Category: 21st Century skills

  • Building Levers & Catapults with the Lifter Sisters

    The Lifter Sisters, a trio of science-loving siblings, serve as guides on this project-based-learning adventure. This 3-session unit covers all three classes of levers and culminates in a catapult design challenge. Students will build simple examples of each type of lever. Then, using their models and the Engineering Design Process, teams compete to design and build a catapult capable of hurling a pom-pom across the room! This bundle contains three lessons, three slideshow presentations with scripts, and an anchor chart showing a variety of fasteners.

    BONUS: The Kool Kat team uses the Gizmo Rig, a simple staging platform, for our lessons on simple machines and mechanical engineering. Students can build this reusable tool from common materials in one class session. This bundle includes a material list, complete plans and a step-by-step construction guide for building a class set of Gizmo Rig platforms.

    See our blog post for samples of the Gizmo Rig in action:

    Introducing the Gizmo Rig

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  • To Mars and Back

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    Humans have dreamed of visiting Mars since the 1880s, but getting there isn’t easy. Using a game board modeled after the orbits of Mars and Earth, student teams will plot a course to Mars and back. As they plan their Mars mission, students will use the same navigation method that NASA uses for interplanetary travel – the Hohmann Transfer Orbit. You can use this STEM activity, and the included Rover’s slideshow to introduce a Solar System unit or a Mars rover design project. In addition to planning their voyage, students will also learn the uses, design, and history of space rovers from 1970 to the present. The full bundle includes the following:

    • PowerPoint slideshow to introduce teams to Rovers
    • Differentiated lesson plan to explain the requirements and methodology of the Mars Mission activity
    • Spreadsheet with Hohmann transfer orbit cycles
    • Video links that explain and demonstrate the Hohmann Transfer Orbit method
    • Teacher Notes and charts

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  • SketchUp Mars Rover Activity

    SketchUp is a 3D modeling software used by engineers, architects, and designers around the world. It is very powerful and can be used to build highly detailed models.

    This step-by-step worksheet guides novice SketchUp users as they build a 3D model of a Mars rover chassis and wheels. Each step has a clear explanation and screenshot. The model is basic so that students can concentrate on the core tools needed to be successful with SketchUp.

    This step-by-step guide works well with the companion slideshow, SketchUp Fundamentals – Mars Rover Edition.

    If your students enjoy building the rover chassis, consider adding the SketchUp Mars Rover Expansion Pack to your Mars unit. This add-on product builds on the rover chassis by adding a cargo box, passenger bench, dashboard, windshield, and steering wheel.

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  • Build a Circuit

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    Kids love using “real” tools to create a project – when you add a few volts of electricity, they are hooked!  This is the first in a series of three electricity units. This lesson takes students through five mini-challenges that will challenge even students who have previous experience building a simple circuit. Each challenge has information that will inform both the rookie and novice junior electrician. The experiences the kids gain using wire strippers, cutting and splicing wires, and building open and closed circuits will be used in all three Kool Kat Science electricity units.

    • Mini-Challenge 1: Looking at a Load
    • Mini-Challenge 2: Light the Lamp
    • Mini-Challenge 3: Draw a Circuit
    • Mini-Challenge 4: Splice a Wire
    • Mini-Challenge 5: Add a Switch

    Teachers are supported with the following resource materials in this bundle.

    1. A PDF with the full lesson.
    2. Three slideshow presentations
      1. EDP slideshow (for students)
      2. Teacher presentation to guide the lesson
      3. Circuit Symbol presentation (also available as a separate product)
    3. Two lab handouts fitted to a 6 x 8 lab notebook
    4. One tool safety handout for notebook
    5. One electricity chart
    6. An introduction to electricity document that tracks this content and the other two electricity lessons
    7. One Step-by-Step guide (for teacher)
    8. How-to Strip Wires resource

    Buy our helpful resource for introducing your class to electricity!

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    Understanding Blueprints


    Understanding Blueprints

    This presentation introduces blueprints associated with the sled kite, diamond kite, delta kite, sode kite, and rokkaku kite while explaining the details of the blueprint and how they are used to make the kite’s sail and adding the dowels.

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  • Discover the Skies with Kites

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    This four-lesson unit uses an engineering approach to build a kite. Teams test their material options, then select their sail and spar materials. While building the kite, students use tools such as a wood file, side cutting pliers, and sandpaper. Don’t forget the safety glasses!  The unit features a customizable design challenge, kite design options, and a budget-conscious material list. Created by a teacher/engineer writing team, this bundle includes procedures and technical tips to aid teachers as they troubleshoot design problems.

    Discover the Skies With Kites is packed with graphical resources, notebook inserts, and helpful tips from a teacher and engineer.

    Lesson One supports include:

    • Testing Kite Materials videos for testing sails and spars
    • Two slideshows to support lesson one:
      • An Introduction to Kites
      • Kites in Flight, an introduction to principles of flight
    • Two teacher support documents
    • Three lab worksheets for students (sail testing, spar testing, and kite design)

    Lesson Two supports include:

    • Two slideshows to support lesson two:
      • Craftsman’s Way (a tool to introduce criteria for quality work)
      • Cloud Banners (examples of ways kites can be used)
    • One Google Sheet for converting DL units to centimeters
    • One Student Lab sheet that outlines how to make a model and why a model is useful
    • One teacher’s key for checking student work

    Lesson Three supports include:

    • One slideshow: Kite Blueprints (to help students read a kite template/blueprint)
    • One student Lab sheet that to help students make a pattern for their sail
    • One teacher key for checking student work

    Lesson Four supports include:

    • Step-by-step guides for building three classic kites: diamond, delta, and sled.

    BONUS: The bundle includes an illustrated knot tying handout and Step-by-Step instructions for a testing platform called the Gizmo Rig. The Gizmo Rig is useful for a host of STEM applications.

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