Intro to Static Electricity with Balloons





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

Scratch Challenges!





Name of Activity Scratch Challenges!
Author Emily Taintor
Keywords Scratch, programming, challenges, glide, walk, pattern, draw, pen, costume, 2nd grade, 1 hour
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 2
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students will complete a series of challenges with help from STOMPers and conclude the lesson with an open-ended challenge.
Lesson Objectives: - Familiarize students with programming
- Introduce logic in programming (if, if-else, etc.)
- Familiarize students with the Scratch program in general and get them comfortable with exploring the less obvious features of the program
Materials Needed: - One laptop per pair of students
- Scratch on every laptop
- Projector (preferably
- Attached worksheet
Preparation and Set Up: Get Scratch running on all the computers, set up one computer on the projector so that you can go over the potential ways to complete the challenges as a class.
Necessary Background Limited programming experience necessary. Familiarity with Scratch is necessary to explain the process to the children.
Procedure - Distribute worksheets to children – Have them work on the challenge worksheet challenge by challenge and go over responses as you go – Synthesize student answers into final program on the projector screen for students who didn’t get it independently
Reference 1 Scratch Programming Challenges
Challenges 1-3 Sample Programs  Challenge1 Challenge2 Challenge3
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Scratch Programming



Name of Activity Flubber
Author Laura Fradin
Keywords goo, fun, chemical engineering, borax, glue
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description This will take less than an hour, but is a fun way to introduce chemical engineering by making goo that the kids can take home.
Lesson Objectives: -introduce students to the concept of chemical engineering
-explore how different ratios of chemicals/ingredients produce different results
Materials Needed: -water
-elmer’s glue
-food coloring (optional)
Preparation and Set Up: Have 2 different containers for mixing the ingredients.
Necessary Background None
Procedure How Flubber is actually made: 1) Mix 3/4 cup of the water with 1 cup glue in a bowl. Stir this mixture until it is thoroughly mixed together. Set it aside. 2) Mix 2 tablespoons of Borax with a 1/2 cup of water in a separate bowl. Mix thoroughly until all of the Borax is dissolved. 3) Combine the two mixtures. Stir them together. Add several drops of food coloring until the mixture is the color you want it to be. 4)Continue stirring until it is one mass of goo. See extensions to see how this activity can be more independent for students and take a full class period.
Extensions: This activity can be done as a demonstration in front of the whole class, allowing students to come do different parts of the reaction/procedure.

However, this activity can be done by giving the students a certain amount of each material and have them work in pairs to try and create something that is the consistency of flubber. This will take almost a whole class period! Each group should have a different mixture and they can learn the effects of using various proportions/ratios of each ingredient. After each group has experimented and they have discussed what happened when they mixed various proportions, you can make flubber as a whole class using the procedure outlines above.

Detective- Solving the Mystery


Name of Activity Detective- Solving the Mystery
Author Kirsten Jorgensen and Hannah Garfield
Keywords detective, engineers, solve, mystery
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Solving the mystery (~30 minutes)Did this is the second half of the 2nd mechanical engineering project day
Lesson Objectives: determine who committed the crimeoverview of the different types of engineering
Materials Needed: posters with mug shots and descriptions of suspects
Preparation and Set Up: make posters of suspects with mug shots and descriptionsExample: Bill Ding; Hometown: Burlington, VT; Age: 25; Occupation: Structural Engineer with concentration in buildings;
Procedure Use whatever time needed to finish and present rube goldberg devices present posters and talk about what skills each suspect has that could be helpful for them to commit this crime and what experience do each of them not have. Discuss and blind vote on which of the 4 different suspects (mech, envior, civil, electrical) they think did it THEY ALL DID IT–engineers work together to accomplish goals and most projects require people from different disciplines with different experience to complete them Talk about final project at the end of class.
Previous Activity (if applicable) Detective: Mechanical Engineering
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering

Detective- Mechanical Engineering



Name of Activity Detective-Mechanical Engineering
Author Kirsten Jorgensen and Hannah Garflied
Keywords rube goldberg, mechanical, simple machines, gears, inclined planes, pulley, lever, wedgem screw
Subject Simple Machines
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total, 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Lesson 3 of Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering unit – mechanical engineering.
Lesson Objectives: -understand what mechanical engineers do and design-become familiar with the different types of simple machines

-create a rube goldberg device

Materials Needed: LEGO Simple Machines KitExtra Lego Pieces

a few NXT touch sensors

Preparation and Set Up: Arrange students in pairs with 1 simple machine kit per group
Procedure Continuation on the “Detective” Story line that we are following in this unit. Give the next part of the crime. We sent some of the shrapnel  they filtered from the last week and determined that the bomb that exploded in the museum of science was a bomb that was triggered by a button next to the bomb. There were no finger prints on the trigger. Discuss how this is possible? eventually get to Rube goldberb device because they wouldn’t be blown up if they were a distance away and triggered the bomb. What kind of engineer could build this? First we have an open discussion on mechanical engineers-what they do and why this field is different from other types of engineering–moving parts, robotics etc. What is a rube goldberg device? How do they work. Open discussion about what a simple machine is, why we use them, why they’re helpful, what the different kinds are and what their specific uses are (write on board for reference later). Project: Create a rube goldberg device with 2 different simple machines that can trigger a button (NXT touch sensor) from across the desk — has to be far enough away so they don’t blow up Give students 10-15 minutes to develop an idea and have a plan before they start. Hand out simple machines kits  after it is confirmed that they have a relatively good idea of what they are going to build and assist students as needed (how to work a gear box and how to make the certain simple machines because a lot of them have never seen how gears work) Ended up using a second week for this project so they could finish. Had pairs present their projects to the class. Had them talk about their idea and which simple machines they used.
Extensions: If they finish early, try to have them implement a 3rd simple machine. (only 1 group finished early)
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering

Snap Circuits


Name of Activity Snap Circuits Intro
Author STOMP
Keywords electrical engineering, circuits
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Activity involves building series and parallel circuits with LED’s, resistors, and switches
Lesson Objectives: To introduce students to the Snap Circuit Kits
Materials Needed: Snap Circuit Kits
Preparation and Set Up: Make copies of worksheets

arrange students in pairs

Distribute Kits and

Necessary Background Parallel







Procedure 1. Discuss and introduce the vocabulary 2. have the students design any circuit they want (multiple LED’s in series/parallel) on a worksheet, 3. have them predict what will happen 4. build and write observations

Detective- Environmental Engineering

Name of Activity Detective Environmental Engineer (water filters)
Author Hannah Garfield and Kirsten Jorgensen
Keywords environmental, detective, engineer, mystery, water filter
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Lesson 3 of Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering unit – environmental engineering.
Lesson Objectives: - understand what environmental engineers do/design
- understand what a filter does and why it can be useful
- generally understand how to use which materials in a filter and why
Materials Needed: - rinsed, dried, and cut plastic bottles (2 L are good, but normal sizes also works fine) (cut bottom of bottle off so it’s easy to reach the interior of the bottle, keep cap on)
- cups to catch filtered water
- cheese cloth
- tape
- cotton balls
- string
- paper
- popsicle sticks
- eye droppers
- dirty water (sand, small rocks, oil, glitter, etc.)
Preparation and Set Up: - Rinse, dry, and cut plastic bottles (1 per group)
- Prepare dirty water a head of time
Procedure Once the students/detective engineer crosses the gap they reach the crime scene and there’s mysterious puddles of cloudy water everywhere. They think there could be some clues in the water. Ask the students how they think they could extract the clues from the water? Talk about what the purpose of a filter is. Introduce materials and then allow students to brainstorm how they’ll design their filter before passing out materials. Allow students to build filters. They can raise their hands when they have finished building their filter to receive dirty water. Students can test filters and see how clean their water comes out. Bring students back together as a class and have each group talk about their filter design, if they thought it worked well, and why or why not.
Extensions: Adding oil makes it more difficult. Some kids figured out they can skim it off the top with the eye dropper.

Detective- Civil Engineering


Name of Activity Detective Civil Engineer
Author Hannah Garfield and Kirsten Jorgensen
Keywords detective, mystery, civil engineering, structure, bridge
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Lesson 2 of the Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering unit – civil engineering.
Lesson Objectives: - understand what civil engineers do/design
- experience building neatly and conserving materials
Materials Needed: - Popsicle sticks
- rubber band
- masking tape
- string
- ruler
- heavy objects to test with (usually can use classroom’s textbooks)
- paper and pencils
Preparation and Set Up: - arrange students in pairs
- arrange students around classroom so each student has a 1.5′ gap (between desks or tables) they can work with
Procedure Now that the crime scene is illuminated, the students/detective engineers see that there’s a large hole in the floor in between them and the scene of the crime. Ask students how might they cross this gap and what kind of engineering knowledge would they need? Group discussion about what civil engineers do/design. Introduce materials students will use to create a structure (don’t necessarily call it a bridge) to cross the gap. Each group will receive:

  • two 1′ long pieces of tape
  • one 1′ long piece of string
  • 5 rubber bands
  • 20-30 Popsicle sticks (give all groups same amount)
  • paper and a pencil for planning (if they don’t have already)

Before distributing materials allow students time to plan activity on paper. Emphasize that you will not give them extra materials and they need to plan accordingly. Allow groups to build. When groups are ready test structures with heavy items like text books. With about 10-15 min left in class, bring group back together to have each group present their structure and test it in front of the class.

Extensions: - add more weight when testing
- allow students to re-design using even fewer materials
- allow students to re-design using same materials but a wider gap

Detective- Electrical Engineering


Name of Activity Detective Electrical Engineering
Author Hannah Garfield & Kirsten Jorgensen
Keywords detective, electrical, circuits, mystery, squishy circuits, short circuit, light bulb, museum
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description 1st lesson in “Detective Engineer/Intro to Engineering Unit”

In this lesson the students will learn the basic concepts of circuits and what electrical engineers design.

Lesson Objectives: - understanding basic circuit
- understanding short circuit
- idea of what electrical engineers design
Materials Needed: - white board/black board and markers/chalk
- play dough (1 tub per group)
- 9 volt batteries (1 per group)
- LED lights that work with squishy circuits (1 per group, but probably bring more)
Procedure Detective story: There was a break-in at the Museum of Science. Something valuable stolen or whatever you want to say (more details about break-in so it sounds believable). You (students) have been hired as the detective engineer on the case. You need to solve the crime using your engineering skills. Upon arriving at the crime scene you cannot see anything since the bomb/explosion/etc. disrupted the museum’s lighting system and all of the lights are off. Ask students what type of engineer they need to be to solve this step of the crime. (Eventually they get to electrical.) Discussion with students about what electrical engineers design. Introduce the basic idea of a circuit – idea that electrons are flowing through circuit to make light illuminate, for example. Break students into groups of 2 and distribute squishy circuit materials. Allow students some time to play on their own with trying to get the light to light up. After 5- 10 min or so, bring class back together and discuss what’s working and what isn’t. Draw a battery, clearly indicating + and – ends, and a light bulb, also with clear + and – ends, on the board. Ask for volunteers to complete the circuit and ask them/the class why they connected wires to what and where, etc. Someone will most likely draw a short circuit and if not draw one yourself. Ask students if this circuit would light up the bulb and why or why not. Students can also come up and in a different color illustrate where they think they electrons are going if that helps them understand/get their point across. Allow students to return to their groups and try to make the light bulb light up again. With about 10-15 min left of class, bring students back together. Have a complex-ish circuit (made of only batteries, wires, and light bulbs) drawn on the board. Intentionally draw some short circuits, some wires that don’t connect to anything, etc. Tell students that this is the museum’s lighting circuit system and ask them to tell you what’s wrong with it and why. Students solve the broken circuit and the lights go on in the museum! End of class.
Extensions: If students get the bulb to light up early, give them additional light bulbs to try to make those light up as well and/or design a switch (and have them figure out what that is).
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering



Name of Activity Building a Flashlight
Author STOMP
Keywords circuit, electricity, flashlight, build, switch
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students are asked to create a flashlight using previous knowledge about electricity and circuits.
Lesson Objectives: -Introduce students to making circuits with real wires rather than Playdough, as in squishy circuits.
-Explain the importance of a switch (ie being able to open and close a circuit to turn a light or other object on or off)
Materials Needed: -D or 9V batteries
-Electrical wire
-Electrical tape
-Toilet paper rolls or other objects that can be used as the flashlight body
-Other items to make the flashlight more user-friendly?
Preparation and Set Up: -Collect materials
-Ensure each group will have two electrical wires, pre-cut and pre-stripped
Necessary Background Students should have been exposed to electricity and circuits previously. They should have explored the importance of circuits and particularly switches in circuits.
  1. Divide students into pairs or groups of 3-4.
  2. Distribute materials.
  3. Allow students to try to make their circuit work with little guidance at first.
  4. Encourage students to incorporate a switch into their design and to “package” the circuit such that it can be used as a flashlight.
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Electricity & Magnetism

Switch to our mobile site