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 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Animal-Adaptations1.docx
Previous Activity (if applicable) Birds and Their Habitats
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Animal Adaptations

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.

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: http://www.accessexcellence.org/AE/ATG/data/released/0542-BehmLisa/
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) http://www.accessexcellence.org/AE/ATG/data/released/0542-BehmLisa/
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!

Communication Towers


Name of Activity Communication Towers
Author Ali Boreiko + Jen Scinto
Keywords communication, non-NXT, building, teamwork, social skills
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time <1 Hour Total
Brief Description In this activity, students will better understand the importance of communication for engineers. By completing an engineering challenge silently in groups , they will gain an appreciation for verbal communication.
Lesson Objectives: The objective of this activity is to have students reflect on how they communicate to their classmates and to the teachers. 
Materials Needed: -Found materials (paper, bottles, straws, clothespins, etc)

-An arm’s length of tape

-A separate room/space where half of the students can work (e.g. a hallway or empty classroom nearby).

Procedure Warm up the class by discussing: What is communication? How do humans communicate? Animals? Robots? Who do engineering need to communicate with when they’re working on a project? Who do you communicate with when you’re working on a project? (5-10 mins)

Then, divide the class up into teams of 6-10 people, let them choose their team name. The teams are competing to build the tallest tower. But, the team must build the top and bottom half separately. So, divide the teams up again into two groups, the top and the bottom (each with 3-6 people).

Tell them that the two groups working on the bottom cannot talk, but are allowed to write and draw. The team working on the top is not allowed to write or draw, but is allowed to talk. Let the kids work for ~10 minutes on their part of the tower. They should NOT be able to see the other half of the tower.

Then, each of the two groups (top and bottom) sends a representative to discuss their ideas with the other half of their team to plan how the tower will fit together. They cannot bring any pieces from the tower, just their ideas. Each representative keeps his or her handicap. After they meet for 5 minutes, the representatives return to their groups and continue to build. 

After ~10 more minutes of building, the groups unite and get 5 minutes to connect their tower, all the while with their handicaps. Finally, once each team has a tower, measure them! 

Debrief by asking: What was hard about the activity? Why is communication so important for engineers? (5-10 mins)

Detective- Solving the Mystery


Name of Activity Detective- Solving the Mystery
Author Kirsten Jorgensen and Hannah Garfield
Keywords detective, engineers, solve, mystery
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Solving the mystery (~30 minutes)Did this is the second half of the 2nd mechanical engineering project day
Lesson Objectives: determine who committed the crimeoverview of the different types of engineering
Materials Needed: posters with mug shots and descriptions of suspects
Preparation and Set Up: make posters of suspects with mug shots and descriptionsExample: Bill Ding; Hometown: Burlington, VT; Age: 25; Occupation: Structural Engineer with concentration in buildings;
Procedure Use whatever time needed to finish and present rube goldberg devices present posters and talk about what skills each suspect has that could be helpful for them to commit this crime and what experience do each of them not have. Discuss and blind vote on which of the 4 different suspects (mech, envior, civil, electrical) they think did it THEY ALL DID IT–engineers work together to accomplish goals and most projects require people from different disciplines with different experience to complete them Talk about final project at the end of class.
Previous Activity (if applicable) Detective: Mechanical Engineering
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering

Detective- Civil Engineering


Name of Activity Detective Civil Engineer
Author Hannah Garfield and Kirsten Jorgensen
Keywords detective, mystery, civil engineering, structure, bridge
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Lesson 2 of the Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering unit – civil engineering.
Lesson Objectives: - understand what civil engineers do/design
- experience building neatly and conserving materials
Materials Needed: - Popsicle sticks
- rubber band
- masking tape
- string
- ruler
- heavy objects to test with (usually can use classroom’s textbooks)
- paper and pencils
Preparation and Set Up: - arrange students in pairs
- arrange students around classroom so each student has a 1.5′ gap (between desks or tables) they can work with
Procedure Now that the crime scene is illuminated, the students/detective engineers see that there’s a large hole in the floor in between them and the scene of the crime. Ask students how might they cross this gap and what kind of engineering knowledge would they need? Group discussion about what civil engineers do/design. Introduce materials students will use to create a structure (don’t necessarily call it a bridge) to cross the gap. Each group will receive:

  • two 1′ long pieces of tape
  • one 1′ long piece of string
  • 5 rubber bands
  • 20-30 Popsicle sticks (give all groups same amount)
  • paper and a pencil for planning (if they don’t have already)

Before distributing materials allow students time to plan activity on paper. Emphasize that you will not give them extra materials and they need to plan accordingly. Allow groups to build. When groups are ready test structures with heavy items like text books. With about 10-15 min left in class, bring group back together to have each group present their structure and test it in front of the class.

Extensions: - add more weight when testing
- allow students to re-design using even fewer materials
- allow students to re-design using same materials but a wider gap

Electromagnetism Superheros





Name of Activity Electromagnetism Superheros
Author STOMP
Keywords electricity, magnetism, final, project, non-lego
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Students will have two weeks to design and build something to help a superhero rescue all of the paper clips in the city of Boston from an evil supervillain hiding in a cave.
Lesson Objectives: -Incorporate both electricity and magnetism in a final project.
-Encourage students to design while thinking about a client and what he/she will need to accomplish.
Encourage students to be creative and reaffirm that there is no one correct answer.
Materials Needed: For the first week, some materials should be replied. You may then allow students to request certain materials (within reason) if they feel it would help their design for the next and final week.

First Week Materials:
-Lightbulbs (both LED and standard small lightbulbs)
-Paperclips, for testing
-Assorted materials such as paper, felt, tape, popsicle sticks, etc.

Preparation and Set Up: -Collect supplies.
-Prepare a model of the supervillain in its cave (can be accomplished by a bunch of paperclips within a dark box)
-May consider bringing large pieces of paper in for students to draw their designs.
-Divide students into groups of 2-3.
Necessary Background Students should now have an excellent background on both electricity and magnetism. They should realize that a combination of electricity and magnetism will be needed to successfully complete this activity.
  1. Divide students into groups of 2 or 3.
  2. Describe to them the problem that they will have to solve: a supervillain has taken over all of the paperclips in Boston and is now hiding out in a cave! If you were to design someone to help the superhero save the city, what would you design?
  3. Distribute large pieces of paper and encourage students to brainstorm for quite a while. Think about what problems they need to solve and how they will design for a specific person.
  4. Allow students to build a little with the provided materials in week 1 and request materials for week 2.
  5. In week 2, have students complete their designs and demonstrate to the class if they have time.
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Electricity & Magnetism

Squishy Circuits





Name of Activity Squishy Circuits
Author STOMP
Keywords squishy, circuit, electricity, LED, playdough, non-lego
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Squishy circuits allows for students to make a simplified circuit using Playdough as wires.
Lesson Objectives: Students will be introduced to the concept of circuits and attempt to make their own circuit using a power source, conductive wires, and lightbulbs.
Materials Needed: -Playdough
-9V Batteries
-LED Lightbulbs
Preparation and Set Up: -Pack supplies. Ensure that there are extras of everything, in case a battery has died or some of the LEDs are not functioning properly.
-Arrange students in pairs.
-Distribute materials.
Necessary Background Students should be introduced to the concept of circuits as well as the necessary components to each circuit. What are some common circuits that we use every day? It may be helpful also to explain to them the properties of Playdough that would make it useful in a circuit.
  1. Arrange students in pairs.
  2. Distribute materials.
  3. Allow students to spend some time trying to get the LEDs to light up themselves, offering guidance only when deemed necessary.
  4. If students are still stumped, it may be time to give hints to them as to why their circuit is not working. The most common issue is that the Playdough wires will be touching. Some groups may not even make two separate wires.
  5. Ensure students understand why their circuit is or is not working by the end of the activity (1-2 weeks, as you see fit).
Online Reference(s) https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1T-p5pOAGi-hcP1cxoq0BkhJe0pQJLhXQcywRkfWAWCQ/edit?usp=sharing
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Electricity & Magnetism

Mini City

Name of Activity Build a Mini City
Author STOMP
Keywords city, sturdy structures, intro to types of engineering, boat, bridge, tower, earthquake, tornado, traffic system, non-lego
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7
Time 3 Hours Total
Brief Description Using a variety of materials provided and unlimited tape, the students were asked to create a “mini city” that contained 3 of 4 options. The 4 options were making a tall (2 feet) structure that is earthquake and tornado proof, a boat that can hold 20 pennies, a bridge that is at least 1 foot long to connect to another city and wide enough to allow a lego car to travel between the cities, and a traffic system.
Lesson Objectives: -Further encourage the use of the engineering design process.
-Encourage group collaboration.
-Allow the students to use and extend on the knowledge they gained throughout the introduction to types of engineering unit.
Materials Needed: cardboard, construction paper, aluminum foil, tape, popsicle sticks, lego wheels and pieces, pipe cleaners, plastic box filled with water, markers, pennies, fan
Preparation and Set Up: -Collect and separate all materials, so that each group has the same amount.
-Print out enough worksheets for the class.
-Fill plastic box with water.
-Precut pieces of tape for each group to start with.
-Discuss the challenge and possible ideas for ways to work in a group.
-Pass out worksheets and materials.
Procedure 1. Introduce the challenge. Discuss the exact details of each of the parts of the city and be sure to emphasize that they should make sure to complete at least 3 of the challenges. Also, discuss the timeline of work. We provided the students with 3 class periods, but that included the introduction and sharing their cities at the end. 2. Hand out worksheets. 3. Have students outline their ideas and make one plan as a group for their city including marking which materials will be used for what and how they will get the work done. 4. Hand out materials. 5. Encourage testing and redesigning. 6. Once ready, have each group describe their city to the class and test for earthquake and tornado proof structures (if applicable). 7. Discuss the challenges and successes of the students and their structures.
Extensions: -Limit the amount of tape.
-Provide different or fewer materials.
-Require the tower to be taller, the bridge to be longer, etc.
-Add another requirement.
Online Reference(s) http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/2013/07/16/boat-building/;http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/2013/06/28/build-a-tower/;http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/2013/07/01/ramp-cars-wheel-and-axle/;http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/popsicle-stick-bridges/
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Intro to Types of Engineering

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