Optional Teaching Supplies

Materials for this Unit

Many EiE lessons use materials that are commonly available at grocery, hardware, or craft stores. To obtain kit materials, either visit our EiE store to purchase a kit that includes materials for up to 30 students, or create your own kit based on the materials list printed in the teacher guide or the downloadable list below.

Each unit includes a letter to send home with student for materials donation for the unit. Click here to download a copy of this letter in Spanish.

Additional Storybooks for Classroom Use

Storybooks introduce each unit with the tale of a child somewhere around the world who solves a problem through engineering. The books integrate literacy and social studies into the unit and illustrate for students the relevance of STEM subjects. 

Explore the Lessons

Students think about what technology is and are introduced to the idea that engineers design technologies.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

What is Technology? / Grade 4 / Worcester, MA

Students think about what technology is and are introduced to the idea that engineers design technologies.

Extension Lessons

What are Extension Lessons?

Extension Lessons use EiE activities as a springboard to more directly reinforce other curricular concepts.

View all Extension Lessons »

Hikaru’s family owns a toy shop in Tokyo and business has always been good—but now a new toy store across town is drawing customers away. Hikaru happens to visit his neighbor, a transportation engineer and learns that she’s working on a new project: a maglev train system. That gives him an idea! Can Hikaru and his friends engineer an amazing model maglev train system that will attract customers back to his family’s store?

Download a PDF of our storybook illustrations.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Hikaru's Toy Troubles / Grade 5 / Hollywood, FL
Click here for a more in-depth look

Reflection Questions

What do you notice about the conversations Kelly has with students as she prepares them to read Hikaru’s Toy Troubles?

Kelly has students share what they already know about the setting of the story and the science and engineering topics that are introduced in the book.

  • After explaining that the book is about transportation engineers, Kelly has kids share their ideas about what engineers might do for a job. (0:54)
  • To help activate prior science knowledge, Kelly asks her students, “What do you already know about magnets?” (1:37)
  • After introducing the term maglev train, Kelly has students analyze the root words to help them understand its meaning. (4:16)
  • Finally, Kelly asks students to share what they know about Japan, the setting of the story. (5:54)

What Common Core literacy strategies do you see Kelly incorporating into the reading of the storybook?

Kelly incorporates opportunities for word study, interactive read-alouds, and guided reading.

  • At the laptop center, students define and draw pictures of vocabulary words from the book. (7:49)
  • Small group reading sessions provide opportunities for differentiated instruction and discussion. (9:05 and 9:37)
  • Students take turns reading aloud to increase fluency and comprehension. (11:37)

Students think like transportation engineers as they improve the safety and efficiency of a model intersection

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Steering Clear of Danger / Grade 4 / Medford, MA
Click here for a more in-depth look

Reflection Questions

What strategies do you see Kathleen using to make sure all of her students understand her directions and know her expectations?

Kathleen uses visuals and modeling along with student questioning to reinforce her expectations.

  • Kathleen uses chart paper to display the definition of "transportation engineer" that she expects her students to use and understand. (0:27)
  • Kathleen reviews the roles students will have, and then has students tell her what they think each person (the motorist, the transportation engineer) will do. (2:38)
  • Kathleen demonstrates how to travel through the intersection by walking it herself and modeling how to turn appropriately. (3:24)


What evidence do you see that Kathleen spent time preparing for this lesson before the class started?

Kathleen has prepared visuals and prepped materials for the lesson.

  • The Guiding Question for Lesson 2 has been written on chart paper before class. (0:27)
  • The intersection is laid out in tape on the floor before the lesson begins. (3:11)
  • Kathleen has provided clipboards for the transportation engineers to use as they record movement through the intersection. (3:47)
Steering Clear of Danger / Grade 5 / Hollywood, FL
Click here for a more in-depth look

Reflection Questions

What evidence do you see that Kelly spent time preparing for this activity before the class started?

Kelly sketched out the model intersection in chalk, prepared observation sheets and clipboards for the engineers, and assembled stop signs and traffic lights for students to use to improve traffic flow.

  • Before class, Kelly drew the model intersection in chalk on the playground and indicated traffic directions with arrows. (5:52)
  • Student engineers are able to record their observations easily because Kelly provided clipboards and pencils for her students to take outside. (6:03)
  • As suggested in the guide, Kelly colored and laminated stop signs and traffic lights for students to add to the intersection. (7:18)

What evidence do you see that Lesson 2 helps students better understand the work of transportation engineers?

The activities in the lesson allow students to engage in the work of transportation engineers and use that experience to expand their understanding of the role of engineers in general.

  • After interacting with the model intersection, students were able to talk about the choices engineers make to improve safety for vehicles and pedestrians. (8:46)
  • By comparing before and after ideas about what transportation engineers do, Kelly provides time for students to reflect on their own growth in understanding. (9:40) 

Students engage in several experiments to learn more about the properties of magnets.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
A Magnetic Personality / Grade 5 / Hollywood, FL
Click here for a more in-depth look

Reflection Questions

What do you notice about the way Kelly’s students behave in groups and handle self-directed task?

Kelly has fostered a culture of independence and responsibility; her students have the freedom to explore what interests them.

  • Kelly supplies the materials and directions for each station in a bag and students are able to read directions and conduct experiments independently. (0:48)
  • As students work, Kelly is free to move between groups, asking questions and supporting individual learning. (2:24)
  • Kelly’s students explore playfully and appropriately at each station. They expand their explorations beyond what is included in the direction sheets. (2:10 and 3:03)

How does exploration at the magnet stations help prepare and motivate students for the design challenge in Lesson 4?

Although Kelly’s students have studied magnets in the past, Lesson 3 directs them to apply knowledge to particular situations.

  • The magnetic sailing station introduces the idea that magnets can be used to solve real-world problems. One student muses that real boats might be able to be moved with magnets. (1:54)
  • Students explore the power of magnets to move things, including using the repelling force to push magnets along a desk or up into the air. This feature of magnets becomes critical when designing a maglev vehicle. (2:03 and 2:28)
  • Several students investigate whether magnetic fields can pass through paper or plastic. This property becomes important when choosing construction materials for their trains in Lesson 4. (3:05)
  • Finally, the explorations make them want to try to building their own maglev transportation systems. (2:11)
A Magnetic Personality / Grade 4 / Medford, MA
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Reflection Questions

What unique assessment opportunities do Kathleen's interactions with small groups provide?

By talking to students in small groups, Kathleen is able to assess their understanding of the properties of magnets, and push them to experiment further with their properties.

  • When students at the Magnetic Sailing Station are not able to get the boat to come back by flipping the stack of magnets, Kathleen challenges them to think of another way to create this reaction. (2:00)
  • Kathleen asks a student to describe what is happening when the disc magnet is being repelled across the table. While the activity does not explicitly have students push the magnets across the table, the conversation provides an opening for Kathleen to guide students to describe what is going on. (6:30)

What evidence do you see that Kathleen's students are beginning to develop an understanding about the properties of magnets?

While students are experimenting at the activity stations, we see students using the vocabulary Kathleen has introduced related to magnets and asking their own questions about the properties of magnets.

  • A student describes a type of force field around the magnets. Kathleen asks, "Who knows what that force field is called?" The student names the phenomenon, saying it is a magnetic field. (4:00)
  • A student asks how you could figure out the poles of a magnet without having a magnet that's marked. Another student in the group says he doesn't think you can. Kathleen pushes the student to thoroughly explain his thought. (7:00)

Students use their knowledge of the properties of magnets and the Engineering Design Process to design a maglev transportation system.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Designing a Maglev System / Grade 4 / Medford, MA
Click here for a more in-depth look

Reflection Questions

How does Kathleen's introduction serve to connect today's Lesson 4 activities with what students have already done?

Kathleen's introduction positions the lesson within a sequence, making specific reference to how it builds on previous activities. 

  • Kathleen asks a series of questions that help students recall what the challenge is and how they will judge success. (0:49 and 3:05)
  • She shows the Properties of Magnets chart they made in Lesson 3. She discusses why they made that chart and how it will help them today. (1:30)
  • Using the posters on the wall, she reviews the three steps of the EDP they have completed and provides a context for the Create step. (4:02)

What different types of prompts does Kathleen use to help deepen her students' thinking about the design challenge?

Kathleen asks questions that encourage students to apply their knowledge, evaluate what they do, and form explanations. 

  • Kathleen is asking students to apply prior knowledge when she says, "Check the poles. What do they have to be?" (6:48)
  • Kathleen is reviewing an important part of the engineering process when she asks, "Why is it important to record something about your first design?" (8:09)
  • Kathleen looks for a scientific explanation when she asks, "Do you know why that occurred?" (12:23)
Designing a Maglev System / Grade 5 / Hollywood, FL
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Reflection Questions

What important points about the process of engineering does Kelly review in her final discussion?

  • She points out that engineers have more success when they work in groups (11:48) and that building on one another’s ideas is not “copying.” (12:28)
  • She explains ideas that do not work are not necessarily mistakes; sometimes you need to try things to learn if they work. (12:05)
  • She implies that the improvement process is continual, and engineers are always improving their work. (12:15)

In what ways, and in what parts of the lesson, does Kelly reinforce each step of the Engineering Design Process?

Kelly explicitly calls out each of the five steps and makes students aware of their own progress through the steps.

  • For the Ask step, Kelly fields questions about the design challenge (1:49) and has students record properties of magnets they have already asked about that might help them with the design challenge. (4:38)
  • For the Imagine Step, students look at a bag of sample materials and brainstorm two ideas for building the maglev transportation system. (5:44)
  • Before moving to the Create step, groups must work together to decide on one Plan that they will build. (7:26)
  • After developing a Plan, Kelly reminds her students that testing is part of the Create step and gives them 30 minutes to create and test. (8:10)
  • Kelly has students use the last page of the EDP packet to record their ideas for Improving their transportation system, and gives them 30 minutes to work on improvements. (10:10)