To get us prepared for the main engineering project, Grade 4 will run through a sequence of short challenges, on a rotation, each day for the first week of the unit. At the end of each challenge, teams should run through a reflection protocol to share what the activity was, what they got out of it and what they might do differently next time. The order that the challenges are completed in doesn’t matter.

 

Activity 1: Toothpick tower

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Which team can create the tallest tower using only toothpicks and modeling clay? This engineering challenge is simply about making the tallest tower possible. The team with the tallest tower at the end, wins the challenge. There are a few simple rules:

  • 2 minutes at the beginning of the challenge is set aside for planning, discussion and sketching. No building is allowed until the teacher invites you to begin
  • You may only use toothpicks and modeling clay and the hight of the tower is measured from the base of the tower to its top
  • Reflect: What did your team do well? What can your team improve on next time? What was your role in the team? What can you do better next time?

 

Activity 2: Paper clip challenge

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Your task for this challenge is to create a new design for a paper clip. You may use card, wire, or other materials provided. You must practice using the pliers and other tools safely.

  • In your group, look closely at the examples and sketch different ideas for a new version
  • Work with your team to decide on the best ideas to prototype
  • Test your new design. How many pieces of paper can it hold together? What changes can you make to improve its performance?
  • Work with your team to decide on the best overall design
  • Pitch your design to another group and let them know what you would like feedback on. Is your new design an improvement? How? Then listen to the other groups’ pitch and offer them feedback on their design
  • Reflect on the activity and your final design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Activity 3: “Secret” paper airplane

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In this challenge, you will work with a partner. Sitting back-to-back, one person must instruct the other on how to fold a paper plane, in 2 minutes.

  • For the instructor: choose one of the designs or use your own technique
  • Carefully guide your partner through the specific steps and listen to their questions
  • For the maker: carefully follow the instructions and ask specific questions if you need to clarify
  • Test your plane in the designated area
  • Reflect: Was the plane the same as what the instructor intended? Why/why not? How could your plane be improved? What could you do differently next time to make the process and result better?

Image from “Fold’n’Fly” – click to see instructions : )

Activity 4: Catapult challenge

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In this challenge you will work with your team create a catapult to shoot a projectile into the target area(s). You may use the examples provided to guide you or make your own design. You may test your design 2 times and refine the design before the final test.

  • Look at the examples shown and sketch out a plan
  • Create your prototype using the materials available
  • Test your design up to 2 times in the testing area
  • Perform the final test and record your results
  • Reflect: How did you make your catapult go from “good” to “better”? How did you contribute to your team’s success? What do you need to improve on?

Activity 5: WeDo

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In this task you will use a Lego WeDo kit and the WeDo iPad app. Work as a team and follow the instructions in the app to complete a series of different WeDo engineering projects. Once you have completed at least 2 from the activity library, try to create a whole new invention. Perhaps you can team up with another group and create an invention from 2 WeDo kits!

 

Activity 6: Rescue pulley (Design Lab)

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In this challenge you will work in groups of 4 to lift an Edison robot from the ground to the workbench. 2 People are responsible for designing a pulley and the other 2 people are responsible for designing the carrier structure. The successful design will lift the Edison from the ground to the bench. Can you program the Edison to drive onto the carrier and then onto the bench??

  • Discuss the problem with your team. Select team members for each part of the task
  • Sketch and communicate different options for the design – how it will work, what it is made from and how it will be constructed?
  • Build and test the prototype
  • Demonstrate the prototype to another group. What would you like feedback on? Record the feedback from the other group
  • Give feedback on the other group’s design
  • Return to your design – will you take the feedback on board or reject it? How will you improve your design?
  • Reflect: How did you contribute to your team’s success? Why are pulleys useful? How many ways are pulleys used in everyday situations?