Unit Overview

Students engineer vests that incorporate an electric communication system to increase pedestrian, cyclist, or skateboarder safety at a busy intersection.

  • Grade 4
  • Setting: In school
  • Science connection: Electrical circuits, energy, information transfer
  • 9 lessons
  • 45 minutes per lesson

Standards alignment

We’ve developed each YES unit with careful attention to NGSS standards. YES units are also designed to integrate with the most popular elementary and middle school curricula. View Standards Alignment

Unit Map

Students are introduced to engineering by designing a model bench for people waiting at a bus stop. They learn about the Engineering Design Process as they reflect on how they solved the problem.
Students begin reading a comic about a dangerous traffic intersection. They model travelers through an intersection to learn about the impact of communication on safety.
Students send and receive messages using shapes, colors, and symbols to establish the importance of a shared communication system.

Students build circuits and consider how the energy flows to power a light. They incorporate switches to turn the light on and off.

Students independently imagine ideas for their safety vests. They work with a partner to plan one safety vest design.

Students create their safety vests and troubleshoot the circuits to make sure they function reliably.

Students test their safety vests in front of the class. They collect and analyze data on how well their peers understood the signals in their designs.
Students identify aspects of their safety vests to improve. They make adjustments and test their improved designs.
Students write a report to a fictional electrical engineering company describing their final design recommendations.

Teacher Preparation Videos

Model Intersection

Example of Model Intersection, First Round

Test a Circuit

Vest Base

Create a Vest

Wearing a Safety Vest Demonstration

Safety vest icon

What’s Included?

  • Teacher Guide (PDF)
  • Teacher Slides (Google Slides)
  • Student Engineering Notebook (PDF)
  • Illustrated Story (Google Slides or PDF)
  • Print Materials (PDF)