Optional Teaching Supplies

Materials for this Unit

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Each unit includes a letter to send home with student for materials donation for the unit.  Click here to download a copy of this letter in Spanish.

Additional Storybooks for Classroom Use

Storybooks introduce each unit with the tale of a child somewhere around the world who solves a problem through engineering. The books integrate literacy and social studies into the unit and illustrate for students the relevance of STEM subjects. 

Explore the Lessons

Students think about what technology is and are introduced to the idea that engineers design technologies.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

What is Technology? / Grade 4 / Worcester, MA

Students think about what technology is and are introduced to the idea that engineers design technologies.

Extension Lessons

What are Extension Lessons?

Extension Lessons use EiE activities as a springboard to more directly reinforce other curricular concepts.

View all Extension Lessons »

Mariana lives in sunny Dominican Republic, and she’s an avid gardener. Her favorite plant is a berry bush that a friend sent her from Hawaii. But there’s a problem. The bush gave her one crop of delicious berries--and now she can’t get any more berries to grow. With the help of her Auntie Leti, an agricultural engineer, Mariana discovers the reason: none of the insects that live in her garden can pollinate the plant. Mariana designs a hand pollinator and discovers the sweet rewards of agricultural engineering.

Download a PDF of our storybook illustrations.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Hand Pollinator Storybook / Grade 2 / Framingham, MA
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EiE - The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators, L1

Reflection Questions

What prompts do you see Pat using to activate students' prior knowledge about things in the storybook?

Pat elicits her students' prior ideas about butterflies, problem solving, and insects.

  • Pat gets her students to share what they know about butterflies by asking, “What do you think this story might be about?” (0:34)
  • Prompting students to think of ways they might solve the problem, Pat asks, “How could Mariana test to see if insects are coming to her flowers?” (4:04)
  • Based on the insect unit they just completed, Pat asks, “Do insects have different types of mouth parts?” (5:00)

How does Pat adapt the lesson activities?

Pat makes modifications that help reduce the amount of writing required of her second graders.  She also makes the activities more appropriate for group work. 

  • Instead of having students work on their own to match jobs on Pollination System (1-3), Pat and her students fill in a large Pollination System chart on the board as a group, enlarging the pictures and posting the matches. (7:05)
  • Instead of writing on Engineering Design Process (1-6), Pat has kids work in groups to match cards of the Engineering Design Process steps with Mariana’s actions in the book. (9:26)
  • The guide recommends doing the activity Pollination System (1-3) after reading Chapter 6, but Pat reads the entire book before conducting this activity. (7:05)
Hand Pollinator Storybook / Grade 1 / Stillwater, MN
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EiE - The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators, L1

Reflection Questions

What evidence do you see that Julie’s students have been taught the norms and expectations for group work?

Julie’s students understand the value of teamwork and readily share their thinking. They justify their ideas and come to consensus before writing. 

  • Students take turns reading aloud, and without being prompted, one girl helps her teammate read the word “new.” (3:23)
  • After two students have declared that they think the answer to the question is pollen, one girl asks the other group members, “Do you guys think that’s pollen?” (3:34)
  • When Julie asks one team how they know all the answers, one child happily declares, “We worked together as a team.” (3:44)
  • Students listen to each other and come to consensus before deciding which Engineering Design Process step to write on the worksheet. (6:29 and 6:40)

What strategies do you see Julie using to keep her young students engaged and curious about the lesson?

Julie has a very animated style of reading that makes listening fun. She asks challenging questions and connects the story to students' lives.

  • Julie uses lots of different voices as she reads. She whispers the word “pollination” (3:54) and demonstrates Mariana’s excitement when she exclaims, “My pollinator worked!” (5:10)
  • Julie plays the role of skeptic to get her kids to convince her that insects help pollinate plants (0:41), and she challenges her students to do detective work to figure out the jobs of the items on the worksheet. (3:00)
  • Julie connects the problem in the book to her students when she asks, “Could you design your own pollinator? Raise your hand if you are thinking of a way.” (4:40) 


Students think like agricultural engineers as they perform a play about Integrated Pest Management at an apple orchard.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Who Are Agricultural Engineers? / Grade 1 / Stillwater, MN
Click here for a more in-depth look

EiE - The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators, L2

Reflection Questions

What evidence do you see that Julie spent time before class preparing materials and props for the play?

Before class, Julie created an apple tree from a bulletin board, made name tag lanyards for play characters, and enlarged and highlighted copies of the script for each child.

  • At the beginning of class, you can see the “Welcome to Honeybrook Farm” apple tree that provides an appropriate background for the play. (0:54)
  • Julie printed out the name of each character, laminated sheets of paper, and attached yarn to name cards so that they could be worn around the neck. (1:27)
  • Julie enlarged the text size on the scripts for her students and highlighted the lines that each child was responsible for. (1:53)

What does Julie do during this lesson to reinforce her students’ literacy skills?

Julie has her students practice vocabulary, take turns reading, and order the events in the story. 

  • Julie helps her students practice vocabulary by having them all say the term “integrated pest management” every time it comes up during the play.  (0:32, 2:19, 2:27)
  • Each student gains experience reading their lines aloud in front of the class. (2:05)
  • When creating the chart of problems and solutions, Julie focuses on the order of events in the story. (6:11)
Who Are Agricultural Engineers? / Grade 2 / Framingham, MA
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EiE - The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators, L2

Reflection Questions

What strategies does Pat use to refresh and/or activate students' prior knowledge of agriculture before they start the play?

Pat reviews what her students have learned in school about agricultural engineers and integrated pest management and also asks them about any out-of-school visits they may have taken to an orchard. 

  • Because agricultural engineers have roles in the play, Pat re-reads sections of the storybook that reminds students what they do. (1:14)
  • Pat reviews the definition and importance of Integrated Pest Management before her students encounter that term again in the play. (2:20)
  • Pat makes connections to the students' own lives by asking them about visits they have made to apple orchards and what they think healthy apples look like. (3:05)

How does Pat modify the lesson to make it more appropriate for her second-grade students?

Pat provides props and re-types the script in large print. 

  • Pat creates character headbands for each of her students to wear during the play. (3:50)
  • Pat printed out the script of the play in large print for beginning readers. (5:06)
  • Because the names of the pests in the play are uncommon and hard to remember, Pat has students refer back to their scripts when filling out the Problems and Solutions board. (6:11)

Students perform controlled experiments to identify effective materials and methods for picking up and dropping off pollen.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Exploring Pollination Materials (1) / Grade 2 / Framingham, MA
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EiE - The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators, L3P1

Reflection Questions

How does Pat provide supports to make it easier for her second graders to evaluate the properties of materials?

Pat scaffolds the lesson by providing written reference questions, rotating among groups to help them evaluate materials, and displaying examples of items during discussion. 

  • Pat provides a printed list of questions for students to refer to that focus on the properties of materials (Is it heavy or light? What color is it?). (3:11)
  • Pat rotates among the groups, asking questions that help them describe the properties of the materials they have. (4:42)
  • Pat has created a chart with pollinator materials pasted to it so that students can see an item when they are listing its properties. (5:54)

Where do you see Pat using the content of the story to motivate and engage her students in the design challenge?

Pat opens and closes her lesson with references to Mariana and the issues she faced in the storybook. 

  • To introduce the lesson, Pat says, “Today you’re going to be careful observers, just like Mariana. You are going to be just like an agricultural engineer, studying some plants and thinking about a hand pollinator just like she did.” (1:22)
  • Pat wraps up the lesson by saying, “You did some really good thinking about what would be good choices, just like Mariana did in her story.” (10:45)
Exploring Pollination Materials (2) / Grade 2 / Framingham, MA
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EiE - The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators , L3P2

Reflection Questions

What strategies do you see Pat using to make the main points of this lesson clear for her young students?

Pat uses modeling and props to help make the content clear and the testing process understandable. 

  • Pat brings in a live day lily blossom to point out the parts of a flower instead of relying on the diagram on handout 3-7. (1:03)
  • Pat demonstrates the entire testing process before students receive any materials. (2:57)
  • After testing the marble, Pat models exactly how she would fill in the recording sheet that students are expected to use in their investigation. (3:29)

Where do you see Pat’s students being reminded about the features of controlled or fair testing?

Without ever mentioning the process of “controlling variables,” both Pat and her teaching aide take any opportunity they can to reinforce the importance of keeping everyone’s testing procedures the same.

  • Before beginning, Pat reminds students that “Everyone has to test the materials just the same way.” (1:53)
  • Pat’s teaching aide reminds her student to wrap the tape around her finger to test it, “just like Mrs. Slater did.” (5:24)
  • Pat explicitly talks about differences in procedure when discussing results of the aluminum foil tests, calling it “a different kind of experiment.” (7:40) 


Exploring Pollination Materials / Grade 1 / Stillwater, MN
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EiE - Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators, L3

Reflection Questions

Julie creates a different bulletin board for every EiE lesson. How does today’s display help students with the Lesson 3 Guiding Question?

Before class, Julie created a bulletin board that displays the guiding questions and important descriptive vocabulary words.

  • In the center of the board is the Guiding Question, “What materials and properties of materials work best for picking up and dropping off pollen?” (1:11)
  • Around the guiding questions are contrasting pairs of vocabulary words that can be used to describe properties, such as “smooth or rough” and “rigid or flexible.” (1:21)
  • This anchor chart reflects what is going on in the room and provides students with ideas for words to describe the properties of the items in their sample bags. (1:58)

Julie offers her students three additional “bonus materials” to use in their hand pollinator designs. What are some of the benefits of this modification?

Julies’ students are excited about the new materials and immediately start thinking of them in terms of their ability to pick up and drop off pollen.

  • With the bonus materials, Julie’s students get a chance to test their new knowledge by predicting how each will perform. (7:29)
  • By allowing students to conduct one more material test (after discussing the results of other materials), Julie provides an opportunity for her students to deepen their understanding of material properties and the testing procedure. (7:38)
  • Because each group can only test one bonus material, they must collaborate and agree as a team before moving into the testing phase. (7:30)

Students apply their knowledge of materials, the pollination system, and agricultural engineering as they imagine, plan, create, test, and improve their own hand pollinators.

Supporting Materials for this Lesson

Sample Classroom Video
Designing a Hand Pollinator / Grade 1 / Stillwater, MN
Click here for a more in-depth look

EiE - Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators, L4

Reflection Questions

Julie uses different colored paper to photocopy student pages from the EiE guide. How does this strategy help Julie and her students keep track of what’s going on in her busy classroom?

By scanning the room for different shades of photocopy paper, Julie can quickly assess which groups are working on which page and be able to jump in and assist them if necessary.

  • When introducing the different flower models, Julie shows students the Dutchman’s pipe on green paper and the bucket orchid on yellow. This helps the students understand that different groups will be testing different models. (0:50 and 1:09)
  • To distinguish the Ask, Imagine, and Plan pages, Julie prints them on pink, yellow, and blue paper. With so many sheets of paper on each table, this trick helps her and her students keep track of where they are. (2:32)

In what ways, and in what parts of the lesson, does Julie reinforce the idea that engineering involves a process of unique steps?

Julie names each step in the process as students work. She also reflects on the Engineering Design Process (EDP) and asks her students what their favorite parts of the process are. 

  • Julie identifies the Imagine, Plan and Create steps of the EDP by name and tells students what is expected of them in each step. (1:33, 2:39, and 3:37)
  • When reflecting on the unit, one student shares that his favorite part was trying out the pollinators. When Julie asks which stage of the EDP that is, the student correctly identifies it as the Create step. (8:02)
  • One student responds that she likes the Plan step because she likes to write. (8:22)
Designing a Hand Pollinator (1) / Grade 2 / Framingham, MA
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EiE - The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators, L4P1

Reflection Questions

What do you see Pat doing to help her students understand the flower models, what they represent, and why we use them?

Pat introduces the model flowers and their parts in a step-by-step fashion so that children will understand what each one represents. 

  • Pat adds colors to the diagrams, using yellow to mark where the insect crawls in and red to designate where the nectar is located. (3:00)
  • Pat holds up each plastic flower model right next to the colored diagram so that students can see how closely it matches the flowers size and shape. (4:02)
  • Pat explains that agricultural engineers might use models at first to avoid hurting or breaking real flowers. (4:48)

How do you see students benefiting from using the handouts as they imagine and share ideas?

Pat’s students use the handouts to structure their movement through the EDP and make sure that they address all the important parts of each step.

  • Students use Imagine [4-5] to generate and keep track of the four design ideas they will discuss with their partners. (7:05)
  • One student uses the bottom section of Plan [4-6] to list all the materials she will use in her design. (9:01)
  • Another student uses Imagine [4-6] to record a labeled diagram of his plan that helps him prepare for building. (9:07)
Designing a Hand Pollinator (2) / Grade 2 / Framingham, MA
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EiE - The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators , L4P2

Reflection Questions

What do you notice about how pairs of students help each other during the design challenge?

Pat’s students clearly benefit from working in pairs as they construct pollinators together, remind each other of what is expected, and help each other with vocabulary words.

  • Both students help hold pieces in place, dispense tape, and assemble hand pollinators. (2:23 and 4:15)
  • One student reminds his partner to “follow from the picture” on Handout 4-5 when thinking about a second design. (3:34)
  • When presenting, one student helps her partner remember the word “pipe cleaner.” (6:42)


What strategies does Pat use support and encourage teamwork?

The ways that Pat interacts with groups and gives directions foster and encourage teamwork.

  • Pat models cooperation by having both boys in the group touch the pom-pom. She then directs one boy to hold the model flower while the other inserts the pollinator. (3:56)
  • Pat has the students “talk with their teammates” and choose one person to tell about the model flower they used and one person to tell how they made the pollinator. (4:54)