ALEX Lesson Plan


The 4th Little Pig - Designing a Hurricane-Proof Roof

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Jennifer Priest
System: Blount County
School: Susan Moore Elementary School
The event this resource created for:NASA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34276


The 4th Little Pig - Designing a Hurricane-Proof Roof


The goal of this lesson is for students to use their knowledge of hurricanes to design and build a hurricane-proof roof for Piggy Sue, The Three Little Pig's cousin.  She has just moved to town and she needs a house that will withstand a hurricane.

Students will test various materials and designs to determine the best design for her roof.  Students will work in groups and use the engineering design method to design and build their roofs.  Each group will have a budget to purchase materials for their roofs.

This lesson was created as part of the 2016 NASA STEM Standards of Practice Project, a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
MA2015 (2016)
Grade: 3
11 ) Fluently add and subtract within 1000 using strategies and algorithms based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction. [3-NBT2]

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
4NPO3a: Add and subtract:
  • Whole numbers, or
  • Fractions with like denominators, or
  • Decimals through hundredths.

NAEP Statement::
8NPO3a: Perform computations with rational numbers.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
M.AAS.3.11- Add and subtract one- and two-digit numbers up to 30 (no regrouping).

SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 3
15 ) Evaluate a design solution (e.g., flood barriers, wind resistant roofs, lightning rods) that reduces the impact of a weather-related hazard.*

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Engaging in Argument from Evidence
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth and Human Activity
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Make a claim about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impacts of a weather-related hazard.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Merit
  • Claim
  • Problem/solution
  • Design solution
  • Impact
  • Reduce
  • Weather-related hazard
Students know:
  • Engineers design solutions to reduce the impact of weather related hazards.
  • Problems caused by weather related problems.
  • Humans can not eliminate natural hazards but can take steps to reduce their impacts.
  • Some design solutions are more effective than others.
Students are able to:
  • Identify impacts of a weather related hazard.
  • Identify the effects of solutions to a problem that reduces the impact of a weather related hazard.
  • Make a claim about a designed solution that reduces the impact of a weather related hazard.
  • Communicate evidence to support the claim about a designed solution that reduces the impact of a weather related hazard.
Students understand that:
  • There are cause and effect relationships between weather-related hazards and design solutions created to reduce their impact.
  • There are benefits and risks to given solutions created when responding to the societal demand to reduce the impact of a hazard.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Weather and Climate

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
E4.11: Humans depend on their natural and constructed environment. Humans change environments in ways that can either be beneficial or detrimental for themselves and other organisms.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.3.15- Identify practices that keep people safe during severe weather.

Local/National Standards:

3-5-ETS1-1.Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

Primary Learning Objective(s):

  • Students will gather information concerning hurricanes and the effect they have on building structures.
  • Students will test various material to see if which ones are water-resistant.
  • Students will test roof designs to see which ones are more wind-resistant.
  • Students will compare designs from other groups to determine the best designs.
  • Students will be able to explain why they chose materials and designs for their roofs.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

  • Students will purchase materials to build a roof using a budget.
  • Students will purchase and return materials as needed, while adjusting their budget as needed.
 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Materials to test for roof structure:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Note cards
  • Plastic baggies
  • Wax paper
  • Felt
  • Foam sheets
  • Toothpicks
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Straws
  • Chenille sticks

Additional materials:

  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • LEGO blocks to build a foundation for the house
  • Hairdryer (wind source)
  • Spray bottle with water (water source)
  • Response sheet
  • Pencil


Technology Resources Needed:

Projector/White board


      NASA Videos:

      NASA Online Articles:


The teacher will need to have plenty of each material for the students to purchase.  Prices should be included on the materials.  

The teacher needs to be able to retell the story of "The Three Little Pigs" or read the story aloud.  

Students need to be able to build a basic, square base of a house using LEGO blocks.  


The teacher will begin the lesson by giving brief information about hurricanes.  Students need to have an understanding of the damage that hurricanes can do to building structures.  Students will watch the following video:

The teacher can use some of the information in the following articles as added information:

The teacher will introduce the design challenge by showing the PowerPoint "The 4th Little Pig".

Students will quickly build a 4 by 4 inch base of a house using LEGO blocks.

Each group should be given one of each of the testing materials.  Students will test the strength and durability of each material.  They will also use a spray water bottle to test water-resistance.  Students will make notes of each material tested.  

Students should be given a response sheet to begin the engineering process.  Each group will be given a budget to purchase materials for their roofs.  Students must decide which materials to purchase and complete their budget with a total amount spent.  

During the build, students may purchase or exchange materials as long as they stay within their budget. The budget may not be exceeded at any time during the build. Students will be given about 20-30 minutes to build the base and roof.

Students will sketch their final designs on the response sheet.  


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Assessment Strategies

The teacher will spray water on each group's roof to see if the roof is water-resistant.  Then, the teacher will blow a hair dryer (strong wind source) to see if the roof will withstand a strong wind. Students should be given about 10-15 minutes to redesign their roofs. You can either give them additional money to spend, allow them to get only 3 additional materials, or just let them get what they need to improve their design.  Allow the groups to retest the new design.

Students will complete the "Evaluation/Improve" section of their response sheet.

Each group will share their findings with the class.  Group members should be able to :

  • Defend their designs and purchased materials
  • Tell the strengths of their design
  • Acknowledge the weaknesses of their designs


If time allows. students could bring in their own materials to create a new roof.  Students should follow the same assessment plan.


Since students are working in groups, little remediation should be needed.  However, the teacher will intervene where needed.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.