Name of Activity Chair for Mr. Bear
Author STOMP
Keywords Bear, Mr. Bear, build, chair, problem, solution, design
Subject and Grade Level Simple Machines, K, 1, 2, 3
Time 2 Hours Total
Lesson Objectives: – Ask students to design a sturdy chair that keeps a stuffed bear seated upright
– To expose students to the full engineering design process and allow them to practice their building techniques
Materials Needed: – LEGO Simple Machine kits or other LEGO building pieces
– Engineer’s Planning Worksheet
– Engineer’s Final Report Worksheet
– One stuffed bear per group
For the extensions:
– Extra LEGO building Pieces
– Mini Post-It Note Pads
– Mini Drinking Cups
Preparation and Set Up: Optional:
Research different chair designs and print out pictures to facilitate discussion on
how different types of chairs are designed and why chairs are designed differently for
different purposes. For example, office chairs are designed differently then recliners because
they have different purposes.Teacher Background:
Sturdiness is an important consideration when engineering any design. Furniture
(such as a chair), bridges, buildings, cars, etc. have to be sturdy for safety and other
reasons. Engineers always test their prototypes for sturdiness before any real construction
can begin. This highlights important steps of the Engineering Design Process; Test and
Redesign after a failed test.
  1. Review previous activities and emphasize the important lessons learned from those activites especially sturdy building and different pieces in LEGO Simple Machine kits.
    1. note: this lesson follows nicely after Building Sturdy Towers activity and/or the Sturdy Shapes activity.
  2. Introduce the engineering challenge for this activity using the Engineering Design Process
    1. Identify the Problem: Mr. Bear needs somewhere to sit that is sturdy and will keep him sitting upright.
    2. Research: As a class, think about some different chairs and how a LEGO chair might be similar. (provide optional chair research).
    3. Brainstorm: Have student partners think about how to build a chair and how they will work together.
    4. Choose and Plan: Have students fill out the Engineer’s Planning Sheet. Have each partner circle the par that they will build.
    5. Create: Have students design and build. Review piece that may be helpful such as the beams, pegs, bushings and axles.
    6. Test: Explain to the students that their design needs to pass three tests:
      1. Drop Test: The design must survive a drop from the ankle.
      2. Fit Test: The bear must fit in the chair.
      3. Sit-up Test: The bear must sit upright.
    7. Redesign: Have students redesign after failed tests until their design is sturdy and usable. Help students think of ways to make their chair sturdy (overlapping beams, strong shapes, etc.)
    8. Share: Have each student fill out an Engineer’s Final Report Worksheet. Come together as a class, let each student briefly share their chair and discuss:
      1. Difficulties encountered by students and how they fixed them.
      2. One complement and one question for each chair.
Extensions or Modifications: – Build a foot rest for Mr. Bear
– Build a cup holder for Mr. Bear
– Build an easel for Mr. Bear
– It might be helpful to have a chart to keep track of which students have passed which tests
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One Response to Chair for Mr. Bear

  1. Lisa Fantini says:

    For Mr. Ho’s fourth grade class and Josiah Quincy we tweaked the “Build a chair for Mr. Bear” activity by having them make a table and a chair for Mr. Elephant to have dinner. Overall, it was a good way to introduce the NXT pieces to the kids. We noticed that it was important to guide the students more than usual because the pieces are so unintuitive. It may have been especially difficult for 4th grade students, so with this activity it’s good to keep in mind that this is the first time a lot of the kids have played with legos. We had them build a table first since it is easier than a chair. It is also difficult to make a chair not tip over with a large stuffed elephant on it. Last, we figured that by building a table first, they could build off of that to make a sturdy chair. Some kids made chairs that were too small, however, it was humorous to see them elephant sit upright on them anyways.

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