Currently viewing the category: "Non-LEGO"

Name of Activity

Tiny Homes- Environmental Conditions and Structural Stability




tiny homes, sustainability, materials, properties, shoebox, planning, building, stability, flexibility



Grade Level

4, 5, 6, 7


1 Hour

Brief Description

Students will continue working on their tiny homes by learning and applying concepts related to structural stability. Students think critically about the conditions their home has to stand up to and how they as engineers should plan and build accordingly.

Learning Goals:

Students will practice planning and working in groups. Students will gain understanding of material properties and structural stability and apply these concepts by building on to their tiny homes.


popsicle sticks, cardboard, scissors, cotton balls, masking tape, glue gun


If possible have the students already in their building groups when you get there.

Knowledge Background

The teacher should have grouped the students into groups that work well together. Ideally the teacher should have some familiarity with stability and flexibility.


  1. Recap the planning and building that students have already done on their tiny homes.
  2. Talk about how buildings need to be structurally sound to stand up to their environments.
  3. Show pictures of some structurally cool buildings (e.g. really tall, made of bamboo, lots of triangles).
  4. Introduce the terms stability and flexibility. Go over what it means for a building to be structurally sound.
  5. Before handing out materials, ask groups to plan how they want to make their homes better structurally. They should consider what part of the world they chose for their tiny home and what environmental factors exist there.
  6. Give the students access to the materials and leave them plenty of time for building.
  7. Take a break halfway through for groups to share what ideas they’ve had and what they’ve implemented so far.
  8. When a group is happy with the materials they’ve taped on use the glue gun to finalize their design.

Previous Activity (if applicable)

Tiny Homes – Temperature Control

Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable)

Tiny Homes and Energy Resources


Name of Activity Squishy Circuits and Circuit Diagrams
Author STOMP
Keywords squishy circuit, circuit diagram, electricity
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Using experience with squishy circuits and the symbols for elements in a circuit, students will practice building and drawing circuits. The circuits will have batteries, LED lights, and Play-Doh as resistors/wires (that bit can be confusing, especially when talking about short circuits!)
Lesson Objectives: The goal of this lesson is to introduce students to circuit diagrams and to get them to think about designing circuits. They will practice going back and forth between drawing circuits and building them. In addition, students will practice figuring out why a circuit isn’t working the way it’s meant to.
Materials Needed: Each group (2-3 students) should have:
9V battery
2 LED lights
2 Alligator clips to connect the battery to the rest of the circuits
A worksheet with example circuits for them to build and room for them to draw the circuits that they build
Preparation and Set Up: While one person introduces the class, the other person can distribute materials and worksheets to each group.
Necessary Background Teachers should be familiar with the symbols used and with the idea of a short circuit and the idea that electrons flow through the path of least resistance.
  • Start the class off by reviewing the different components of a circuit and their respective symbols (a good idea is to write these on the board so that everyone can see them).
  • While that’s going on, the other person can distribute materials.
  • Have the students fist try to look at an example circuit diagram and build it, showing the flow of electrons.
  • Then, have them build a new circuit and draw it.
  • After that, have them build a circuit from a diagram that has something wrong with it (a short circuit, an open circuit… etc), try to fix the circuit, and then fix the diagram and explain why it didn’t work.
  • Giving the students worksheets seems to work well for groups that go at their own pace. It also seems to keep the students focused especially when it comes to writing down and explaining their thoughts.
Extensions: If a group finishes early, they can play a game where one person draws a circuit (that either works or doesn’t) and the other person has to build it. If the circuit was purposefully designed to be broken, the other person also has to figure out how to fix it.
Modifications: use snap circuits instead of squishy circuits.
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Intro to Electricity and Circuits

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

Switch to our mobile site