Lesson 2

A Stick in the Mud: Evaluating a Landscape

The Core of the Issue / Grade 3 / Louisville, KY

The EIE Curriculum

EiE - A Stick in the Mud: Evaluating a Landscape, L2

Students think like geotechnical engineers as they take core samples of a model building site and decide how deeply the pier foundations for a model skyscraper should be anchored into the soil.

Reflection Questions

What evidence do you see that Laura is reinforcing children’s confidence as geotechnical engineers?

When setting the context for the lesson, Laura calls students geotechnical engineers and speaks to them as if they are working on a real problem presented by a real company.

  • At the beginning of the lesson, Laura refers to the students as junior geotechnical engineers, reinforcing the idea that they should see themselves as engineers.  (0:40)
  • Laura also introduces the main problem of the lesson as if it is real—that the children will be actual engineers helping a real company. Again, this helps give children agency. (0:29–1:20)
  • At the end of the lesson, Laura says they are no longer junior engineers; they are now geotechnical engineering seniors. (14:30)

How do you see Laura using class discussions to help assess student understanding in this lesson?

Laura pauses at key points throughout the lesson to have students share ideas, which helps ensure students are sharing across groups. It also allows Laura to quickly assess ideas students are considering. 

  • Laura has the class pause in between taking the core sample and testing to have some groups share their recommendations for creating foundations. This helps her see how students are justifying their ideas. (8:55)
  • When groups share findings after testing, Laura asks why they think a certain layer of the model made the skyscraper more stable. This requires students to analyze possible reasons behind their results. (13:30)