Hands-on Activity: Home, Sweet Home!

Contributed by: Adventure Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Quick Look

Grade Level: 5

Time Required: 1 hour

Expendable Cost/Group: US $7.30

Group Size: 3

Activity Dependency: None

Subject Areas: Earth and Space

A cartoon image of a "Home Sweet Home" sign.
Students create and test shelters
copyright
Copyright © http://blogs.abc.net.au/.a/6a00e0097e4e68883301901e444b5a970b-pi

Summary

Student groups use kite string and wax paper shaped as leaves to build shelters to protect them from the rain. Then they test the shelters for durability and water resistance.
This engineering curriculum meets Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Engineering Connection

Through this lesson and activity, student teams complete the engineering design process used by practicing engineers including constructing and testing their designs. When faced with a challenge, engineers evaluate various potential solutions and select one that best meets the criteria for success.They build and test it, revising it until an acceptable solution is achieved.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the characteristics, and make qualitative observations, of plants found in the Amazon rainforest.
  • Design and build a model shelter from "local" materials.

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.

  • 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 ) More Details

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    This Performance Expectation 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:

  • Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. (Grades 3 - 5 ) More Details

    View aligned curriculum

    Do you agree with this alignment?

    This Performance Expectation focuses on the following Three Dimensional Learning aspects of NGSS:
    Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
    Generate and compare multiple solutions to a problem based on how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the design problem.

    Alignment agreement:

    At whatever stage, communicating with peers about proposed solutions is an important part of the design process, and shared ideas can lead to improved designs.

    Alignment agreement:

    Engineers improve existing technologies or develop new ones to increase their benefits, to decrease known risks, and to meet societal demands.

    Alignment agreement:

  • Models are used to communicate and test design ideas and processes. (Grades 3 - 5 ) More Details

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  • Each plant or animal has different structures or behaviors that serve different functions (Grade 2 ) More Details

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  • All living things share similar characteristics, but they also have differences that can be described and classified (Grade 4 ) More Details

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  • Create and evaluate models of plant and/or animal systems or parts (Grade 5 ) More Details

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Suggest an alignment not listed above

Materials List

Each group needs:

  • 1 sheet of wax paper, approximately 12-in x 12-in
  • Amazon Plant Leaves Template
  • kite string, 2 feet
  • 45+ hole punch reinforcers (1 sheet) or masking tape cut into small pieces approx. ¼" x ¼"
  • 5 popsicle sticks
  • 1 Dixie Cup or small bowl
  • Student Guide Worksheet

Each student needs:

  • 1 cake tray
  • 1 clay or sticky putty packet

Worksheets and Attachments

Visit [www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/csm_amazon_lesson3_activity1_tg] to print or download.

More Curriculum Like This

The Need for Shelter

As part of the continuing adventure scenario for this unit, students build shelters to protect themselves from the rain. After the shelters are built, the class performs durability and waterproof testing on the shelters.

Elementary Lesson
Simple Machines and Modern Day Engineering Analogies

Students apply the mechanical advantages and problem-solving capabilities of six types of simple machines (wedge, wheel and axle, lever, inclined plane, screw, pulley) as they discuss modern structures in the spirit of the engineers and builders of the great pyramids.

Live Like an Animal

Students design innovative human shelters that are inspired and informed by animal structures. Each group is assigned an animal class, and then they gather information about shelters used by the animals in that class.

Middle School Activity
Copycat Engineers

Students are introduced to the idea of biomimicry—or looking to nature for engineering ideas. Students learn about a few fun examples of the many creative and useful instances of biomimicry.

Middle School Lesson

Introduction/Motivation

Refer to the storyline provided in the Introduction/Motivation section of the associated lesson 3.

Procedure

  • Give groups a time limit for setup in each step of testing their shelters.
  • Collect any leftover wax paper, which limite students to use only the leaves they cut out.

Assessment

Worksheets: Have student groups complete and hand-in activity worksheets.

Activity Extensions

Prior to building the shelters, have students cut out some of the leaves to scale (using green butcher paper or similar) to help them understand how large some of these leaves really are. You might decorate your classroom in an Amazon rainforest theme, or even have the class construct a life-sized shelter using large dowel rods, string, tape and the paper cut-outs. Students remember the variety of plants better if they see how large the plant leaves can grow.

Copyright

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

Supporting Program

Adventure Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Acknowledgements

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 NSF, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: March 22, 2019

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