Lesson 1

A Long Way Down: Designing Parachutes

Parachutes Storybook / Grade 4 / Fall River, MA

EiE - A Long Way Down: Designing Parachutes, L1


The EIE Curriculum

A storybook introduces the engineering challenge and context. In this story, Paulo, a boy from Brazil, learns about aerospace engineering as he designs his own parachute.

Reflection Questions

What strategies do you see Jean using to prepare and preview content that students will focus on in later lessons?

When science or engineering content relevant to later lessons is mentioned, Jean probes her students to make predictions or give supporting evidence about the statements.

  • When the story mentions a parachute drifting slowly, Jean asks students why they think it fell slowly, setting them up to think about factors that would affect the speed of a falling parachute. (1:35) We see students responding by drawing from previous experience; they discuss an experiment they did about dropping paper. (2:15)
  • Jean also guides students to explain, in their own words, how a parachute works by having them share how they would explain it to a second grader. This leads them to comment on how the parachute and the air interact. (5:50)

How do you see Jean reinforcing the steps of the Engineering Design Process (EDP) with her students?

Jean reinforces the Ask, Imagine, and Plan steps of the EDP by asking her students for ideas about what they should do prior to making their parachutes. They also review the characters’ use of the EDP by looking to the storybook for descriptions.

  • After reading the story, Jean asks students what they think the class should do before making their parachutes (leading them to brainstorm how they could complete the Ask step). Based on the answers given, it is clear that Jean’s students already have experience using the steps of the EDP; asking them to brainstorm first steps lets them proactively use the EDP as a tool. (7:35)
  • In small groups, students fill out the EDP worksheet and look to the text for evidence. (9:35)
  • Finally, the group reviews completed worksheets together, sharing more ideas about how the EDP was used in the story. (10:45)