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

Videos
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 »

When his family moves to rural Alcantara, Brazil, so his parents, who are aerospace engineers, can work on a space mission, Paulo is not happy. He misses his best friend Andre, and the last thing he wants to do is make friends with his  new neighbor, Lucas. But then Paulo finds himself working with Lucas to solve an aerospace challenge of their own—designing a parachute that can safely float a large, heavy, and delicious fruit down from a forest tree. Will their mission succeed?

Download a PDF of our storybooks illustrations.
 

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Parachutes Storybook / Grade 4 / Fall River, MA
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Reflection Questions

What strategies do you see Jean using to prepare and preview content that will be focused on by students in later lessons?

When science or engineering content relevant to later lessons is mentioned, Jean probes her students to make predictions or give supporting evidence about the statements.

  • When the story mentions a parachute drifting slowly, Jean asks students why they think it fell slowly, setting them up to think about factors that would affect the speed of a falling parachute (1:35). We see students responding by drawing from previous experience; they discuss an experiment they did about dropping paper. (2:15)
  • Jean also guides students to explain, in their own words, how a parachute works by having them share how they would explain it to a second grader.  This leads them to comment on how the parachute and the air interact. (5:50)

How do you see Jean reinforcing the steps of the Engineering Design Process with her students?

Jean reinforces the Ask, Imagine, and Plan steps of the EDP by asking her students for ideas about what they should do prior to making their parachutes. They also review the characters’ use of the EDP by looking to the storybook for descriptions.

  • After reading the story, Jean asks students what they think the class should do before making their parachutes (leading them to brainstorm how they could complete the Ask step). Based on answers given, it is clear that Jean’s students already have experience using the steps of the EDP; asking them to brainstorm first steps lets them proactively use the EDP as a tool. (7:35)
  • In small groups, students fill out the EDP worksheet and look to the text for evidence. (9:35)
  • Finally, the group reviews completed worksheets together, sharing more ideas about how the EDP was used in the story. (10:45)
Parachutes Storybook / Grade 3 / Stillwater, MN
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Reflection Questions

What strategies do you see Corrie using to make sure she implements the EiE lessons as they are written in the guide?

Corrie keeps the teacher’s guide on her lap as a reference throughout the reading session and has placed sticky notes in the storybook to remind her of the questions she should be asking her students.

  • Corrie glances down at the Parachutes Teacher Guide for direction as she begins to read Paulo’s Parachute Mission. (1:24)
  • Before class, Corrie placed green post-it notes inside the book to remind her of questions to ask or ideas to reinforce during the story. (5:11)  

What do you notice about the way Corrie reviewed the EDP with her students?

Rather than showing the EDP poster included in the EiE kit, Corrie elicited ideas from her students about the steps, and filled in a blank EDP graphic organizer on her white board.  

  • After a child identifies the Ask step, Corrie hand writes it in the red circle on her graphic and goes on to explain what the step entails. (7:40)
  • Corrie elicits the names of the EDP steps from her students and then focuses their attention on ordering the steps. (8:01)

Students use information about the temperature, atmosphere, and surface of a planet to imagine how a spacecraft traveling to that planet might be designed.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Think Like an Aerospace Engineer / Grade 3 / Stillwater, MN
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Reflection Questions

Where do you see evidence that Corrie’s students have had training in the norms and expectations for classroom discourse?

Corrie’s students seem to be familiar with Accountable Talk strategies and are thoughtful and responsive when discussing ideas with peers.

  • When Matthew answers Corrie’s question about what an aerospace engineer does, he shares the connections he is making between what he knows about the definitions of words and what he learned in the storybook. (00:56)
  • Corrie’s students justify and build on each other’s ideas as they negotiate the shape of the spacecraft they are designing. (4:58)

Trying to foster creativity in her students, how does Corrie frame the role of the imagination in spacecraft design?

Rather than discussing whether their spacecraft designs would actually work, Corrie focuses on the important role of imagination and perseverance in engineering. This sets her students up nicely for the Imagine step of the design challenge.

  • Corrie refers to some of the ideas of engineers as “crazy and outrageous”. (6:06)
  • Corrie reminds students that many people did not have faith in the imaginative idea to send a spacecraft to the moon. (6:26)
  • She points out that many ideas that are very common now (like flight) are due to people who, “imagine possibilities and are brave enough to take that step”. (6:28)
Think Like an Aerospace Engineer / Grade 4 / Fall River, MA
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Reflection Questions

Why do you think it is useful for Jean to engage her students in a discussion about celestial bodies and what they already know about spacecraft before they begin designing?

Students spend much of their time in this lesson imagining spacecraft designs that need to be well suited to their destinations. Having them begin to share information and build common understanding while the whole class is together creates a useful foundation.

  • Jean asks students to name some factors they might need to consider when designing spacecraft. This allows students to brainstorm and think critically about criteria and constraints that aerospace engineers must consider. (1:45)
  • One student shares that she knows some spacecraft can carry people, and others cannot. This is very relevant to the lesson as it is something that groups will need to consider for their own imagined spacecraft designs. (6:45)

What benefits do you see from returning to the Guiding Question at the end of the lesson?

By asking students to return to the Guiding Question, Jean is able to assess what they are taking away from the lesson and recap some of the main points.

  • Jean asks students to name some factors they might need to consider when designing spacecraft. This allows students to brainstorm and think critically about criteria and constraints that aerospace engineers must consider. (1:45)
  • One student shares that she knows some spacecraft can carry people, and others cannot. This is very relevant to the lesson as it is something that groups will need to consider for their own imagined spacecraft designs. (6:45)

Students learn about air resistance and test three isolated variables used in the design of parachutes.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Slow and Steady Wins the Race / Grade 4 / Fall River, MA
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Reflection Questions

What evidence do you see that Jean is reinforcing science practice skills throughout this lesson?

Jean spends a lot of time reviewing variables and experimental procedures in this lesson.

  • As students learn about the variables that will be tested by different groups, Jean asks the class to tell her which variables will change and which will be kept the same in each case. This guides students to think about controlling variables when experimenting. (4:10)
  • Prior to moving into the hallway for testing, Jean points out that each group will test three times. She then asks students to comment on why multiples tests could be important, guiding students to identify the importance of using multiple trials to verify results. (8:35)

How do we see Jean helping students to organize ideas and findings throughout this lesson?

Jean refers back to the Guiding Question several times throughout the lesson, and posts findings related to the Guiding Question for the whole class to see.

  • Jean records findings after the atmosphere demo on the same sheet that lists the Guiding Question. This means that the main question students are working on throughout the lesson and their resulting findings are visually in the same space and easy to refer back to. (2:50)
  • Similarly, after testing parachute variables, Jean has each group report their findings to the class and records a summary statement about each variable on the Guiding Question chart. (11:15)
Slow and Steady Wins the Race / Grade 3 / Stillwater, MN
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Reflection Questions

Corrie’s plans to have students test parachutes in the spacious auditorium fell through at the last minute. How did she adjust her plans and make the testing work in her small classroom?

Corrie conducts the testing herself from atop a ladder as students watch from the rug.

  • Corrie tapes two yardsticks and ruler to the side of a bookcase to indicate the drop height of 7 feet. (7:20)
  •  Corrie has all of her students gather at the rug so they can watch the parachutes hit the ground. (7:47)
  • From the ladder, Corrie can only drop two parachutes at a time. Although the students miss the opportunity to watch all three versions of the parachutes drop together, they can extrapolate results between tests. (8:09)

Corrie’s students are still developing their understanding of what “thickness” of an atmosphere means, and how it might affect falling parachutes. How does Corrie handle struggles with this concept?

Corrie assesses student thinking at several points throughout the lesson. She allows them to grapple with the effects of gravity and atmosphere thickness before mentioning ideas like air resistance and drag

  • When presenting the Guiding Question, Corrie elicits student’s initial ideas about what an atmosphere thinner than Earth’s might be like. Although one child’s response seems to confusing a thin atmosphere with no gravity, Corrie accepts the response and moves on. (1:12)
  • When Corrie introduces the water and air containers as representations of atmospheres, one student predicts the item in the air-filled container will fall faster, but admits that she “doesn’t know really how to explain it.” Corrie does not pressure her to explain, but validates her prediction. (2:55)
  • When asked why they think a parachute with a small canopy will fall faster than the large one, a student replies, “it’s because it’s got less weight.” Corrie just says, “Okay.” and continues testing. (8:26)
  • After students have actually watched the behavior of several parachutes, one student mentions that the larger canopy can “hold air” and the small one “cannot hold enough air”. Only then does Corrie reinforce the idea with terms like resistance and drag. (9:44) 

Students apply their knowledge of air resistance and aerospace engineering as they imagine, plan, create, test, and improve their own parachutes.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Designing a Parachute (1) / Grade 4 / Fall River, MA
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Reflection Questions

How do you see Jean emphasizing the math embedded in this lesson?

Jean models many of the math skills students will need as she facilitates a whole group discussion before students begin working in small groups.

  • Before students begin testing, Jean does a thorough example of the Packing Score in front of the class, pointing out the math terms (like radius and diameter) and modeling skills (measurement, multiplication) students will need to use. (2:45)
  • Jean works with the class to calculate an example Packing Score and then guides them to look to the scale in their journals to determine whether the example parachute is Mission Ready. She then gives an example of a larger Packing Score and asks them to use the same scale to determine if the larger score is Mission Ready. (4:40)
  • Jean asks students to give suggestions for what they could change if their parachute was not mission ready, which requires students to think about how manipulating numbers that are included in the Packing Score formula will affect the result. (5:30)

What types of questions do you see Jean asking as she interacts with groups before they Plan?

Jean guides students to think deeply about choices they are making by asking students to justify their thoughts on materials or refer to previous findings.

  • Jean checks in again with groups on their Packing Score, asking them how they might change the sizes of some variables to ensure their design is Mission Ready. (8:30)
  • Jean asks students to remember how certain materials performed in past testing. In one case, when a student comments that a material is not a good choice because it is delicate and this was not supported by past data, Jean challenges the student to think more about her ideas. (8:50)
Designing a Parachute (2) / Grade 4 / Fall River, MA
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Reflection Questions

How do you see Jean emphasizing the math embedded in this lesson?

Jean encourages her students to do the necessary measurement for the parachutes they will be testing, and pushes them to complete the necessary calculations even if it’s math work they have not done previously.

  • Groups measure their own parachute radius as part of the Create step. (0:55)
  • Jean discusses with the group that they will round results to the nearest tenth of a second, and gives an example number that she has students round to the nearest tenth. (2:05)
  • We see Jean give a group a calculator to find their average drop speed. They’ve not divided decimals before, but Jean pushes their math skills by having them use the calculator to do the math problem and then use their own past experience to round to the nearest tenth. (3:30)
  • While students used calculators to determine average drop speeds, Jean still checks to make sure they understand the meaning behind the number. She asks if anyone can explain what the average drop speed means, guiding students to verbalize their mathematical thinking. (4:45)

What questions and strategies do you see Jean using to encourage her students to analyze class data?

Jean asks about possible correlations between variables and average drop speed.

  • Jean asks if students see a correlation between canopy size, suspension line length, and drop speed. A student is able to state a correlation, noting that when you had bigger suspension lines and canopies you had a lower average drop speed. (6:00)
  • After groups have tested improved designs, Jean posts their new data in the same chart as the old data. This allows students to directly see how variables were changed and how that affected drop speeds. (10:00)
  • When posting new average drop speeds, Jean asks groups to decide whether the new speed is better or worse than the old drop speed. This requires groups to compare the values in feet per second to answer the question. (10:05)
Designing a Parachute / Grade 3 / Stillwater, MN
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Reflection Questions

In what ways, and in what parts of the lesson, does Corrie reinforce the steps of the Engineering Design Process?

Corrie uses the EiE handouts, overhead displays, and the story book to reinforce the steps of the EDP.

  • Corrie uses the EiE handout packet that includes a page for each child to fill out for each step of the EDP. (3:35, 4:17, and 7:37)
  • Before moving on the Improve step, Corrie displays a graphic of the Engineering Design Process and reviews the Ask, Imagine, Plan and Create steps of the EDP.  (8:30)
  • At the end of the lesson, Corrie refers back to the storybook and reminds students that Paulo’s mother used the EDP in her work as an aerospace engineer. (10:30)

What did students take away from the testing of their first parachute design that helped them when they went to improve their designs?

In their discussion with Corrie after testing their first parachute designs, students reveal that they have a better understanding of how parachutes work and the variables that affect their drop speed.

  • After watching all the parachutes fall, two students were able to see how the length of the suspension lines affects the canopy’s ability to open fully. (9:08 and 9:26)
  • Another student uses gestures and words to describe how “more air will get trapped” in a larger canopy and cause it to drop “very slow.” (9:32)