Unit Overview

Students become mechanical engineers as they work to protect Penny the dog from getting too warm in the sunlight. They explore the warming effects of the Sun, light and shadow, and animal needs as they engineer a shady shelter roof.

  • Kindergarten
  • Setting: In school
  • Science connection: Energy, sunlight
  • 9 lessons
  • 20–70 minutes per lesson

Standards alignment

We’ve developed the EiE for Kindergarten units with careful attention to educational standards in science, computer science, and technology/engineering. View Standards Alignment for state and national standards, including CCSS ELA and Math.

Unit Map

Students learn that many of the items they use every day— like pencils, shoes, and tables—are technologies designed to solve problems. (25 min.)
Students learn that engineers are people who figure out how to make technologies, and that to do so, engineers use an engineering design process. (20 min.)
Students read the first chapter of Protecting Penny. They meet Penny the dog and notice the problem that she is too warm to play. Students brainstorm ways to keep Penny cool. (45 min.)
Students explore various materials and brainstorm how they can be used to build a shelter that protects from sunlight. (40 min.)
Students practice their craftsmanship skills as they explore how changing the size and shape of a roof impacts its ability to make shade. (40 min.)
Students test and evaluate various materials to determine which ones work well to make shade. (45 min.)
Students use what they’ve found out about ways to change the size and shape of a shelter roof and about which materials work well to make shade to imagine some ideas and record a plan. (40 min.)
Students use their plans to create, test, and improve their own shelter for Penny the dog. (55–70 min.)
Students gain inspiration by participating in a gallery walk of their peers’ designs. They then apply their engineering knowledge to a new context to consider ways they could protect something different from getting too warm. (35 min.)


Sample How-to Video

Sample Classroom Video

What's Included?

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