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Gateway to Elementary Engineering

CSTA October 22, 2016

Outline session
1. Family Engineering Stations
a. Graze, Play
b. Dig in, Debrief
2. Welcome, Introductions and Overview
3. Engineering Opener: The Pen Factory
a. Complete Challenge
b. Debrief and link to the Engineering
design process and Engineering Cycle
4. Engineering Challenges
a. Development of engineering process
with teachers
b. Creation of Engineering Challenges
5. Black Box Greeting Challenge!
a. Complete Challenge
b. Share and improve
6. Session Reflection and Debrief

Session Weebly Site

All Material used in this session, links to resources referenced, and future teacher reviewed and tested
Engineering Challenges will be posted at this website:


Contact Us
Anne Marie Bergen

Seth Bush

Central Coast Science Project Co-Director

Science Teaching Specialist
Liberal Studies
College of Science and Math
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
(805) 756-2759

Central Coast Science Project Co-Director

Single Subject Advisor for Chemistry
Chair Department of Chemistry and
College of Science and Math
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
(805) 756-2746

Black Box Greeting Card Challenge

Grade Level:
Time: 1 hour

Students will design their own interactive light-up, noise-making, and moving greeting
card! Student groups will receive an interactive greeting card to open and observe from
the outside, like a black box. After imagining what they think is happening inside the
card, the students work in teams to design, build and redesign their own greeting
interactive card using the materials provided.

Questions to Investigate
1. How do these interactive greeting cards work?
2. What do you think is happening inside the card?
3. How can you make a card light up, create sound, or vibrate with a given set of

Relevant NGSS Performance Expectations

3-5-ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes
specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
3-5-ETS1-3 Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure
points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be
4-PS3-2 Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from
place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
4-PS3-4 Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts
energy from one form to another.

Background for Teachers

This activity challenges students to create their own greeting cards with a limited supply
of materials. Students will need to know how to build an open and closed circuit in order
to make a motor, buzzer, and light work to be successful with this challenge. Prior
practice with building circuits is recommended. Besides highlighting the Engineering
Design Process, the Black Box Greeting Card Challenge is a great opportunity to
emphasize energy transfer from place to place though sound, light, heat, and electric
current. PS3.A

Greeting cards with sound and/or

1 per student team

1-2 for demonstration

Materials for the class in central


Wire strippers

Materials Envelope or Bag per


1 Motor
1 Buzzer
2 Cells (batteries)
2 Brads
1 Small and Large binder clip
1-12piece of string
1 Sheet of cardstock
2 Wires
1 Christmas light with leads
Foil, 2 8-10 strips
1 Rubber band