Materials Testing





Name of Activity Materials Testing
Author Alana Lustenberger
Keywords materials, properties, building, sturdy, 4th grade, columbus, dipersio
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description This activity involves having students explore the properties of different materials so that they are familiar with them when they choose their materials for a future project.
Lesson Objectives: This activity can be used to prime the class for a long design project where the students will be responsible for selecting the materials they would like to use. It teaches them about the different properties of materials and helps them to understand that different materials are wanted/needed for different applications
Materials Needed: The materials we used were foam, paperclips, cotton balls, rubber bands, straws, and a worksheet.
Preparation and Set Up: You can distribute the materials beforehand into separate bags, or just gather them from the center. Also make copies of the worksheet.
Procedure 1. Explain that all materials have different properties and that in this activity, the students will be exploring these. Make sure to mention that they will have to use what they learn today to pick the materials they will be using for future activities. 2. Pass out worksheets (or show it on the projector). Explain how each test is done and also talk about the ranking system. We did if the material stretches the most, give it a 6. If it stretches the least, give it a 1, and then order the rest corresponding to how stretchy they are within the 1 through 6 range. 3. Put the students in groups and pass out the materials. Make sure you stress teamwork and that both partners should be writing and doing the tests. 4. Bring the class together at the end and have students tell which materials were the stretchiest, heaviest, ect.
Reference 1
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) This was used for the service learning curriculum

Three Little Pigs House Building





Name of Activity Three Little Pigs House Building
Author Emily Lai and Emily Naito
Keywords three little pigs, build, house
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level K, 1, 2
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description After reviewing the story of the 3 little pigs, students get into groups and build three houses out of different materials. Then, the houses are tested with a fan to see if the “big bad wolf” can knock their houses down.
Lesson Objectives: - Using the engineering design process
- Learn to build with different materials and adjust designs based on constraints of materials
Materials Needed: House 1: Paper
House 2: Straws (cut in half), popsicle sticks
House 3: Lego Bricks


Fan (paper fan, folder, etc.)

Preparation and Set Up: Arrange students in pairs

Cut straws in half

Necessary Background Know the three little pigs story.
Procedure 1. Tell story of the three little pigs. 2. Assign students to pairs, and distribute pairs evenly into three different stations (one station for each house) 3. Plan/Discuss possible house designs with partner 4. Construct house out of given materials 5. Rotate through stations until every group has build three houses. 6. Test designs by using a fan to see if the houses blow down.
Modifications: Limit the amount of tape/glue students can use for their houses.
Instead of a paper fan, use a hair dryer or a mechanical fan.
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Robotics in Motion – Naito and Lai

Different Beaks


Name of Activity Different Beaks
Author Emma Coltoff, Pami Anderson
Keywords beaks, birds, animals, adaptations
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students identify the pros and cons of each beak for “consuming” each different food source.
Lesson Objectives: learn to identify the pros and cons of different forms of the same physical trait
Materials Needed: Beaks: spoons, clothespins, pipettes, chopsticks, pliers, etc.
Food sources: beans, rice, seeds, grain, gummy worms in straw, etc.
Preparation and Set Up: Put each of the food sources in a separate container
  1. Distribute each of the different types of  ”beaks.”
  2. Distribute each of the food sources to separate groups.
  3. Have the groups use their beak to try to “consume” the food source and record their observations.
  4. Rotate the food sources until all groups have tried each of the food sources.
Extensions: More food sources, more beak options.
Modifications: Instead of using beaks, try a different physical trait.
Reference 1
Previous Activity (if applicable) Birds and Their Habitats
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Animal Adaptations

Birds and Their Habitats





Name of Activity Birds and Their Habitats
Author Emma Coltoff, Pami Anderson
Keywords animal, adaptations, habitat, birds, climate
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students are assigned a habitat and must sketch a bird with physical traits that are essential to surviving in that habitat.
Lesson Objectives: identifying birds for certain habitats, emphasizing observed characteristics of animals that are fully inherited and characteristics that are affected by the climate or environment
Materials Needed: Worksheet and writing utensils
Preparation and Set Up: Assign habitats to groups/pairs within the class. Give background on the habitats.
  1. Introduce the six habitats:
    1. Wetlands
    2. Arctic
    3. Desert
    4. Rainforest
    5. Aquatic
    6. Grasslands
  2. Assign each of the habitats to a group of students.
  3. Help the students to sketch a bird and label the characteristics of the bird that are essential to its survival in that particular habitat.
Modifications: * Add more habitats
* Have students label which traits are inherited and which are adapted
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Animal Adaptations
Reference 1

Class Circuit Acting





Name of Activity Class Circuit Acting
Author STOMP
Keywords acting, circuit, electricity, resistors, current, switches, battery, electrons, protons, charge
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students will work as a whole to play different parts in a circuit. There will be live presentations of electron flow, and the entire class will need to work together in a circle to make the circuit run.
Lesson Objectives: To teach the role of: wires, protons, electrons, batteries, resistors and switches.
Materials Needed: -Plastic balls (half labeled with a positive sign and the rest labeled with a negative sign)
-Two buckets: one will act as the proton side of the battery, and the other will act as the negative side of the battery.
-Signs that students can wear. Each will be assigned the symbol of either a resistor, switch (open switch on one one side of the sign and closed switch on the other), and a lamp. Students linking hands will serve to be wire.
Preparation and Set Up: Prepare all the proton and electron balls in their buckets. Have signs ready in order to assign roles to students. Before setting up the class in a circle to begin the activity, it is important to go over briefly the different parts of the circuit.
Necessary Background Understand the role of wires, resistors, open switches, and closed switches. Also understand the role of the battery and how electrons are the ones that flow throughout the circuit (use electron flow not conventional current).
  1. Introduce all materials: balls with plus signs are protons, balls with negative signs are electrons, one bucket represents the positive terminal of the battery, another bucket represents the negative terminal of the battery, signs will be assigned to different students one by one.
  2. Get students together in a circle with the buckets filled with their respective balls also in the circle.
  3. Explain that the bucket with the protons will not be touched since the electrons will be the ones that move (electron flow).
  4. Explain that the first student will grab a ball from the electron bucket and pass it on the the student next to them.  This first student can grab more balls from the bucket and continue passing as long as all students follow the rule that you can only pass the electron if the next student doesn’t already have one.
  5. That electron will be continued to be passed around the classroom until the last student drops it into the proton bucket.
  6. Explain that all electrons move (current formed) due to attraction to protons, and that is why all the electrons end up in the proton bucket at the end.
  7. Once all electrons are exhausted explain that each student in this circuit acted as wire (wire is a path for electrons to move through).  Also explain that a circuit with only a batter and wire is a short circuit.
  8. Explain why short circuits are dangerous, and therefore circuits need resistors.
  9. Bring all electrons back to the negative terminal bucket to restart the process, this time with a new part.
  10. Introduce the first sign and assign 1 or 2 or 3 students the role of a resistor.
  11. Any student who is the resistor must count 3-5 seconds when the electron reaches them before passing it on to the next student.  This will help illustrate that resistors slow down electrons.
  12.  Restart the circuit and introduce a new sign: the switch.
  13. The switch will have an open switch on one side and a closed switch on the other.  Assign this role to a student.
  14. Start off with the open switch and attempt the activity.  Keep resistor rolls in to keep practicing the role of a resistor.  Once the electron reaches the student acting as the open switch stop the class. Ask the students if the electrons will keep moving or not.  Discuss why.
  15. Restart the circuit again this time with a closed switch.  Ask why switches might be used in a circuit.
  16. Introduce the last sign: the lamp.  When the electrons reach the student acting as a lamp let them recreate what would happen (maybe jump up to show brightness or hold the electron above their head for a moment).
  17. Review the parts of a circuit in one last run through.
Extensions: This activity is a version of an already existing activity. This activity was created because it differed from the existing version. The other version can be found under online references.
Modifications: Bring in signs of different parts: diodes, motors, and fans.
Reference 1
Online Reference(s)
Previous Activity (if applicable)
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable)

Three Little Pigs IEL





Name of Activity Three Little Pigs IEL
Author Matthew Mueller and Sarah Copolla
Keywords integrating engineering and literacy three little pigs client based design
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 3 Hours Total, 4+ Hours Total
Brief Description The story of the three little pigs was introduced and the problems of pig 1, pig 2, and the wolf were posed to the children. The two pigs needed stronger houses, but still wanted their houses to look like straw and sticks respectively (it was the trade of their family), and the wolf needed help knocking down the brick house but the design needed to be portable so he can carry it with him.
Lesson Objectives: Looking at the characters in the story as clients that are being designed for. They have problems that need to be solved, but each client has certain constraints that need to be considered.
Materials Needed: Straw, sticks, any found or reasonable material that the kids propose and can use to build their design.
Necessary Background Know the three little pig story.
Procedure Tell a brief version of the story or have the kids tell it.  Point out each potential client, their problems, and what the constraints of the solution might have.  Each kids will then brainstorm, design, and request materials they can use to prototype their design.
Extensions: They can test and redesign their ideas if they have time.

Grab Bag Magnetism Investigation





Name of Activity Grab Bag Magnetism Investigation
Author David Stack and Jessica Swenson
Keywords Magnetism, non-lego, science, hypothesis
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students investigate whether a material is magnetic or non-magnetic to learn the properties of magnetism.
Lesson Objectives: Understand similar properties that make something magnetic.
Materials Needed: One magnet and grab bag per group. Grab bag includes: penny, washer, nut, rubber square, clothes pin, paper clip, and battery.
Preparation and Set Up: Collect about eight objects that are magnetic or non-magnetic and put them in a bag for each group.
Procedure Give the students the grab bag of materials. Have them hypothesize (introduce this word) if each object will be magnetic or non-magnetic and record this on their investigation sheet. Have the class discuss whether they think each object is magnetic or non-magnetic and record this on the board. Give each group a magnet and have them test and record for each object. Have the class discuss the results.

Intro to Scratch





Name of Activity Intro to Scratch
Author STOMP
Keywords Scratch, Programming, User Input
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Students learn basic programming concepts with Scratch, including giving a sprite instructions and having a sprite respond to user input.
Lesson Objectives: - Students are introduced to the Scratch block interface
- Students learn basic motion blocks, including glide, move __ steps, and change x or y
- In the second half of the lesson students get the sprite to move using user input instead of basic instructions
Materials Needed: Computers, preferably one for each student.
Preparation and Set Up: None
Necessary Background None
Procedure If students have never seen programming before, it may be a good idea to start with human robot to get them used to the idea. Another good intro game is to set up the floor space as an xy plane with positive and negative axes. Then do a “simon says” type game where you tell the students coordinate pairs and have them go to the approximate location on the floor. This can be a good way to get them used to the idea of the Cartesian plane if they’ve never seen it before. Show the students an example of a sprite moving to the four corners, and write on the board the blocks they’ll need. Then let the students explore the program a little with this goal in mind until they figure out a way to do it (there are multiple right ways). In the second hour have them move the sprite again, this time using key presses or mouse clicks. Key presses are the easiest, using the when ___ key pressed block under the events section.
Extensions: Challenge the students by asking them to try moving the sprite two or three different ways.

Adaptations Box





Name of Activity Adaptations Box
Author Emma Coltoff, Pami Anderson
Keywords animal, adaptations, habitat
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description (less than 1 hour)
STOMPers lead students in selecting physical character traits for an animal that can survive in the chosen habitat.
See link for reference:
Lesson Objectives: to understand different physical character traits/adaptations necessary for specific habitats
Materials Needed: 1-2 shoeboxes, colored paper (for fur), cotton balls (fat), felt (feet), googly eyes (two sizes), pipe cleaners (ears), paper plate (head), popsicle sticks (neck), other (additional body parts), tape
Preparation and Set Up: attach paper plate head and neck to shoebox
Necessary Background Basic understanding of which characteristics are necessary for which habitats and why.
  1. Select habitat
  2. Pick two students as volunteers to attach body parts to “body” (shoebox)
  3. Go through options for feet, ears, eyes, etc. with discussion of why one choice is the best
Modifications: Additional body parts can be added as deemed necessary.
Online Reference(s)
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Animal Adaptations

City Buildings





Name of Activity City Buildings
Author Laura Fradin
Keywords civil engineering, non-NXT, non-lego, 5th grade, aguayo
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students will construct buildings that belong in a city using a variety of different materials.
Lesson Objectives: -reinforce the engineering design process
-understand what civil engineers do
Materials Needed: -tape
-popsicle sticks
-egg cartons
-legos (if a younger group of kids)
-any other materials that might challenge kids to build a structure
Preparation and Set Up: -arrange students in pairs
-brainstorm various types of buildings needed in a city
-show students examples of non-traditional architecture and encourage them to think outside the box of normal rectangular structures.
  1. As a class,  brainstorm building/places in a city that a civil engineer may have to design and build. Examples include: hospital, school, museum, police department, apartment building, houses, playgrounds/parks, airport, cafe/restaurants, church, bank, bridge, bookstore, etc.
  2. Arrange students in pairs and allow each group to chose ONE of the buildings/structures they want to build.
  3. Groups will first PLAN AND DRAW what they want their building to look like and what it will be made out of. Have students show their STOMP teacher the design before getting materials.
  4. Let students build. If they finish early, have them decorate it.
  5. Present.
Extensions: To make the challenge more difficult, limit students to only using one material to build.
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Intro to Engineering-Let’s Build a City!

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