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Name of UnitAgents of SHIELD Treasure Hunt (Simple Machines)
Author(s)Laura Fradin, Jill Gerke
SchoolStratton Norcross Elementary
Brief DescriptionStudents will use simple machines to solve weekly problems regarding their treasure hunt!
Keywordssimple machines, superheroes, gears, Lego, lever, pulley, inclined plane, screw, catapult, wheel and axle
Number of Weeks8
Week 1Welcome Back to STOMP! Students have been promoted to Junior Agents of SHIELD (continuing with a semi-superhero theme).

They are competing with Hydra to find an ancient alien city planted on earth thousands of years ago. The Kree temple city contains thousands of alien artifacts with the power to destroy the world, which is why it is imperative that these artifacts do not fall into the wrong hands. Fortunately, Agents of Shield have a few advantages over Hydra. First of all, they have located the island on which the Kree temple city is believed to be. It is on a tiny island of the coast of Puerto Rico. Second of all, they have a team of highly trained engineers to help them: you. Hydra’s scientific division has developed a special technology that allows them to trace any Shield gadget using electricity. This is why students will be limited to simple machines that use no electricity.

The first activity served to reintroduce students to the Engineering Design Process. Students made aluminum foil boats to bring them to the island where the ancient city resides.
Week 2Gears

We have just spent days hacking through the jungle. Using ground penetrating radar, your treasure seems to be a few hundred feet below you. Using the gears in your pack, you need to design a tool that will dig through the earth and get you to the treasure room.

Students will be introduced to gears and gear based vocabulary. They will use the gears to build a digging tool. The activity is called “Building a Gear-Powered Tool”.
Week 3Screws

Last week, the students successfully dug to the treasure room, only to discover that is was flooded by an underwater stream. Using simple machines, they are going to have to pump the water out of the treasure room so they can enter it without scuba gear.

Students will be introduced to the concept of screws. They will then make Archemedian screws using wooden dowels and plastic tubing. (Activity to be added to the database soon).
Week 4Pulleys

The treasure room is emptied of water, but the students need a way to get to and from the room with their treasure.

Students will be introduced to pulleys and pulley related vocabulary (fixed vs movable pulley, pulley systems, forces). Using pulleys, students will design an elevator that will successfully carry them and their treasure out of the secret city.
Week 5Wheel and Axel

The students have excavated the treasure from the Kree city, but need a way to get it back to their boats. Students will be introduced to wheels and axles. Using a wheels and axles, students will design a cart or wagon with which to transport their treasure. We will test how much treasure their designs can carry.
Week 6Inclined Planes

HYDRA FOUND US! Hydra finally caught up with our intrepid explorers. As we escape up the mountain with our treasure, we have to fend off the impending Hydra attack. Inspired by Indiana Jones, the Director of SHIELD has decided that the best way to fend off the attack will be to roll giant boulders down the mountain. Students will be introduced to inclined planes and design marble roller coasters. Students will design ramps to launch to boulders as well as test to see how accurately they can aim to hit Lego people.
Week 7Levers

The boulder attack successfully thwarted the majority of the Hydra onslaught. However, there are still a few agents pursuing us.  Students will be introduced to levers (type 1, 2, and 3) and their advantages. Students will then design and build catapults!
Week 8MYSTERY?!?! (possibly day 2 of catapults)

Name of Activity

Tiny Homes – Continue Circuit Building




tiny homes, sustainability, electricity, circuits, snap circuits, building, design


Building/EDP, Electricity & Magnetism

Grade Level

5, 6, 7


1 Hour

Brief Description

Introduce snap circuit kits. Teach parallel and series circuits and have students practice with the snap circuits.

Learning Goals:

Students will work in groups to further their understanding of circuits with the snap circuit kits. Students will see firsthand the effects of using parallel and series circuits.


snap circuit kits


Put students in groups of 3-4 (doesn’t have to be the same group as for tiny homes), snap circuit kit for each group (each kit should have batteries, a light, a fan, a switch and enough connectors)

Knowledge Background

Teacher should have the students in groups when you arrive, ideally teacher has some knowledge of electricity and renewable energy


  1. Recap what students learned the week before with squishy circuits.
    1. Discuss the concepts of open and closed circuits, electron flow, positive and negative charges.
  2. Teach parallel and series circuits. This can be done by drawing the circuits on the board and having students explain or act out where the electrons will go.
    1. Show how if a light goes out (or the circuit breaks) in a series circuit the whole circuit will go down, but in a parallel circuit the other components will be OK.
    2. Demo how a switch works by turning the classroom lights on and off
  3. Hand out snap circuit kits.
  4. Give students about half of the remaining time to play and familiarize themselves with the kits.
  5. When all of the groups are reasonably comfortable with the kits give them small challenges. For instance ask them to change what they’ve built from a parallel to series circuit or vice versa.
    1. Take a break to explain how parallel circuits are more robust if a component burns out. One way to do this is by drawing a parallel circuit on the board and have them explain what happens when you erase different parts of it.
  6. As you wrap up tell students to start thinking about how to implement circuits in their tiny homes.

Previous Activity (if applicable)

Squishy Circuits

Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable)

Tiny Homes and Energy Resources

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