Currently viewing the category: "<1 Hour Total"


Name of Activity Communication Towers
Author Ali Boreiko + Jen Scinto
Keywords communication, non-NXT, building, teamwork, social skills
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time <1 Hour Total
Brief Description In this activity, students will better understand the importance of communication for engineers. By completing an engineering challenge silently in groups , they will gain an appreciation for verbal communication.
Lesson Objectives: The objective of this activity is to have students reflect on how they communicate to their classmates and to the teachers. 
Materials Needed: -Found materials (paper, bottles, straws, clothespins, etc)

-An arm’s length of tape

-A separate room/space where half of the students can work (e.g. a hallway or empty classroom nearby).

Procedure Warm up the class by discussing: What is communication? How do humans communicate? Animals? Robots? Who do engineering need to communicate with when they’re working on a project? Who do you communicate with when you’re working on a project? (5-10 mins)

Then, divide the class up into teams of 6-10 people, let them choose their team name. The teams are competing to build the tallest tower. But, the team must build the top and bottom half separately. So, divide the teams up again into two groups, the top and the bottom (each with 3-6 people).

Tell them that the two groups working on the bottom cannot talk, but are allowed to write and draw. The team working on the top is not allowed to write or draw, but is allowed to talk. Let the kids work for ~10 minutes on their part of the tower. They should NOT be able to see the other half of the tower.

Then, each of the two groups (top and bottom) sends a representative to discuss their ideas with the other half of their team to plan how the tower will fit together. They cannot bring any pieces from the tower, just their ideas. Each representative keeps his or her handicap. After they meet for 5 minutes, the representatives return to their groups and continue to build. 

After ~10 more minutes of building, the groups unite and get 5 minutes to connect their tower, all the while with their handicaps. Finally, once each team has a tower, measure them! 

Debrief by asking: What was hard about the activity? Why is communication so important for engineers? (5-10 mins)





Name of Activity Intro To Static Eelectricity with Balloons
Author STOMP
Keywords static, electricity, balloon
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students will use balloons to attempt to pick up various objects and then discuss as a group why certain objects stuck to the balloon while others did not.
Lesson Objectives: Students at the end of the lesson should understand how electrons are transferred to objects due to friction, and how the addition of electrons affects repulsion and attraction to other objects.
Materials Needed:
  • Balloons
  • plastic balls
  • flour
  • salt
  • string
  • glitter
  • pieces of paper
  • paperclips
  • worksheet for students to keep track of their observations (Provided below).
Preparation and Set Up: Wihle one STOMP fellow prepares the materials for the students, the other fellow can go through a brief introductory lesson (powerpoint attached below).
Necessary Background Students should be given background regarding electricity and static electricity. Some vocabulary that may be helpful include: charge, electrons, protons, attraction, and repulsion.  It is key to explain that only electrons are transferred, and when they are transferred through friction it makes the balloon more negative, thus making other objects attracted to it.  This effect only lasts for a short amount of time since only a few electrons are transferred to the balloon.  Drawing diagrams of more negative and more positive ends of objects helps to explain this.

It might also be helpful to give real life example such as: static shock due to rubbing socks against a carpet.

  1. Arrange students into pairs.
  2. Provide students with paper to keep track of their observations (attached below).
  3. Allow students to test their materials.
  4. Discuss with class why some materials can be picked up and others cannot.
  5. Discuss what is physically causing the materials to be attracted to the plastic balloons 
Extensions: Have students experiment with other objects around the classroom.
Reference 1 Worksheet for Testing:
Online Reference(s) Power Point: Static Electricity
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Electricity and Magnitism

Tufts Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program • 200 Boston Ave. • Suite G810 • Medford, MA • 617-627-5888

Switch to our mobile site