Catch Me If You Can!

Contributor
Kimberly Lott, Mark Wallin, Deborah Roghaar, and Tyson Price
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Article
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

This resource is an introductory kindergarten STEM unit that focused on building a trap to catch a gingerbread man.  This activity integrates STEM with literacy as students read, write, learn about pushes and pulls, and design a trap for the folktale, The Gingerbread Man.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Early Elementary
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access with user action - The right to view and/or download material without financial barriers but users are required to register or experience some other low-barrier to use.

Performance Expectations

K-2-ETS1-3 Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This article provides information on how to integrate math by creating graphs to see whether or not students' individual traps caught gingerbread men and how to analyze such graphs. The overall engineering activity does not focus on the push and pull when analyzing the data/traps. The data focused on which material (jewels, gold coins, or crystals) enticed the gingerbread man to their trap. In order to meet this performance expectation I would suggest that the class test their trap designs and see if it can actually "catch" a gingerbread man. Then I would lead students in a discussion to help them analyze data from the tested traps. In the article the final design does not focus on force (push and pull), so I would provide sentence starters or guiding questions to help students create and analyze data.

K-2-ETS1-2 Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This article explains how to conduct the engineering design and provides suggested materials. I would have my students draw out their design first explaining how their traps work before allowing them to use materials. Please note students are not doing much more than using the materials they are provided and designing a tool (a gingerbread man trap) to solve a problem. I would suggest having a discussion or have students journal about which materials they are choosing/using and why. I would also have them discuss how the shape of their trap helps to solve the problem.

K-2-ETS1-1 Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
In order to introduce the engineering activity the teacher must read or tell the students the folktale "The Gingerbread Man" and then create a scene (knock over books, mess up papers, over turn desks, etc) and say that, "I think the gingerbread man is loose in our school. What do you think we can do?" This will allow students to ask questions, make observations, and gather information before designing a trap. I would have students refer back to their drawings and have them work with a partner and a small group to ask questions, make observations, and gather additional information before starting their design. Possible questions could be, "Why did you decide to use this material?" "How will this material help you catch the gingerbread man?" "Where do you see a push or pull in your design?" "How might doing _____ add to your design?"

K-PS2-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object

Clarification Statement: Examples of pushes or pulls could include a string attached to an object being pulled, a person pushing an object, a person stopping a rolling ball, and two objects colliding and pushing on each other.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to different relative strengths or different directions, but not both at the same time. Assessment does not include non-contact pushes or pulls such as those produced by magnets.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Teachers will have to model and assist students in observing the pushes/pulls of the materials they used to create a "spring" to trap the gingerbread man.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Teachers can create a bar graph on the board and demonstrate how engineers collect data. The article provides suggestion on how to create such graphs. A worksheet is provided for students to graph which material enticed the gingerbread the most. This worksheet can be accessed at http://www.nsta.org/elementaryschool/connections/201312LottStudentBaitGraph.pdf

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students will work collaboratively with peers to conduct a basic trap design. This resource includes visual and concise directions on how to conduct the trap and the investigation.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
To help students gather evidence and test their models guiding questions are suggested in the unit to guide students in modifying their models. For example, "How will the gingerbread man spring the trap?" "What might the cup and strings be used for?"

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students are not really focusing on the directions of the trap, but on the push and pull that causes their trap to become unbalanced and spring the trap. Teachers should guide students into thinking about the materials they are selecting for their traps. Their trap has to be able to hold the gingerbread man once they catch them. Having a class discussion can help meet the core idea. Some possible questions might include, "“How did you use a push in your design?” Or, “How did you use a pull in your design?” “Does your trap work with a very soft push or pull?" Or, do you need a hard push or pull?”

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The article suggests cause and effect as the crosscutting concept, but I think structure and function is better suited for this unit. Students should explore and analyze the different traps that they created and discuss how the shape and stability allowed them to trap a gingerbread man.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The lesson aligns with the conceptual shifts of the NGSS. The science, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts work together to make sense of the phenomena.

  • Instructional Supports: Students are allowed to work collaboratively and the lesson integrates literacy and mathematics. This lesson is proposed as an introductory activity for STEM in the kindergarten setting to solve a real-world problem. Teachers should create a list of questions or sentence starters that students can complete in their journal to integrate writing. A gingerbread man trap materials usage sheet is provided and can be accessed at http://www.nsta.org/elementaryschool/connections/201312UsefulProperties.pdf . To provide additional instructional support I would create a chart for students to complete. It would consist of three columns - materials used, were these materials useful, why/why not.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Besides a few guiding questions and a rubric on page 3 and 4 that can be accessed at the following site: http://www.nsta.org/elementaryschool/connections/201312Lott.pdf this resource does not have any way of assessing students. Also, the rubric is not kid-friendly/appropriate for kindergarten so it is more for the teacher use. Teachers can combat this by having students participate in shared writing and have students illustrate (and if possible) write about their design throughout this entire process. Utilizing "I can statements" and sentence students with teacher support would be ideal in kindergarten.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: Technology (websites, videos, and etc.) is not integrated with this lesson. Please note, this resource does use the standard definition for technology "when you use science and engineering to develop a tool that can be used in our daily lives. These tools are sometimes called inventions." Teachers can use this point to drive home that technology is not just an electronic tool.