Franklin Towne Elementary School It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes a TOWNE to educate one.

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Circulumn for STEM 2017

Curriculum for STEM 2017-2018 – Franklin Towne Charter School

Ms. West - Grades 1 - 8


Grade 1 – Engineering of Fairy Tales – Once Upon a Time

  • Swim Away! – Students will be introduced to a book about three little fish trying to escape from a big, bad shark. Students will explore different types of homes and their ability to keep the little fish safe. Students will also discuss how many sea animals use the coral reef as their home, and they will construct their own model reef from a variety of tasty treats.
  • Who Eats Who? – Find out why the fish swam away from the shark! Students will discover the food chain and the importance it has in our environment. They will also identify the role of a producer and a consumer in the food chain. Students will then create their own three level food chain model.
  • Where Does the Troll Live? – Students will be introduced to a book about three Billy Goats who travel over a bridge that is home to a sleepy Troll. The Billy Goats’ hooves make too much noise and can wake the Troll. In this lesson, students will examine attributes of a beam bridge and they will identify the importance of pillars to support it. Then, they will attempt to build a strong beam bridge using a variety of geometric shapes!
  • Who’s Making All That Noise? – Shhh! The Billy Goats’ hooves are too loud and will wake the Troll! Students will explore the world of sound while they test a variety of materials to identify the best sound insulating material to cover the Billy Goats’ hooves while they cross the bridge so they will not wake the troll!

Grade 2 – Engineering of Cities – Our Town

  • From the Ground Up- Students will understand an overview of how skyscrapers are created, construct a model of a skyscraper using plane geometric figures, while working cooperatively with peers, test their skyscraper against the force of the wind, record the time it stands, modify their skyscraper to stand longer, create a bar graph to show the results and draw conclusions.
  • Over the River – Bridging the Gap – Students will understand the basic structure of two different bridge types: beam and truss, Identify structurally strong geometric shapes, design and build a simple truss bridge that can support a heavy, live load, and investigate how the construction of a bridge differs based on the bridge’s span.
  • Roads and Tunnels – Students will explore how civil engineers create roads to help us get around, create roads to that will allow people to move into their city, explore the concept of arches and identify places in the community where arches can be found, and create a tunnel that will allow a toy car to pass underneath and enter their city


Grade 3 – Engineering of Pirates – Ahoy Mates!

  • Does your Boat Float? – Students will explore the concepts of floating and sinking, design a basic boat using aluminum foil designed to hold a certain number of pennies without sinking, design a boat that is propelled by flowing water and modify their boat design to move in multiple directions.
  • Sail Away – Students will identify the basic parts of a sail boat, observe how the addition of a sail can help a boat use the power of wind to move, test various materials for a sail, and select a material based on observations during testing, and explore how pontoons help boats float and carry heavy loads
  • Diving for Treasure – Students will explore the concept of buoyancy, understand that marine engineers design various tools to help us explore the ocean and modify existing designs to improve the usefulness of an object or tool, and apply previous knowledge of material properties to create a Cartesian diver Design a hook that allows their Cartesian diver to retrieve buried treasure.


Grade 4 – Civil Engineering – Building Big

  • Straw and Paper Clip Bridge – This activity will challenge students to construct a bridge out of a non-bending straws and paper clips to create a navigable span. Students will attempt to create the strongest bridge that can accommodate a large load over a wide span. They will test dead and active loads, find the cost of their bridge, improve their bridges and create graphs to show their results.
  • Coasters 101 - Students will learn some basic properties of physics such as velocity, acceleration, and gravity and how they relate to rollercoasters, explore how inertia, friction, and energy can be both positive and negative aspects of the design process, understand the importance of building scale models of objects before presenting them to a panel for opinions, and understand why kinetic and potential energy are the two most important factors that determine the physical success and thrill of a rollercoaster.
  • Dome Sweet Dome - Students will build the strongest dome possible using various building materials like straws, paper clips, pipe cleaners, toothpicks, candy gum drops, and K'nex building sets.  Students will learn the importance of the forces, compression and tension, to hold structure together as well as important properties of geometric shapes.
  • Grade 5 – Engineering of Medieval Times – Castle Keepers!
  • Build a Castle – Student will identify various examples of civil engineering in everyday medieval life, explore the field of civil engineering by creating a castle for their royal kingdom, explore the key structural components of a castle home, and construct their own working drawbridge using recyclable materials.
  • Candy Catapults - Students will explore how tension relates to the launching of projectiles from a catapult, demonstrate the difference between an accurate launch and a precise launch, and represent real-world challenges by graphing points on a coordinate plane, and interpret coordinate values of points in the context of the situation.
  • Straight to the Point - Using the materials given, students will design, create, test and modify a bow and arrow that can hit a target. Students will calculate the probability ratio of their shots to determine the best archer. Students will learn how potential and kinetic energy are stored and produced in a longbow. Students will use online resources to answer questions about the history of longbows.


Grade 6 – Environmental Engineering – Keep It Clean!

  • Slick Solutions - Students in this lesson will be faced with one of the worst types of man-made disasters - an oil spill! They will explore the challenges associated with cleaning up an oil spill on budget and time schedule constraints. Using minimal resources, students will be challenged to design effective solutions that address both the containment and recovery stages of the cleanup process.
  • Natural Filtration - Students will engineer their own design for a water filtration system while learning about the water cycle. This lesson will explore how the earth filters water and the importance of fresh, clean water. Students will investigate the layers of the earth and tell how they naturally filter the world’s water supply.
  • Mining Mountains  - In this lesson, students explore the harmful effects of mining and its impact on local communities. Students work to devise their own efficient ways of mining materials and design their own containment system to protect the local community from dangerous debris.
  • Harnessing the Wind - Students learn about the history of wind power and its importance in ancient civilizations. They will investigate basic mechanics of windmills and how pollution free wind energy can be harnessed. Then they will further apply their knowledge of airfoils and wind resistance to the design of blades that will be affixed to the windmill.


Grade 7 – Aerospace Engineering – Out of this World!

  • Flying Saucers- Students will build flying saucers out of manila folders and tag board to learn about the properties of flight and the influence of wind. Students will experiment with a variety of engineering designs to create the greatest distance in various wind conditions. They will use their understanding of geometry; the area of a circle and triangle to compute the area of their own flying creations and measure distances accurately.
  • Straw Rockets - Students will design their own pneumatically driven rocket and the fins that stabilize the flight of the rocket. They will understand the properties of flight and how they can be modified to propel a rocket, investigate the overall design components of a rocket, including the nose cone and fin, play a role in the rocket’s trajectory and distance traveled, and analyze test results, to combine solutions to solve challenging engineering problems.
  • Lunar Lander - Students will learn about the importance of weight distribution in aircraft design, and understand how potential and kinetic energy relates to the motion of objects. Students will build their own custom “Lunar Lander” to protect their space cadet marshmallows from being ejected from their space craft.


Grade 8 – Electrical Engineering – Power Up!


  • Flashlight Builder - During this lesson, students will get to test their knowledge on circuit building. The students will be building flashlights out of a disposable water bottle. By the end of this lesson, students will have a very firm understanding of how an electrical circuit works.
  • Balloon Pop - Students work together to design and program their own video game using video sensing and seven other types of programming blocks. Students build their game in stages adding variables, operators, and clones to increase difficulty and frequently test their games to improve scripting. They will understand how to incorporate motion detection into the programming of a video game, program a video game using if: then statements, and create variables to measure time and keep score. 
Electronic Keyboard - Students will use the Makey-Makey electronic kits and Scratch programing to make an octave keyboard that they can play out of paper. This project will combine their understanding of electrical circuits and programing to create a working prototype.