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Name ofActivity Shipwrecked: Circuits and Lanterns
Author STOMP
Keywords circuits, batteries, electricity, Snap Circuits, IEL
Subject Electricity & Magnetism
Grade Level 5
Time 1 Hour
Brief Description This activity was divided into two days. Day 1 was primarily free play and exploration so that the students could gain a sense of how circuits work and what electricity is. Day 2 was a series of three challenges to get the students to use different components of their kits and learn about series versus parallel circuits.
Learning Goals: Introduce students to electricity and circuits in the context of “Shipwrecked at the Bottom of the World” by Jennifer Armstrong. Have students develop teamwork and communication skills.
Materials: Snap Circuit Kits
Knowledge Background A basic understanding of how a circuit works.
Procedure Day 1:

  1. Introduced students to circuits and electricity by playing a game that demonstrated resistance and current. Students were assigned to be electrons running around the circuit. A few others were assigned to be resistors with a number of ohms of their choice (jumping jacks). When the electron students reached the resistor students, they had to do x jumping jacks to represent resistance.
  2. Students were split into pairs and given a Snap Circuit kit to explore. The goal was to turn the light bulb on.

Day 2:

  1. Challenge 1: Get the lightbulb and fan to turn on at the same time.
  2. Introduced parallel versus series circuits using a tollbooth analogy (next time: have the kids play a game!)
  3. Challenge 2: Make the lightbulb brighter or the fan turn faster. Explore using resistors.
  4. Challenge 3: Control whether the lightbulb and fan are turned on at the same time. Explore using resistors and switches.
  5. Class discussion about challenges of designing a circuit. Why do parallel circuits work better than series circuits sometimes?
  6. Discussed” soft” vs. “hard” engineering skills because the students had a difficult time working together and communicating in pairs. This discussion reinforced the importance of discussing a plan, compromising ideas, and teamwork.
PreviousActivity (if applicable) Shipwrecked: Insulation; Shipwrecked: Dirty Water
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Shipwrecked!
Name ofActivity Shipwrecked: Insulating Shelters
Author STOMP
Keywords insulation, heat, IEL
Subject Building/EDP
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour
Brief Description PREMISE: The Endurance crew now has a method to acquire safe drinking water. But it is cold outside and very windy! The crew needs shelter soon before they freeze!

CHALLENGE: A crew member salvages blankets, a ripped pair of pants, and an old food box from the shore near the shipwreck. Team must build a simple structure with these materials to keep the crew warm while learning to work around communication challenges.

Learning Goals: Explore insulating materials and the idea of heat exchange
Develop communication skills
Materials: Materials per group:

2 soda cans
Hot/warm water
Wool cloth or felt
Styrofoam or packing peanuts
2 sheets of newspaper
2 sheets of printer paper
1 sheet aluminum foil
Pieces of cloth
2 thermometers
Rubber bands
1 ft duct tape

Preparation: Heat hot water in an electric hot water heater to warm, but not boiling.
Knowledge Background Activity was adapted from PEAK Student Energy Actions Unit 5 – Insulation activity. See attached document.
  1. Class discussion about what heat is and how we keep heat in (5 min)
  2. Introduce and discuss importance of communication skills in engineering settings (5 min)
  3. Break students into groups of four
  4. Assign two students in each group to be able to only use their non-dominant hand for all tasks. The other two students can only communicate in pictures (no speaking, no writing down words).
  5. Distribute materials
  6. Groups get to design and build an insulation system for their cans (~10 minutes)
  7. After everyone has built a prototype, pour warm/hot water into each group’s cans.
  8. Every 2 minutes, each group reads and records the temperature on their thermometers and draws a dot on a class graph of temperature vs. time.
  9. While measuring temperature of the hot water, have each group share their design. Discuss what materials students think keep heat in the best.
  10. Debrief the communication challenge portion of the activity. What was hard? Why is communication so important?
Reference 1
Online Reference(s)
PreviousActivity (if applicable) Shipwrecked: Water Filters
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Shipwrecked!

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