Unit Overview

Students use their understanding of electricity and schematic diagrams to engineer and communicate about an alarm circuit.

  • Grades 1–5 (Designed for grades 3–5; includes modifications for grades 1–2.)
  • Setting: In school
  • Science connection: Electrical circuits, energy
  • 5 lessons (10–11 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 Emily, living on a ranch in Australia, explores the field of Electrical Engineering to build a system to alert her when she needs to fill the sheep’s water trough. (90–120 min., 2–3 sessions)
Students sort electrical technologies by their functions and make observations about the energy transformations involved. (50–60 min., 2 sessions)
Students learn about how electrical engineers use symbols to communicate about the parts of circuits and investigate how switches can be used to control circuits. (80–90 min., 2 sessions)
Students follow the steps of the Engineering Design Process to imagine, plan, create, test, and then improve their own alarm circuit designs. (175–195 min., 4 sessions)

Sample How-to Video

Sample Classroom Video

What's Included?

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