Hands-on Activity What to Bring?

Quick Look

Grade Level: 5

Time Required: 1 hour

Expendable Cost/Group: US $0.00

Group Size: 3

Activity Dependency: None

Subject Areas: Earth and Space

NGSS Performance Expectations:

NGSS Three Dimensional Triangle

The Amazon forest.
What would be useful to survive in the Amazon?
Copyright © https://justcallmegertie.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/hiking_clipart.gif


In the ongoing "Lost in the Amazon" scenario, students are provided with a list of supplies that survived their plane's crash in the Amazon jungle. They organize the supplies to classify which items are useful for surviving in the Amazon. They use estimation and basic math skills to determine how much they can carry and decide which items to bring with them to survive in the jungle until they reach their destination.
This engineering curriculum aligns to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Engineering Connection

Engineers use critical thinking skills to identify what criteria are important for success and what criteria are not important. Then they make design decisions based on these criteria. 

Learning Objectives

  • Organize and rank a set of objects based on their weight and perceived usefulness.
  • Gain skills in estimating.

Educational Standards

Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.

All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).

In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.

NGSS Performance Expectation

3-5-ETS1-1. Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost. (Grades 3 - 5)

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This activity focuses on the following Three Dimensional Learning aspects of NGSS:
Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Define a simple design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process, or system and includes several criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

Alignment agreement:

Possible solutions to a problem are limited by available materials and resources (constraints). The success of a designed solution is determined by considering the desired features of a solution (criteria). Different proposals for solutions can be compared on the basis of how well each one meets the specified criteria for success or how well each takes the constraints into account.

Alignment agreement:

People's needs and wants change over time, as do their demands for new and improved technologies.

Alignment agreement:

  • Use the four operations to solve word problems involving distances, intervals of time, liquid volumes, masses of objects, and money, including problems involving simple fractions or decimals, and problems that require expressing measurements given in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Represent measurement quantities using diagrams such as number line diagrams that feature a measurement scale. (Grade 4) More Details

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  • Evaluate designs based on criteria, constraints, and standards. (Grades 3 - 5) More Details

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  • There are different forms of energy, and those forms of energy can be changed from one form to another – but total energy is conserved (Grade 8) More Details

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Materials List

Large paper for brainstorming (such as chart paper)

Worksheets and Attachments

Visit [www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/csm_amazon_lesson2_activity1_tg] to print or download.


See the storyline located in Lesson 2.


  • Hand out the Student Guide Worksheet for this activity.
  • Read the storyline with the students.
  • Place a transparency on the overhead projector so that all students can examine the supplies list (also on the handout.).
  • Have the groups look at the crash scene and mark all the items on the list they think might be useful for survival in the Amazon rainforest and to get to Manaus safely.
  • As a class, make a list on the board of what items each group wants to take along. Have students explain why each item is important.
  • For question #1 on the worksheet, you may want to use the same value for the entire class for the subsequent parts of the activity.


Worksheet: Have each group complete and hand-in the activity worksheet. Review their answers to gauge their depth of comprehension.

Activity Extensions

  • Have students brainstorm items that are not found on the "Crash Scene" worksheet that they would expect to find on a plane. Would these be useful resources for surviving in the Amazon rainforest? What category would they fit under?
  • Ask students to list all the possible situations they might encounter in the Amazon rainforest. What one item would they like to have most if that happened (do not accept guns or knives as an appropriate answer)? If that item is not available, what could they use in its its place?
  • Brainstorm the resources of the Amazon rainforest. Have students discuss how they can use things that they find along the way so that they do not have to carry everything. You may want to mention the importance of ecological issues such as pollution and its effects on the rainforest habitat.


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More Curriculum Like This

Upper Elementary Lesson
Supplies to Survive in the Jungle

At this stage of the "Lost in the Amazon" (hypothetical) adventure, students determine what supplies they will take with them to survive their trip through the Amazon. They use estimation and basic math skills to determine how much they can carry and what they can use to survive in the jungle enviro...


© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2005 Colorado School of Mines

Supporting Program

Adventure Engineering, Colorado School of Mines


Adventure Engineering was supported by National Science Foundation grant nos. DUE 9950660 and GK-12 0086457. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: July 24, 2021

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