Unit Overview

Students use their understanding of earth materials such as clay, soil, and sand to engineer sturdy protective walls.

  • Grades 1–5 (Designed for grades 1–2; includes modifications for grades 3–5.)
  • Setting: In school
  • Science connection: Earth materials
  • 5 lessons (11–12 class sessions)

Standards alignment

We’ve developed each EiE unit with careful attention to educational standards in both science and technology/engineering. View Standards Alignments.

Unit Map

Students are introduced to the concepts of engineering and technology. (30–40 min.)
The class reads a storybook in which a girl named Yi Min living in China explores the field of Materials Engineering in order to build a wall to protect her garden from a hungry rabbit. (90–120 min., 2–3 sessions)
Students practice describing the properties of different materials. (50–60 min.)
Students test and observe the properties of pure earth materials in search of an ideal mortar to use when designing a wall. (110–140 min., 3 sessions)
Students follow the steps of the Engineering Design Process to imagine, plan, create, test, and then improve their own mortar mixtures and walls. (180–220 min., 4 sessions)

Sample How-to Video

Sample Classroom Video

What's Included?

  • Teacher Guide (PDF)
  • Illustrated Story (PDF)
  • Print Materials (PDF)
  • Additional Resources