Introduction: Forces and Technology Design Challenge: Building the Foundation of STEM Literacy


During this Early Childhood STEM unit, students apply their understanding of forces to solve a real-world engineering challenge using. The children will use a coding robot at the center of their design as they use the engineering design process to create a device that will go on the coding robot. The children will carry out simple investigations to see the effectiveness of their design. Data from the investigations will be gathered (charting of paper) and interpreted to change designs.

Real World Design Challenge

This multi-week unit will be implemented during the winter month. The children will be posed with a real world problem in collaboration with the coding robot technology.

The city of Worcester needs your help to move snow to make walking paths. What is the most effective device you can design you can attach to move the snow?

Prior knowledge/prior experience

The background knowledge and experience in early childhood students range greatly. Therefore, it would benefit from the students to have had experience using the coding robot prior to the activity.

Learning Targets
The child will participate in several steps of the engineering process Creates a plan ( either verbal or written) Builds and test out Redesigns and improve

The child will increase their understanding movement of objects and how it can be controlled by building a structure to attach to the robot mouse that will move pom-poms.

The child will verbally demonstrate some understanding of forces by using the vocabulary words push or pull.

The child will analyze the data from the testing phase by counting the pom-poms and comparing quantities.

The child will build awareness of patterns by inputting the correct sequence on the control of the robot.

The child will be able to code the desired movement of the robot.

The child will purposefully use simple building tools such as scissors, tape and dispenser, Velcro and hole punch.

The child will participate in discussion with peers and stay on topic about the design.

The child will share some ideas about their design to their peers. The children will develop skills to create a drawn mode

Massachusetts Standards Connections

Math PK.CC.C4 Count many kinds of concrete objects and actions up to ten, using one-to-one correspondence, and accurately count as many as seven things in a scattered configuration. Recognize the “one more,” “one less” patterns. PK.CC.C5 Use comparative language, such as more/less than, equal to, to compare and describe collections of objects.

Science PreK-PS2-1(MA). Using evidence, discuss ideas about what is making something move the way it does and how some movements can be controlled.

English S.L.PK.5 Create representations of experiences or stories (e.g., drawings, constructions with blocks or other materials, clay models) and explain them to others.

SL.PK.1.a Observe and use appropriate ways of interacting in a group (e.g., taking turns in talking, listening to peers, waiting to speak until another person is finished talking, asking questions and waiting for an answer, gaining the floor in appropriate ways).

SL.PK.5 Create representations of experiences or stories (e.g., drawings, constructions with blocks or other materials, clay models) and explain them to others.

SL.PK.6 Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

Scientific and Engineering Practices

Developing and using models – The children will be encouraged to create a model of their idea onto paper. The children will also get another chance to build an understanding of models by revisiting their final design and creating another model on paper

Constructing design solutions- the children will work through the engineering design process and create a solution for the challenge presented to them. They will participate in several building, testing and revising sessions during the unit.

Planning and carrying out investigation- The children will test out their solutions and gather data about the effectiveness of their design.

Using mathematics and computational thinking-The children keep qualitative data on the effectiveness of their design. They will count and compare different quantities to identify the most effective design.


Coding Toy like the BeeBot or Code and Go Mouse.

Recycle materials

Simple technology like scissors, tape, velcro

Engineering Design Process visual


Paper for planning. For this project a clip art image of the coding device was placed in the middle of the paper to help the young children create their plan.

Step 1: Timeline of Instruction


Week 1-2 : Build background knowledge with the Code and Go mouse. Encourage children to use independently for open-ended exploration. Also, conduct small groups with specific goals for coding. During these weeks read the various books listed to help build understanding of the problem that will be presented for them. Use the vocabulary cards during reading build knowledge.

Week 3-4 Engineer Challenge: Pose the design challenge to the children. Continue to read the books with the vocabulary cards and sing the different songs to help reinforce science concepts. The children will work though the engineer design process as they create their design. Each step of the design process should take about a day.

  • Present challenge and brainstorm solutions and create plans.

Pose the design challenge to the children and research the problem. Look at pictures of Present the children with some of the materials that they will use to build to reference when creating plan. The teacher will record any dictations on the paper.

  • Build and Test and improve *This step may be repeated several days depending on children interest. Use the child made plans as a guide and tinker up an idea. Test out the idea. Count how many balls went into the goal. Record the amounts of balls each child was able to collect on chart paper. Encourage the children to make improvements. “How can you change your design to capture more snow balls?” “ Should you change the width or the height?”

  • Record ideas on paper of final design.Use writing materials to create a diagram of their idea for the robot using the idea the child designed and built.

Step 2: Resources


Song about forces

Forces Can Push or Pull Jack Hartmann Row, Row Your Boat - children will work in pairs and create a push and pull movement during the song.

Robotic Engineers- PBS Video about coding robots. NASA Robotic Engineer a Robotic Astronaut.

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