Name of Unit Intro to Engineering
Author(s) Katherine McMurray, Melissa Moore
School Brooks School
Teacher Anna McCormick
Brief Description We are blending their study of ecosystems with an intro to engineering curriculum. Mr. Dan Ger is going around the world wreaking havoc for many animals, and the children have to think of ways to solve the problems using the type of engineering we introduced that day.
Grade(s) 5
Keywords introduction to engineering
Number of Weeks 10
Week 1 Each child had a disability they had to adapt to (something that an animal would have), and the children in groups had to work together to make paper airplanes.  Teaching about adaptations and encouraging teamwork.
Week 2 We had the children follow the engineering design process to design trucks or other vehicles to extract animals from a damaged rainforest.  They had to think about what interior would be most suitable to the animal’s environment, and how to make the exterior suitable to the rainforest.  They drew their plans on paper rather than having them build the truck to emphasize the planning aspect rather than the physical building aspect of engineering.
Week 3 We built newspaper bridges because Mr. Dan Ger made a valley in front of the animals that they couldn’t cross.  With limited resources and time, they had to design and construct a free-standing bridge that could hold the most weight possible.  We brought in a variety of fake animals into the classroom, with the largest being a small stuffed elephant.  Our focus was on civil engineering.
Week 4 The animals are in a safe space, but the environment is not conducive to all of their adaptations.  Therefore, the children have to build a “heating” and “cooling” device out of the snap circuits that the animals can use when they get too cold or hot.  They will build both normal and parallel circuits to show that parallel circuits are stronger.  The focus is on electrical engineering.
Week 5 Human circuits.  The kids had a variety of challenges they had to accomplish by making circuits with their bodies.  Kids were labeled either “wire,” “lightbulb,” “switch,” “battery,” “motor,” “resistor,” or “electron.”  They had to make both parallel and series circuits and show which direction the electrons would go.  This was to make sure they understood the concepts behind the snap circuits.
Week 6 Ooblek.  There is a pit of quicksand and we need to figure out how to get across it.  The kids will make ooblek, a substance that is both liquid and solid (when you squeeze it, it turns solid, but when you let it go, it becomes a liquid again).  Teaching chemical engineering.  There will be different stations, so the kids can experiment with it.  Stations include cutting the oobleck, putting a plastic lizard in it, and experimenting with playing with it or squeezing it.
Week 7 Tin foil boats. Dan Ger stole all of our equipment, so we need to build boats to cross the ocean.  Kids get a square foot of tinfoil and have to make a boat that can hold as many pennies as possible.  They received an extra square foot if they showed us a design that improved upon the design they already had.
Week 8 Catapults.  The kids have to build catapults to launch the final siege on Dan Ger’s fortress.  Kids will get plastic spoons, rubber bands, rulers, popsicle sticks, and miscellaneous other materials.  We will launch marshmallows and see which catapult can launch the farthest.

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