Levees and Erosion





Name of Activity Levees and Erosion
Author STOMP
Keywords levees, coast, coastal structure, coastlines, erosion, storms, LEGOs, LEGO People
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Teach students about levees and how different coastal structures protect coastlines in different ways.
Lesson Objectives: Teach students about coastal erosion and storms. Build levees out of Legos to protect Lego people.
Materials Needed: LEGO Kits, rocks, sand, large bin, bucket to pour water from.
Preparation and Set Up: Experiment with this a bit before doing it in a classroom. Ours worked but it could have been better.
  • Go over material on overhead.
  • Do worksheet.
  • Do activity.
  • Have students build walls out of Legos that need to protect a Lego man from stormy seas. Set the man and wall in the large bin and dump a bucket of water on them (to mimic waves). See if the man is still standing.  You could make students build different types of structures, use sand and rocks to protect people, etc. The sand can also be used to demonstrate how waves erode beaches.
Modifications: We were winging it for most of the activity- if you want to teach this lesson, think about how to best simulate a storm and get students to build protective structures.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/f.doc
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/g.doc
Reference 3 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/h.doc

The 3 R’s





Name of Activity The 3 R’s
Author STOMP
Keywords reduce, reuse, recycle, paper, impact, environment
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Teach students about reducing, reusing, and recycling. Then take scraps of paper and make a new sheet of paper.
Lesson Objectives: Teach students how to lower their impact on the environment by using the 3 Rs.
Materials Needed: Old scraps of colored paper, sponge, window/nylon screening, wood frame, plastic tub, blender, paper blotters, glitter/leaves/moss/Halloween decorations, deckle, rolling pen, hair dryer/microwave, rags.
Preparation and Set Up: Take window screens and popsicle sticks and make frames with the screens in them. This is to be able to collect the paper pulp from the water tub in “sheet” form.If you have enough materials to make screens for each kid, that would work well since sometimes the paper pulp gets stuck and you have to re-do it.

This activity is messy- towels for the floor might be a good idea.

Try out different speeds on the blender to figure out which one makes the best pulp.

Procedure Go over the 3 Rs with the overhead. The worksheet provides step by step directions for making the paper.  At the end of the overhead doc, there is another worksheet that you can give to students to do after they finish making their paper. Most kids will want to watch the others, though.
Modifications: You don’t really need the hair dryer if you are willing to let the paper dry overnight. Also- the worksheet has a step about putting the paper on felt and using a rolling pin to dry it- don’t do this- it wrecks the paper. Just let it dry on the screen.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/c.doc
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/d.doc
Reference 3 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/e.doc
Online Reference(s) http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Make-Paper—An-Illustrated-Step-by-Step-Guide

Solar Power





Name of Activity Solar Power
Author STOMP
Keywords solar power, pizza oven, found materials
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Teach students about different uses for solar power and how they work. Then get them to make a solar pizza oven.
Lesson Objectives: Teach students about different uses for solar power and how they work. Then get them to make a solar pizza oven.
Materials Needed: sun, empty pizza box, black construction paper, aluminum foil, clear plastic laminate, glue, tape, scissors, ruler, marker, wood dowel rod, cookie dough (the break and bake kind)
Preparation and Set Up: Link to directions to make the oven: http://tristate.apogee.net/kids/lase_ifrm.aspx
Procedure Teach basic concepts with the overhead. Do the worksheet. Make the oven.
Modifications: If there is not any sun on the day you do this (very likely in Mass…) you should make sure the teacher can bake the cookies in the teacher’s lounge or something so the kids don’t get disappointed. Encourage the kids to take their ovens home and try them.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/a.doc
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/b.doc
Online Reference(s) http://tristate.apogee.net/kids/lase_ifrm.aspx-linktoactivity

Wind Power





Name of Activity Wind Power
Author Tufts STOMP
Keywords wind power, windmills, wind, LEGOs, pinwheels, straws, paper, brads
Subject NXTs, Non-LEGO
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Teach students about wind power, how windmills work, Cape Wind, etc. Then get the students to build windmills with Legos or make pinwheels with straws, paper, and brads.
Lesson Objectives: To learn about wind power, how windmills work, Cape Wind, etc., then to get the students to build windmills with LEGOs or make pinwheels with straws, paper, and brads.
Materials Needed: LEGOs or fan to act as wind (or you can breathe on them), wooden skewer, paper fastener (brad), construction paper, bendy straw
Preparation and Set Up: Use the overhead sheet to explain how wind power works. Then use the worksheet to get students to plan their windmill designs.
Procedure See attachment.
Extensions: If using Legos- the extension can be to make the windmill work with a motor. For classes using RCX or NXT, the windmill can have parameters for rpm.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/j.doc
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/k.doc
Online Reference(s) http://www.ezonemag.net/wind/worksheets/make_a_wind_turbine.pdf - link to the activity/directions for making pinwheels

Challenge Day!





Name of Activity Challenge Day!
Author Jay Clark
Keywords difficulty, tasks, points, programming, risk, reward, risk vs. reward, NXT, MINDSTORMS, 3 Hours Total
Subject NXTs
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 3 Hours Total
Brief Description Students choose from a list of different tasks with a range of difficulty levels and varying point values. The group with the most points at the end of the class period wins!
Lesson Objectives: Review Programming Skills.
A first exposure to making risk/reward decisions.
Materials Needed: One NXT kit per group
Computers with Mindstorms NXT software
Black electrical tape
Preparation and Set Up: Put together a list of challenges on a worksheet. They should range in difficulty level from very, very simple to challenges that are more or less impossible to complete. Assign point values to the activities based on their difficulty, keeping in mind that close scores are more fun and drive the students to keep working. An example worksheet is attached below.
Necessary Background This activity is as much of an activity in assessing risk/reward and strategy as it is in programming. Some students will complete many tasks with simple, fundamental programming. Others will bite off more than they can chew, and end up without many points at all.
  • Introduce challenge day and go over what each challenge calls for specifically.
  • Hand out worksheets and set a strict time limit.
  • Update scores on an overhead or white board.
  • After the time is up, talk with children about risk/reward, and about how hard each challenge was. If they could do it over again, which would they choose? which were fastest.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/i.doc

Peak Performance





Name of Activity Peak Performance
Author Jay Clark
Keywords NXT, car, course, fastest, flat, inclined, gear, gear ratios, torque, speed, optimization, building, drive gear, driven gear, 1 Hour Total
Subject NXTs
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students must gear their NXT car to complete the course the fastest. The course consists of a flat section and an inclined section.
Lesson Objectives: To learn about gear ratios, gearing for torque vs gearing for speed, optimization, and building.
Materials Needed: NXT kit
Computers running MINDSTORMS
Preparation and Set Up: Prepare one or more courses – With a flat beginning and an incline ending. The length of both sections will determine the optimum gear ratio. To allow for extensions, set up other courses with varying distances of the course components.
Necessary Background Using gear ratios students can gear their cars for more torque or more speed. If the drive gear is bigger than the driven gear, the car will be geared for speed. If the other way around, it will be geared for torque.

A car geared for torque will be slower, but will climb better. A car geared for speed will be quick, but might not be able to climb the ramp.


Gear Ratio – The ratio of the speed of rotation of the drive gear of a gear train to that of the driven gear.

Drive Gear- The gear attached to the source of torque. (Usually the motor).

Driven Gear – The gear that receives motion from the drive gear.

Optimization – Finding a balance between design concerns that yields the best solution.

Procedure Introduction – 10 Minutes Ask students if they’ve ever used gears before. More than likely, they’ve driven a 10 speed bike before, and never knew how the gears worked. Introduce students to gears and gear ratios. Using a pre-made gear train, show them the size of the drive gear and the driven gear, and ask if the driven gear will spin faster or slower than the drive. If they are having trouble seeing it, ask them for every one rotation of the drive gear, how many times does the driven gear rotate? Explain torque vs. speed. ie. tugboats – high torque, low speed. Handheld fans- high speed, low torque. Introduce the concept of optimization. Introduce the activity Activity – 40 minutes Clean up/ Wrap up – 10 minutes

  • What was easiest? What was hardest?
  •  What would you have done differently?
  •  What were some good ideas you saw that other groups came up with?
Extensions: Have the students try a different course with different dimensions and slopes.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/e.jpg
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/f.jpg






Name of Activity Catapult
Author Kara Miranda
Keywords design, challenge, build catapult, launch, LEGO, not classroom tested, k-3, 4-6, 7-9, prototype, Engineering Design Process, lever, fulcrum, force, load
Subject Simple Machines, LEGO Building
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description An design challenge in which students will design and build a catapult and see which design will launch an object the furthest. This activity can use either Lego or non-Lego pieces. *This activity is not classroom tested.*
Lesson Objectives: To apply building techniques and knowledge about levers to an activity challenge.
Materials Needed: Simple Machine or RCX kits
Example photos of catapults
Assortment of extra LEGO pieces, especially beams
Engineer’s Planning Sheet
Plastic spoons
Rubber bands
Tongue depressors
Ruler (yardstick or tape measure)
Preparation and Set Up: Collect necessary materials

Photocopy worksheets
Arrange students into groups of 2

Decide how you will distribute extra pieces and other materials

Write design requirements on the board

Find a section of the floor at least 15 feet long and put tape down on one side. Students will place their finished catapults on this line and launch the object from there, and the teacher can measure how far it has gone.

Necessary Background Review three different classes of levers.

Engineering Design Process

Lever (first, second, and third class)

    • Tell students that in this challenge they will be making a catapult. Explain to them what a catapult is, making sure to go into levers and its three different classes. A catapult can mean any machine that hurls a projectile. Students can use either Legos or non-Lego materials to create their catapult.
    • Show students different pictures and/or videos of catapults, explaining what they do and how they work. Explain the engineering design process.
    • Tell them the requirements for their catapults. Examples of requirements are:
    •       Must be six inches tall
    •       Must launch a ball at least 6 feet
    • Allow the class to brainstorm different ideas for their catapult design. Have them plan out and draw their design on the engineering planning sheet.
  • Distribute materials and have students start building.
    • After students finish building their catapults, have them place their catapult on the line and launch an object (preferably something that will not roll, perhaps a Lego piece). Measure how far the catapult launched the object.
  • After the students finish, review the activity with the class. Have them share their ideas, ask groups to explain what the hardest part of the challenge was, etc.
Extensions: Have students redesign their catapult to make it launch objects even further.
Have a class-wide competition to see whose catapult launches the furthest.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/111_image_1.jpg
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/111_image_2.jpg
Reference 3 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Building_Design_Sheet3.pdf






Name of Activity GOOP
Author Esha John (Created by Mike Motola Barnes, Andrea Dwyer)
Keywords matter, states of matter, experiment, viscosity, molecular structure, newtonian fluids, solid, liquid, gas, non-newtonian fluid, 1 Hour Total
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Exploring the different states of matter and experimenting with objects that are in
between states of matter.
Lesson Objectives: Explain the differences between the different states of matter. Depending on the grade level the activity can be used to explain concepts of viscosity, molecular structure and newtonian and non newtonian fluids.
Materials Needed: Each group will need

-Plastic cup w/1.5 cups cornstarch

-Plastic cup w/1 cup of water (not yet filled)

-Styrofoam plate and plastic spoon

-Several paper towels

- 2x Recycling bin (or otherwise) to hold water, in lieu of a sink

Preparation and Set Up: Divide students into groups.

Divide up materials to give to each group.

Necessary Background The teacher should be familiar with all the vocabulary terms as well as know the
basic differences between the states of matter

-Solid: fixed volume and shape (low energy)

-Liquid: fixed volume, variable shape (high energy)

-Gas: variable volume and shape (very high energy)

Knowledge of Molecular structure in different states maybe necessary for older

Viscosity – how much a fluid resists flowing (high = thick, low = thin)

Newtonian Fluid – viscosity stays the same (flow is directly proportional to pressure)

Non-Newtonian Fluid – viscosity changes with different amounts of force/pressure

Procedure  Talk about states of matter:

-solid:  fixed volume and shape (low energy)

-liquid: fixed volume, variable shape (high energy)

-gas: variable volume and shape (very high energy)

Briefly discuss molecular structure (in terms of energy).

Other terms:

Viscosity – how much a fluid resists flowing (high = thick, low = thin)

Newtonian Fluid – viscosity stays the same (flow is directly proportional to pressure)

Non-Newtonian Fluid – viscosity changes with different amounts of force/pressure

2. Discuss some examples of things that aren’t clearly solid/liquid/gas. Jello or pudding (solid+liquid); shaving-cream/foam (liquid+gas); play-dough (solid+liquid). These are mixtures of more than one matter state. A key process involved here is dissolving: the substance (such as salt) that dissolves breaks up, and may become invisible, but is still present!!

3. Talk about suspensions. Goop is a suspension of cornstarch in water. The cornstarch molecules are sticky, so they don’t slide over each other as easily as water molecules. Pass out worksheets and materials

4. Add about 2 parts of water to 3 parts of corn starch and mix well with a spoon until all the corn starch is dissolved. Alternatively you can pour water into the cornstarch while constantly mixing with a spoon. Stop as soon as all the corn starch is dissolved.


Poke with fingers: Poke it as hard as you can. How fast can you poke it without making it solid?

Roll into a ball: Pick up and roll between fingers. How long can you hold it like that? How big of a ball can you make?

Mix w/ fingers/spoon: How does it feel when you go fast? Slow? Hold the cup in place and pull the spoon out. Try to do it really fast. What happened?

6.  After the completion of the activity don’t let them wash it down the drain (get them to wipe their hands off before they go to the bathroom)

Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/goop.doc

Boat Building





Name of Activity Boat Building
Author Rachel Yu and Laura Nixon
Keywords boats, materials, float, water, weight, sinking, density, surface area, weight
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description The students build boats out of different materials and then float them in water and
place pennies on the boats until they sink.
Lesson Objectives: Determine what material and what shape of the boat will make the boat that holds the most pennies.
Materials Needed: Tin foil, paper, clay (NOT play dough), Legos, popsicle sticks, tape, pennies, water and basin.
Preparation and Set Up: For the first graders, we gave each group a different material and had them build a boat out
of it. Then, after their first trial, they could choose what material they thought would work
best and make another boat.
Necessary Background Vocabulary:
Surface Area
Procedure x

Super Sparker Static Electricity





Name of Activity Super Sparker Static Electricity
Author Andrea Dwyer
Keywords household materials, lightning, static electricity, electrons, protons, thunder
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students use household materials to create an electric current similar to lightning.

This is a static electricity activity based two versions I found online: one was
an entry by Ramona Gravesande that was previously in the activities database
and the other the website http://www.exploratorium.edu/science_explorer/sparker.html.
I combined the instructions in those two activities to create an activity that works more effectively.For older students, you may want to combine this activity with another electricity activity, such as creating electromagnets.

Lesson Objectives: To teach students how lightning forms and why it strikes.
Materials Needed: - Styrofoam plates.
- Tape.
- Aluminum pie pans.
- A pencil with eraser.
- Pieces of wool fabric.
Preparation and Set Up: - Gather necessary materials.
- Arrange students into groups of 2-4.
- Distribute necessary materials.
Necessary Background Lightening occurs when a connection is made from electrons in the bottom
of a cloud to protons in the ground. Electrons in the bottom of the cloud are
attracted to the protons in the ground. When the connection is made the protons
rush to meet the electron and that is when you see lightening. A bolt of lightning
heats the air along its path casing it to expand rapidly. Thunder is the sound
caused by this rapid expanding air.


Procedure 1.    Tape the pencil onto the center of the pie plate with the eraser touching the pie plate so that the pencil becomes a handle.                              

2.    Rub the underside of the Styrofoam plate on your hair or the wool for one minute. Rub fast.

3.  Use the handle to pick up the pie tin. Hold it   about a foot over the Styrofoam plate and drop it.                      

4.    Now–very slowly–touch the tip of your finger to the pie tin. Wow! What a spark! (Be careful. DON’T touch the Styrofoam plate. If you do, you won’t get a spark.)

5.    Use the handle to pick up the pie tin again. When the tin is in the air, touch the tin with the tip of your finger. Wow! You get another great spark.

6.    Drop the pie tin onto the Styrofoam tray again. Touch the pie tin. Another spark! Use the handle to pick up the pie tin. More sparks!

7.    You can do this over and over for a long time. If the pie tin stops giving you a spark, just rub the Styrofoam tray on your head again, and start over.

8.    Try using your Super Sparker in the dark. Can you see the tiny lightning bolts you make? What color are they?

Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Lightning.pdf
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Super-Sparker-Explanation.doc
Reference 3 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Super-Sparker-Making-Lightning-Activity.doc

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