although the room is filled with interesting materials, Tim’s students stay on task and work together to achieve goals (0:37, 0:51 and 1:00). Students can be heard encouraging each other, building on each other’s ideas, and sharing information. (“good job” at 1:06, “that’s what I was thinking” at 0:50, and “it’s called duct tape” at 0:34)