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.

View all Extension Lessons »

Yi Min goes to school in a town near Beijing, China, and she and her classmates have a problem. A hungry bunny is munching on the plants in their classroom garden. When she visits the Great Wall of China, the sight inspires Yi Min to build a wall of her own, with the help of her friend Chen. Yi Min’s grandfather, a retired materials engineer, guides her to explore the properties of different earth materials and see what goes into making a truly great wall. Together, Yi Min and Chen design and build a bunny-proof garden wall.

Download a PDF of our storybook illustrations.
 

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Yi Min's Great Wall / Grade 2 / Hollywood, FL
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Reflection Questions

What do you notice about the questioning style that Chentel uses with her students? Why do you think she employs this style of questioning?

Chentel asks questions that elicit student’s personal thoughts and ideas. By asking for opinions, not facts, she is able to effectively draw out students’ prior knowledge without putting them on the spot.

  • Chentel asks, “Why do you think the Great Wall of China was built?" (0:49). After a child suggests the wall was built to separate people, Chentel asks, “Why do you think they’d do that?” (00:57)
  • Chentel asks, “What could be the job of a Materials engineer?” (2:37)
  • Chentel asks, “Rashad, can you think of one way that walls help people?” (4:40)

In what ways does Chentel help her students self-identify as engineers?

Chentel uses the word "engineer" frequently. She refers to her students as engineers and uses the verb engineer to describe what they are doing.

  • When introducing the unit, Chentel explains, “We are going to be creating something. We are going to become engineers.” (0:28)
  • After Marcus reminds the class that rabbits are good jumpers, Chentel says, “That might come into play when Yi Min decides how she wants to design or engineer her wall.” (4:24)
  • As Chentel reads the story, she emphasizes that even though she was a child, Yi Min felt like an engineer. (8:07)
Designing Walls: Storybook / Grade 4 / Kittery, ME
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Reflection Questions

How does Blayne connect the storybook with real-world engineering situations?

Blayne’s discussions allow her students to connect to the storybook by seeing the value of materials engineers in real-life situations.

  • Blayne talks about the gardens at their school and mentions how “critters” are nibbling their vegetables, just like the garden at Yi Min’s school in China (0:40–0:46)
  • Blayne shows pictures of the real Great Wall of China and discusses how the materials engineers had to keep making improvements to the walls. (3:20–4:21)

How do Blayne’s discussions deepen students’ understanding of the Engineering Design Process (EDP)?

Blayne asks the students to explain their favorite step of the EDP. This allows the students to reflect on each step and think about the EDP on a deeper level.

  • Blayne confers with a group of students and asks them what their favorite step of the EDP is and why. (8:12)
  • Blayne asks the whole class to explain their favorite step and spends time discussing why the Improve step is so important. (9:00)
  • Blayne explains to the students that sometimes one step of the EDP comes more naturally than another, but the whole process is important.   (10:03–10:19)

Students think like materials engineers as they discuss whether a variety of materials would be good or poor choices for accomplishing given tasks.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Materials and Their Uses / Grade 2 / Hollywood, FL
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Reflection Questions

How does Chentel encourage and validate her students’ contributions to class discussion?

Chentel thanks her students for their ideas, comments on how interesting they are, and pushes them further by asking lots of “why” questions.

  • Chentel exclaims, “Wow, interesting! Thank you!” after Kaitlin theorizes that some materials used for T-shirts might break the washing machine. (2:02)
  • After one students says she thinks that straw would start out warm, but wouldn’t stay that way, Chentel inquires, “And why do you feel that way?” (4:16)
  • After Joel shares his idea for sewing straw into a blanket or a house, Chentel asks, “Isn’t that interesting?” (4:39)

How does Chentel reinforce the idea that there are good and poor uses for every material?

Chentel challenges her students to imagine a T-shirt made from different materials, think of ways straw could be used to keep warm, and agree on the best material choice for very particular tasks.

  • Chentel asks, “What if this t-shirt were made from glass? Tell me about that.” (2:12)
  • When two students offer different perspectives on whether straw would be a good material for keeping warm, Chentel challenges her students to weigh both the good and the poor qualities of straw. (4:00–5:00)
  • Chentel records all the different materials that could be used for keeping warm or for carrying eggs, but eventually has her class agree on one that they think is best. (7:02)
Materials and Their Uses / Grade 4 / Kittery, ME
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Reflection Questions

How does Blayne elicit students’ prior knowledge to prepare them for Lesson 2?

Blayne begins the lesson with a review of Lesson 1. Her students review key vocabulary and concepts before beginning the day’s activities.

  • Blayne asks students what an engineer is and how they would define the term “engineer.” (0:29)
  • Blayne ties in the storybook by discussing how Yi Min’s grandfather worked with mortar, and how he was an engineer. (1:24)
  • Blayne uses a T-shirt to help her students understand materials and how to define their properties. (3:28)

How does Blayne help her students understand how properties of certain materials may be useful depending on the situation?

Blayne frequently reminds her students that the usefulness of materials is not black and white. The same problem can be solved in many ways using different materials.

  • Blayne has her students talk about making a shirt out of paper and out of glass to highlight differences between materials for the same product. (4:08)
  • Blayne discusses the strengths and weaknesses of four materials to help keep warm. (6:26)
  • Blayne summarizes the class discussion about cleaning the floor and sitting with the idea that different materials could be better or worse choices depending on the circumstance. (9:00)

Students perform controlled experiments to identify properties of a variety of mortar samples created from earth materials.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Testing Mortar / Grade 2 / Hollywood, FL
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Reflection Questions

When might a “virtual wall walk” be a better option than going outside to observe walls in the neighborhood?

Consider creating a “virtual wall walk” if your school neighborhood is unsafe, if walls are scarce or all of the same type, or when weather prevents outside excursions.

  • Chentel’s school campus was large and flat, and the only walls were those holding up the school building.
  • Most of the walls in Chentel’s Florida community were covered with cement and then painted. The cement coating concealed the underlying brick and mortar construction.
  • By observing the photographs of walls that Chentel collected, students learned about different types of walls and how mortar is used to hold bricks and stones in place.

What process does Chentel use to help her students understand and reflect on the results of their mortar sandwich tests?

Chentel asks for predictions before each test and makes sure that all groups are involved in data collection and have a chance to share their personal findings. Then, she helps the class come to a consensus.

  • Each pair of children tests their own mortar sandwiches and counts to 30 seconds to see how long they stick. (8:13)
  • Chentel asks individual groups to share the results of their tests, and then has them try to explain what happened. (8:30)
  • After hearing the results of each group, Chentel has students discuss and rate the overall performance of each mortar material. (9:49)
Testing Mortar / Grade 4 / Kittery, ME
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Reflection Questions

How does Blayne guide her students through the Ask step of the Engineering Design Process?

Blayne prompts her students to think deeply about why they are making mortar. By asking questions and making connections to student learning objectives, Blayne effectively guides her students through the Ask step.

  • Blayne asks students why it’s important to think about the stickiness of a mortar. (4:24)
  • Blayne asks her students what properties they should be looking for in the mortars they create once they are dry. (4:56)
  • Blayne asks for a student to explain in their own words why they are making mortar sandwiches. (5:29)

How does Blayne help her students communicate effectively throughout lesson 3?

Blayne asks pertinent and context-driven questions to help her students articulate their thoughts.

  • Blayne elicits students’ ideas about how they will test the stickiness of their mortar. (5:49)
  • After students have tested the stickiness and the strength of each material, Blayne has her class summarize their results to prepare them for Lesson 4. (7:15–8:36 and  9:26–11:07)

Students apply their knowledge of earth materials and materials engineering as they imagine, plan, create, test, and improve mortar mixtures and design their own walls.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Designing a Wall / Grade 2 / Hollywood, FL
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Reflection Questions

How is student learning supported and enhanced through the use of EiE handouts?

The Engineering Design Process handouts help structure and set the pace for student learning. The handouts help to focus students on the key engineering skills or questions needed at each step.

  • Students use the handout to help them come up with different ideas for how to make mortar. This process helps students consider multiple solutions to the same problem. (1:36)
  • Teams consider the pros and cons of the four solutions they have come up with. When debating which idea to try, they practice collaborative skills and learn about compromise. (2:20)
  • Students make diagrams of the model wall they will build. As they review and critique their written plans, they practice communicating their ideas and justifying their choices. (2:49)

What kinds of things does Chentel do to reduce the stress and the mess that this unit might create in the classroom?

Chentel protects all the desks from mud and clay, sets up a designated materials table and a drying center, and carefully controls the testing of wall strength.

  • Throughout the video, you can see that all desks are covered with blue and green waterproof tablecloths.
  • Chentel has prepared material sets for each group that include cups of 30 pre-counted rocks. (3:01)
  • Students collect scoops of soil, sand, and clay from a materials table that is organized and staffed by an adult volunteer. (3:49)
  • Chentel has the class sit on the rug and invites one pair to sit next to the testing station and make observations while she controls the demolition ball. (4:55)
Designing a Wall / Grade 4 / Kittery, ME
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Reflection Questions

How does Blayne encourage her students to think deeply about the Engineering Design Process?

Blayne pauses at different points throughout Lesson 4 to ask thoughtful questions and gives her students time to reflect on their experience.

  • Blayne takes the time to review the Ask step with her students before moving on to the Imagine step. (00:19)
  • Blayne has students reflect on the difficulty level of the Create step. (5:08)
  • Blayne asks her students what part of the Engineering Design Process they found the most challenging. (11:01)

Where do you see Blayne encouraging her students to persist and learn from failure?

Blayne has her students reflect on their designs and encourages them to think about how they improved.

  • Blayne discusses how engineers test to the point of failure. (6:49)
  • Blayne asks her students to observe how their wall fell apart and what they’d do to improve it. (7:37)
  • Blayne reflects with one group about how they improved their design and recognizes their improvements after they test the wall. (9:48-10:32)