Palos East Elementary SChool

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4th Grade

 Inventions & The Young Inventor Challenge



This science unit will turn the 4th grade students into a classroom of inventors.  They will gain insight into the creative process of inventing as they research inventors and see how their inventions have changed our lives.  Students will practice the creative thinking process by brainstorming, tinkering, and actually creating their own inventions. Students will gain an understanding of the need for inventions and the importance of original thinking.  They will learn about how inventors have contributed to society and how to patent, advertise and market an invention of their own.


In addition, students will have the unique opportunity to participate in a local Young Inventor’s Challenge. The Chicago Toy & Game Fair (ChiTAG) brings together imagination, play and inventive thinking with their seventh annual Young Inventor Challenge (YIC), to be held at the Fair on Saturday, November 19, 2016 at Chicago's Navy Pier. The contest is open to boys and girls ages 6 to 18, and participants must create their own original toy or game inventions to be judged by popular vote by the Fair's 20,000+ attendees and top game industry representatives. Besides great prizes to be won, game executives will be on hand to provide advice, recognition and encouragement to all young inventors to dream big and discover the possibilities of play! You can find more information at .

Ocean Engineering



 This unit introduces students to oceans and ocean engineering. Life Science topics introduced include descriptions of sea life, simple food chains, and echolocation.  Physical and Earth Science topics such as layers of the ocean, features of the ocean floor, currents, waves, and tides will also be studied. In addition, science concepts related to floating and sinking are reinforced as students learn about the ocean and engage in an engineering design challenge focused on designing a submersible.  Unit lessons include:

Preparatory Lesson: Technology in a Bag

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

Lesson 1: Despina Makes a Splash Storybook

A storybook introduces the engineering challenge and context.  In this story, Despina, a girl from Greece, learns about ocean engineering as she designs her own submersible.

Lesson 2: Into the Deep

Students think like ocean engineers as they use sounding technologies to generate data about a model of the ocean floor.

Lesson 3: A Sinking Feeling

Students explore how the mass and volume of an object affects whether it sinks or floats in water.

Lesson 4: Designing a Submersible

Students apply their knowledge of floating and sinking and ocean engineering as they imagine, plan, create, test, and improve their own submersible.

Description taken from Engineering is Elementary, National Center for Technological Literacy from the Museum of Science, Boston.

Crime Scene Detective

A variety of crimes, including robberies, arson, counterfeiting, computer fraud, and murder, are committed each day.  Advances in science have allowed scientists to gather and analyze even the minutest traces of evidence.  This is called forensic science and will be the subject of our next ALPS unit.

This unit is divided into three main parts:

  • In Part 1, students learn general information about criminal investigations.  Topics include police procedures at a crime scene, evidence collection, the Locard Principle, the scientific method, and forensic science careers.
  • In Part 2, students participate in lab experiments and research activities to learn about various types of evidence typically found at crime scenes.
  • In Part 3, students apply the information they have learned by participating in a schoolwide crime scene investigation.  The simulation involves a theft in the school library media center.

In the end, students will write a final report describing who is being charged with the crime and justifying the decision with specific facts from the investigation.

Description from Karen K. Schulz, Crime Scene Detective: Theft