STEM in a BOX - Shakin' Up the Classroom: K-3EarthScienceSTEMintheboxprint.docx

Type Category
Instructional Materials
Activity , Lesson/Lesson Plan
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.


Average Rating

3 (1 reviews)

5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
Most Recent Review

1 Not for K-1

This is not for K-1 nor meets what it initially said it was supposed to be in the standards. This is earth science, not physical science.


In this engaging lesson, the students examine and describe materials and their properties in order to assemble these materials into a strong building that could withstand the earth shaking. The physical science core ideas in the Performance Expectation are met through a larger earth science/earthquake unit that is part of the unit level resource.

Go to the resource listed under K-3: k-3EarthScienceSTEMintheboxprint.docx

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Elementary School
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

2-PS1-3 Make observations to construct an evidence-based account of how an object made of a small set of pieces can be disassembled and made into a new object.

Clarification Statement: Examples of pieces could include blocks, building bricks, or other assorted small objects.

Assessment Boundary: none

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

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The Performance Expectation is embedded within a larger unit and is aligned through this larger cross-disciplinary focus. As this is a difficult concept, this may be the optimal way to address this Performance Expectation.

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
This practice is met explicitly through the carrying out of the lesson. The teacher could ask the students to list the possible materials for the structure, and then develop a list that describes the materials in a chart. Next, the students could circle the adjectives (sturdy, strong, rigid or flexible) that would withstand the earthquake and provide reasoning. At the close of the activity the class would be able to revisit this discussion and decide if the evidence they collected confirmed their predictions.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
There is not an emphasis on the great variety of objects, as the students are designing buildings and other structures. Providing a variety of materials for students to choose from in order to recreate their structures in a new design or with different materials, would be a great extension activity that would strengthen the Core Idea.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The Crosscutting Concept is nicely aligned in the unit as part of a larger cross-disciplinary question. The teacher could ask questions that support initial ideas about energy and matter, for example, "When the structure swayed, how did the materials change shape?" and "Did you see more changes in the shape of the building materials as the shaking got stronger? How would you predict the shape of the building materials would change if the shaking got really violent? Explain your thinking."

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson, as part of a larger unit, demonstrates a strong alignment with the intent of the NGSS and three-dimensional learning.

  • Instructional Supports: This lesson, part of the larger unit on earthquakes, addresses the Performance Expectation, and would be a strong inclusion in another engineering activity. The unit as a whole would align with other Performance Expectations in the NGSS and would be a nice resource to bundle.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The lesson would need to be modified to monitor student progress. As written, it might be difficult to assess students' level of understanding and performance of the practice in a larger class environment. The teacher could include an individual journal assignment where the students could track their own thinking and their team's development. This would be a nice addition for a formative assessment opportunity.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There are videos included in the larger lesson, but they are mostly designed to meet the performances related to earth science and earth quakes. The videos are high quality.