Internal and External Forces and The Three Little Pigs


archBy Susan Ibdah

This paper outlines a cross-curricular lesson between Science and Language Arts. The focus is internal forces and external forces acting on structures. Students will apply their knowledge of forces and stabilization to build houses in the context of the True Story of the Three Little Pigs.

Lesson Objectives
Each student will be assessed on how well he/she applies all skills, knowledge, and understanding of the unit into building a stable model house that can withstand simulated natural elements such as high winds, heavy rain, and earthquakes

Materials

  • tin tray
  • gold tissue paper (to represent straw),
  • Popsicle sticks, toothpicks (to represent sticks),
  • flat-based marbles (to represent stone/brick)
  • clay, glue
  • scissors,
  • blow dryer
  • 4 water spray bottles

Safety
Teacher will be responsible for handling the blow dryer. Students must stand one meter away from blow dryer, with the cord tucked away to prevent tripping. Blow dryer must be far from any water source including the spray bottle.

Engage

  1. Teacher reads to the students The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and makes a correlation between the “wolf” and natural disasters.
  2. When the wolf blows on the house, what natural disaster is that similar to? (wind/tornado)
  3. When the wolf sneezes all over the door, what natural disaster is that similar to? (hurricane)
  4. When the wolf bangs at the door and shakes it, what natural disaster is that similar to? (earthquake)

Explore
Individually, students will be assigned straw, toothpicks, and stones with which to build a house. Each house will be exposed to simulated wind, water, and an earthquake.
Learning Goal: Can you make a stable house that will withstand wind, water, and an earthquake using all three materials in limited amounts? (see Criteria below) Project criteria on the board and read with students to check for understanding.

Criteria

  • House must be at least the size of the hair dye box (base and height)
  • House must have a roof (triangular or otherwise)
  • House must have at least one arch
  • Door must be functional
  • You may not use additional materials
  • tin tray
  • gold tissue paper (to represent straw),
  • popsicle sticks, toothpicks (to represent sticks),
  • flat-based marbles (to represent stone/brick)
  • clay, glue
  • scissors,
  • blow dryer
  • 4 water spray bottles

Safety
Teacher will be responsible for handling the blow dryer. Students must stand one meter away from blow dryer, with the cord tucked away to prevent tripping. Blow dryer must be far from any water source including the spray bottle.

Engage

  1. Teacher reads to the students The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and makes a correlation between the “wolf” and natural disasters.
  2. When the wolf blows on the house, what natural disaster is that similar to? (wind/tornado)
  3. When the wolf sneezes all over the door, what natural disaster is that similar to? (hurricane)
  4. When the wolf bangs at the door and shakes it, what natural disaster is that similar to? (earthquake)

Explore
Individually, students will be assigned straw, toothpicks, and stones with which to build a house. Each house will be exposed to simulated wind, water, and an earthquake.
Learning Goal: Can you make a stable house that will withstand wind, water, and an earthquake using all three materials in limited amounts? (see Criteria below)
Project criteria on the board and read with students to check for understanding.

Criteria
• House must be at least the size of the hair dye box (base and height)
• House must have a roof (triangular or otherwise)
• House must have at least one arch
• Door must be functional
• You may not use additional material

Reflect

  1. What features or elements of design contributed to the success or failure of the structure? Explain.
  2. Which forces were the most detrimental? Why?
  3. Name two improvements you could make to your house that would make it more stable, and functional. Explain why these modifications would be beneficial.

Extension
Re-write The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Incorporate your model as the fourth Little Pig’s house and natural forces such as earthquakes, tornadoes, or hurricanes. How do the wolf and fourth little pig fit in? Be creative!

Conclusion
Students have the chance to explore the effects of forces on structures in a hands-on, interactive lesson that draws on the classic story of The Three Little Pigs. Students will be able to test their houses for stability and gain an understanding of structural design through action-based learning. Moreover, they apply their discoveries in a reflection paper and/or through the re-write of classic tale. This lesson provides an engaging, memorable, and effective example of creating cross-curricular lessons in Science & Technology and Language Arts.

Resources
Scieszka, Jon; Smith, Lane (illus.) The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Puffin, March 1996. ISBN# 9780140544510.

One thought on “Internal and External Forces and The Three Little Pigs

  1. Pingback: STEAM Reading Buddies 3 and 4 –

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