ALEX Lesson Plan


Made In The Shade

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Brooke Love
System: Chickasaw City
School: Chickasaw City Elementary School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35606


Made In The Shade


Students will discuss the effects of sunlight. Next, they will be introduced to the task of designing and constructing a device to reduce the effect of sunlight. In groups, students will design and then construct a tent that will keep an ice cube from completely melting before the uncovered control ice cube melts. Students will test the effectiveness of their tents.

This lesson results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: K
8 ) Design and construct a device (e.g., hat, canopy, umbrella, tent) to reduce the effects of sunlight.*

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific and Engineering Practices:
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth's Systems
Evidence of Student Attainment:
  • Design a device to reduce the effects of sunlight.
  • Construct a device to reduce the effects of sunlight.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Design
  • Construct
  • Device
  • Sunlight
  • Reduce
  • Effects
  • Create
  • Ask
  • Imagine
  • Improve
  • Plan
Students know:
  • The problem.
  • The design solution.
  • What way the design solution uses the given scientific information about the warming effect of the Sun on Earth's surface.
Students are able to:
  • Use tools and materials provided to design and build a device that reduces the effects of sunlight.
Students understand that:
  • Structures can reduce the effects of sunlight on Earth's surface.
  • Whether or not a device meets expectations in terms of cause (device reduces effects of sunlight) and effect (less warming).
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Weather Walk
*Weather, STC
*Sunny Sandbox, ETA/hand2mind
*Clouds, GLOBE

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will:

  • use appropriate materials for the construction of a tent.
  • explain why a device like a tent is important in reference to the effects of sunlight.
  • design and construct a tent to reduce the effects of sunlight.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

61 to 90 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

  • Ice cubes, plan for 1 ice cube per group as well as 1 control ice cube
  • Construction paper for drawing designs, one per group
  • Construction paper for construction of the project, 3 pieces per group, the teacher may choose to only use 3 black pieces of construction paper or may choose to provide one white, green, and black pieces of construction paper to each group
  • Masking tape, one roll of tape for each group
  • Popsicle sticks, 10 for each group
  • Pencils, 1 for each student
  • Ziplock bags, 2 for each group and the control ice
  • Chart paper for teacher and student groups, one for each group plus one for the teacher 
  • Timer, this could be the teacher's cell phone or a digital timer

Collaborative Group Roles:

Feedback and Critique Protocol:

Websites used during the lesson:



Technology Resources Needed:

  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Document camera (if available)
  • Tablet with a camera, one for each group if available, if not the teacher can use just one to photograph results for each group


Students should have an understanding of collaborative learning. Students need to be familiar with collaborative group roles as seen on the following chart:

Students should also be familiar with giving feedback and critique. The teacher should go over the following protocol and give examples of using these strategies.

The teacher should plan to complete this lesson on a sunny day. The teacher should also predetermine the location on school grounds where the designs will be tested, taking into account shaded areas. The tests should be completed in an area that is not shaded. 



The teacher will show the following image:

The teacher will ask why do we need shade from the sun?

  • Students will be given ten seconds to think about that question.
  • Next have students share their answer with a child next to them.
  • Finally, the teacher will write a few of the responses on chart paper.

Next, the teacher will ask, "What is a tent?"

The teacher will have students close their eyes and will then say the following: “Pretend you are on vacation. You are camping outdoors. The sun is very bright, and it is getting extremely hot outside. Why is a tent important to have while camping?”

  • The teacher will give students permission to open their eyes. The teacher will have students share responses with students nearby (elbow partners). The teacher will circulate and listen to a few responses. Finally, the teacher will share a few responses he or she heard.
  • The teacher will explain that a tent is a great tool to reduce the effects of sunlight. It can help keep people cooler than if they are directly under the sun. It might also help them to not get sunburned.

The teacher will explain that the students will be designing and constructing tents to help keep an ice cube from melting by making it a tent.


The teacher will let students know they will be divided into groups of 3-4 students.  The teacher will show the students the materials groups will be given to create a tent for their ice cube. The materials are construction paper, masking tape, and popsicle sticks.

  • The teacher will let the students know that each group will be given a sheet of construction paper to design their tent. Students should keep in mind the materials they will be given to construct their tent. Before the students begin collaborating on the design (drawing) of the tents the teacher should assign cooperative group roles (
  • The teacher may need to review each role. Some groups may need students to have two roles.

Students will now design (draw) the group tents they would like to later build.

Next, the teacher will have the presenter of each group explain their group’s sketch of the tent. If available, place this under the document camera so the class can better see details of the sketch.

The teacher will now hand out the materials and allow construction of the tents to begin. The teacher will circulate around to each group checking for understanding on how to construct students' designs.


The teacher will explain that the class will go outside to test the tents. The teacher will let the students know there will be a control ice cube. This ice cube will be placed in a ziplock bag and not put in the shade. Once this cube melts, the other cubes will be checked for melting.

  • Each cube will be placed inside the tents. All ice cubes will be in ziplock bags.
  • Once the control ice cube melts, students (or the teacher depending on the amount of camera/tablets available) will take a picture of their ice cube at this time, using their tablet. 

Finally, once inside, the students will be placed back in their groups with a piece of chart paper per table. Students will be given 15 minutes (set a timer) to illustrate the outcome of their tent and improvements, if necessary.

Students will improve and retest designs. Again, after the control ice cube melts students will take a picture of their ice cube. This will allow them to compare their ice cubes to their first designs. 


Assessment Strategies

During the lesson, check for understanding of why constructing a tent would help reduce the melting of an ice cube in the sunlight. The teacher will use questioning to determine if students can explain why a tent would help keep something cooler. Students should be able to discuss effects of an object in direct sunlight versus effects of an object in the shade.

At the end of the lesson, students should compare and contrast their first design and their redesign outcomes by drawing each design and the melting outcomes. Students should look to see if their second design caused less melting than their first design.  Students will answer these two questions, "Why did the ice cubes melt more slowly than the ice cube that was not under a tent?" "How was your second design different from your first design?" (Students should be able to describe both designs as well as describe the outcomes of both designs.) 


The teacher may choose to video the responses of the outdoor observations with the ice cubes on a smartphone device or tablet and teachers could use this video in the future for students to compare and contrast groups designs and outcomes. Also, the video could be used for considering the terms less and more. For example, group A’s ice cube melted less than group B’s.

Also, students could use the same lesson to melt chocolate and crayons. Perhaps even compare and contrast the ice findings with the findings of chocolate or crayon findings. 


If a student needs more background knowledge of the sun, the student may view

The teacher will circulate to see if students need assistance. Students must design on their own, but the teacher may need to intervene with critique and feedback as well as explaining and modeling collaboration.

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.