Here you will find all of the work we have done on our unit covering Strong and Stable Structures.  I will try to include a brief explanation of the lesson, as well as any worksheets we have used.

Lesson 1





Our unit started with a sheet with two questions on it.  We were to answer these two questions as best we could, without guidance.  Once we had written as much as we could, we used the back of the paper to make our title page for the unit.  Part way through class we stopped to discuss the concepts of "strength" - the ability to resist a force and "stability" - the ability to maintain balance and stay in place.



Lesson 2





Today we started with a review of the concepts of strength and stability.  We then talked about the concept of a structure (something that is designed to support a load).  We used a picture of a carnival to answer a series of questions, and then looked around our room to think more about structures.

Worksheet               Answers


Lesson 3

Scientist in the Classroom


Today we were really lucky.  Mrs. Laurie Kastelic from "Scientist in School" came to visit us for a half day session.  Scientist Laurie divided us into five groups and each group rotated through five stations, at which we did some really cool activities.  These activities are trade secrets, so we won't give too much away, but all we can say is that is was AWESOME.  Thanks Laurie!


Lesson 4

Structures Lab Report







After discussing all of the really cool things we did last class, with Scientist Laurie, we talked about what a scientist would do next (after completing an experiment).  We talked about the importance of documenting what was done and what was discovered, so that the information could be shared properly.  We also discussed that scientists often use lab reports to do this.  We then learned that that would be our task today.  Over the next two lessons we would be writing a full lab report for one of the activities we did with Laurie.  To get us started we talked about what needs to be included in our lab report, specifically the five sections:  purpose, equipment, procedure, observations and discussion.  We then discussed each section in detail, with an example from our ball drop experiment from last year (look at lessons 4 and 5 at this link).  The examples were left around the classroom, and we were given a template (which we could choose to use or not) to start writing.  We worked on it for the rest of the lesson, and all of the following.

Information and Examples               Template


Lesson 5






At the start of class we were told to stand our pencils on our desks.  Some of us were successful, others were not.  For those of us who were able to do it, we found that it did not take much to knock it over.  We discussed this activity in terms of how it related to stability, and reviewed that stability is the ability to maintain position.  We were then handed an experiment sheet.  We read through our sheet, made our hypothesis, and performed the experiment.  When we were done with the experiment, we took the procedure of the experiment and applied it to different sets of supplies (thick vs thin tubes, pencils, chalkboard erasers set up at different angles, etc).

Worksheet               Answers


Lesson 6

Increasing Stability





We re-capped our learning from our last experiment (that shorter structures are more stable than taller one), and then discussed that sometimes there is a need for tall structures.  We were then explained our task - we were to use the tubes and trays from last class, as well as a select few other supplies, to increase the stability of the tubes.  We were not given a procedure to follow, but instead were to plan the investigation ourselves.  Once our plan was complete we then tested our idea to determine if we had indeed increased the stability.

Worksheet               Answers


Lesson 7

Natural, Man-Made and Famous Structures



Today's concept was that there are structures that are natural (would exist without people) and structures that are man-made (made by people).  We did a few quick activities to enforce these ideas, but were done quite quickly.  This gave us time for our famous structures internet scavenger hunt.  We were given 11 pictures of famous structures and a table to fill in.  We had to find the name, the country and the city for each of these structures.

Worksheet               Famous Structure Pictures               Answers


Lesson 8

Material Properties




After reviewing structure, strength and stability, we next talked about material, which is something used to make an object.  We discussed that fact that all materials are not the same.  Materials have different properties (strength, flexibility, durability, etc) that allow them to be used for different things.  We read a short paragraph to explain some examples, and then got to work, looking at different objects and the materials from which they are made.

Worksheet               Answers


Lesson 9

Adding Strength to Materials







Our lesson today talked about how we can improve the strength of materials.  We reviewed some of the things we did with the scientist in the classroom (folding, layering, etc).  We were then shown a piece of scientific equipment known as a spring scale.  This is something that measures force.  We had a long conversation about the appropriate use of a spring scale, and that there are several different ones for measuring different magnitudes of forces.  We then practised using the spring scale by breaking loops of thread and recording the failure force.  We then twisted some threads together and repeated the process.  In doing so we noted that by twisting them the material was stronger.

In one week we will be having a science quiz.  All of the questions were sent home to help in your preparations.

Quiz Note


Lesson 10

Improving Strength






Today's activity was one that takes multiple periods to complete.  On the first day we sat down and read through our worksheet.  It explained that we were going to build a basic structure, then test to see how much it could hold.  We would then add supports to it and re-test it to see if we improved upon it.  We then sat down and looked at an example of the structure...and boy was it terrible.  The structure failed after placing a single piece of paper on it.  We then got to work, building our first structure and testing it.  On day two we came back and added our supports to the structure.  After doing so, one of the groups help up two paper back books, and another had 61 pieces of paper.  It was quite amazing to so how a few struts and ties could help so much.



Lesson 12






I did not get around to teaching this lesson, so I have not planned what I would do.

The expectations is to "explain how strength and stability enable a structure to perform a specific function."

Maybe I would talk about cranes, explaining and showing what they look like, the placement of supports.  Then talk about the purpose of the crane and what would happen if it was not strong enough, or unstable.  My son has a toy crane, it would be cool to bring that in and show it working, then replace part with a week link and watch it fail.  Then off balance it and watch it fail


Lesson 13



We used today's period to write out quiz.  If we were done early, we used our time to finish up other work.


Lesson 14

Affects of Forces




I did not get around to teaching this lesson, so I have not planned what I would do.

The expectations is to "describe ways in which different forces can affect the shape, balance, or position of structures."

The main idea here would have been to talk about how forces can change an object, or how they affect the surroundings.


Lesson 15

Human vs Animal Structures


I did not get around to teaching this lesson, so I have not planned what I would do.

The expectations is to "assess the environmental impact of structures built by various animals and those built by humans."


Lesson 16

Design Challenge




Today we started a three day design challenge.  On day one the challenge was explained to us;  we were to support an object as high as possible off of the ground, in front of a fan.  To make it even harder we only had 24 popsicle sticks, 10 straws, 2 pieces of paper and some glue.  In groups of 3 we started brainstorming, coming up with plans for our design.  On day 2 we built our design and tested it our self, making any adjustments we felt it needed.  then on the last day, after our final touch-ups, we did our final test in front of the fan.  After testing we then explained our rational for our choices.


This unit is not complete, I did not plan how I would incorporate the remaining expectations.