Grade 5 Structures and Mechanisms
Lesson Summary: Students will create an interactive story to showcase examples of and the similarities and differences
between internal and external forces on structures.
Curriculum Expectations: These expectations are intended to highlight the many ways in which this lesson could support
the curriculum. It is neither expected nor necessary for teachers to address all of these expectations at once. Teachers
are encouraged to select the most relevant expectations based on their unique context and intentions for the lesson.
Science & Technology
Language - Writing
Overall Expectations
A2. use coding in investigations and
to model concepts and assess the
impact of coding and of emerging
technologies on everyday life and in
STEM-related fields
A3. demonstrate an understanding of
the practical applications of science
and technology, and of contributions
to science and technology from
people with diverse lived experiences
D2. demonstrate an understanding of
forces that act on structures, and
how various structures withstand
Specific Expectations
A2.1 write and execute code in
investigations and when modelling
concepts, with a focus on using
different methods to store and
process data for a variety of
A2.2 identify and describe impacts of
coding and of emerging technologies
on everyday life, including skilled
A3.3 analyse contributions to science
and technology from various
D2.1 identify internal forces acting on
a structure, and describe their effects
on the structure
D2.2 identify external forces acting
on a structure, and describe their
effects on the structure
Overall Expectations
C3. solve problems and create
computational representations of
mathematical situations using coding
concepts and skills
Specific Expectations
C3.1 solve problems and
create computational
representations of mathematical
situations by writing and executing
code, including code that
involves conditional statements and
other control structures
C3.2 read and alter existing code,
including code that involves
conditional statements and other
control structures, and describe how
changes to the code affect the
Overall Expectations
1. Generate, gather, and organize
ideas and information to write for an
intended purpose and audience
2. draft and revise their writing, using
a variety of informational, literary,
and graphic forms and stylistic
elements appropriate for the purpose
and audience
Specific Expectations
1.1 identify the topic, purpose,
audience, and form for writing
1.2 generate ideas about a potential
topic, using a variety of strategies and
1.3 gather information to support
ideas for writing in a variety of ways
and/or from a variety of sources
1.4 sort ideas and information for
their writing in a variety of ways
1.5 identify and order main ideas and
sup- porting details into units that
could be used to develop a short,
simple para- graph, using graphic
1.6 determine whether the ideas and
information they have gathered are
relevant and adequate for the
purpose, and gather new material if
2.1 write short texts using a variety of
2.3 use words and phrases that will
help convey their meaning as
specifically as possible
2.4 vary sentence structures and
maintain continuity by using joining
words (e.g., and, or) to combine
simple sentences and using words
that indicate time and sequence to
link sentences
2.6 identify elements of their writing
that need improvement, using
feedback from the teacher and peers,
with a focus on specific features
2.7 make revisions to improve the
content, clarity, and interest of their
written work, using several types of
3.4 use punctuation to help
communicate their intended
meaning, with a focus on the use of:
quotation marks to indicate direct
speech; commas to mark
grammatical boundaries within
sentences; capital letters and final
punctuation to mark the beginning
and end of sentences
3.8 produce pieces of published work
to meet identified criteria based on
the expectations related to content,
organization, style, use of
conventions, and use of presentation
Breaking Down the Coding Expectations in Science & Technology:
In the Grade 5 Science & Technology curriculum, there are 2 coding related expectations:
A2.1 write and execute code in investigations and when modelling concepts, with a focus on using different
methods to store and process data for a variety of purposes
A2.2 identify and describe impacts of coding and of emerging technologies on everyday life, including skilled
To paraphrase these expectations and express them in plainer language, students are being asked to:
write code to demonstrate a science-related concept, focusing on using data to influence code
show how coding impacts our lives
Both expectations will be addressed through the project.
Learning Goals: We are learning to write code to create an animated story to teach others about internal and external
forces acting on structures.
Success Criteria:
1. I can use a variety of event blocks to trigger different parts of my story
2. I can use conditionals to respond to data in my code
3. I can use the Ask () and Wait blocks to seek input from my user
4. I can show different internal and external forces
STEM Profile:
Architects are people who design and construct buildings. More than anyone,
they know the importance of considering forces acting on structures to create
strong and stable buildings that are also beautiful!
Chris Cornelius is a citizen of the Oneida Nation, in what is also known as
Wisconsin, and is the founder of Studio:Indigenous, an architecture firm with a
focus on serving Indigenous clients and designing buildings that elevate and
value Indigenous ways of knowing, while respecting the natural landscape. Chris
lives and works on the ancestral lands of the Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk and
Menominee people where Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk,
Menominee, Oneida and Mohican nations remain present.
Chris Cornelius was among a group of Indigenous architects who represented Canada in the 2018 Venice Architecture
Biennale, and he was a design collaborator on the Indian Community School of Milwaukee (ICS), which won the 2009
AIA Design Excellence award from the Committee on Architecture for Education.
If we want to be like Chris Cornelius, then we will need to understand the internal and external forces that act on
structures. Let’s get started!
Minds On:
1. Students will have different experience levels when it comes to coding.
a. If students have never experienced coding before, please watch the “What is Coding?” video.
b. If students have experienced coding before, have a quick discussion in which students share their definition
of coding. Some responses to look for include:
i. Coding is the language that computers speak
ii. Coding is how we talk to computers or get computers to do what we want
iii. Coding is the instructions that we give to a computer
2. Introduce the idea of a conditional, a statement that allows the computer to respond to different situations (or
conditions) based on a certain set of criteria. There are two main types of conditionals.
a. If/then conditionals are only able to respond to one condition. You can create multiple conditionals to
respond to different data, but each conditional on its own is just able to respond to one condition. Some
real-life examples include:
If it is raining, then bring an umbrella
If you are hungry, then eat a snack
If it is cold outside, then wear a sweater
b. If/then/else conditionals are slightly different. The else can be thought of as a “none of the above” option,
similar to a multiple choice test. The else will only run if the condition for the if/then is false. Some real-
life examples include:
If it is raining, then bring an umbrella, else leave the umbrella at home
If you are hungry, then eat a snack, else don’t eat a snack
If it is cold outside, then wear a sweater, else wear a t-shirt.
Discussion: Can students think of other real-life examples of conditional statements?
3. Brainstorm with students to generate ideas for their animated story that teaches others about the internal and
external forces acting on structures or that centers around a situation in which these forces are at play. Some
sample prompts include:
o What are the differences between internal and external forces?
o What are some examples of internal/external forces?
o What are some real-life situations where internal/external forces are at play?
o What are the effects of internal/external forces on ____?
Planning Our Project:
Provide students with the animated story project planner and encourage students to create between three and four
scenes in their story; however, some students may require more. Students should create an outline of their scenes by
drawing pictures and writing a few words or sentences, including any dialogue that will appear on screen, and starting
to plan their code, if applicable. Teachers may wish to provide a list of words from which to choose, a scribe, or other
assistive technology to support students.
Creating Our Project:
Since every student’s project will be unique, there is no single, step-by-step set of instructions to follow; however, the
information below will support your students in the general process of creating an animated story, as well as key
features that they will likely want to include. This sample code further demonstrates how the project might work and
please note that there is code included for each of the sprites and the stage. For your reference, Scratch determines
where to display sprites and controls movement using a Cartesian coordinate system, with (0,0) being the center of the
screen and it may be helpful to pre-teach this concept, if it is one with which students are unfamiliar.
1. Choose or create your backdrop(s) for the project. If adding multiple backdrops, all of them can be added now or
later on but be sure to rename your backdrops as appropriate to help keep track of them through the project.
2. Delete the cat sprite that is automatically added to your project and press the “choose a sprite“ button to select a
new sprite. You may wish to add all sprites that will be needed at this time. Remember that each sprite is
programmed separately, so be sure that you have selected the correct sprite before starting to write your code.
3. Your code must always start with an Event block. In this project, you will likely use the “When Green Flag Clicked
block. You will also likely use the When I Receive ()block, in combination with the “Broadcast ()block throughout
your code to trigger events to create the appearance of interactions between your sprites.
4. Some key features you may wish to use to set a “starting state” for your sprites include:
a. Use the Switch Backdrop To () block to set your starting backdrop and use the Switch Costume To () block
to set the starting costume for your sprite, if appropriate (more on this below).
b. Go To X () Y () will allow you to set a static position for your sprite. This can be used at the start of a line of
code in order to set a “starting position”
c. The Show and Hide blocks can be used intermittently throughout your code in order to have sprites appear
on screen or become “invisible” until a later time.
d. If you plan on having a sprite rotate at any point in your code, you will also want to set a starting direction
for your sprites using the Point In Direction () block.
Please note that Scratch does not automatically reset” your sprites when you replay your code, so setting a starting
position, direction, and state of show/hide is often necessary.
5. To make your story more interactive, you may wish to use some of the following features:
a. The Say () For () Seconds block will allow you to create a “speech bubble” above a sprite for a certain
amount of time.
b. You can record your own sounds or choose from the ready made sound files in Scratch using the Sound
Editor. Use the Play Sound () Until Done block to play the desired sound clip in full.
c. The Glide () Secs To X () Y () block will allow you to have your sprite glide across the screen to a certain
coordinate. The longer the number of seconds, the slower it will move. This helps create the effect of more
realistic movements.
6. If you are using Scratch’s pre-designed sprites, you can use Costumes to create a more interesting, animated effect
on your characters. If you have designed your own sprites, you will need to create your own costumes using the
Paint Editor.
a. You can use a loop to rotate through all of the sprite costumes. Use a Repeat () block or a Forever block
and, inside of the loop, add a Wait () Seconds block. Set it to anywhere between 0.25 and 0.5 seconds (i.e.,
the shorter the time, the faster the animation will run). A setting of 0.5 seconds makes the animation fairly
realistic, without being too fast.
b. Still inside of the loop, add the Next Costume block. This will ensure that each time the loop cycles through,
it moves on to the next costume in the series. If you have used a Repeat () block, then you will need to use
the number of costumes available for the sprite to calculate how many times the loop should repeat (i.e.,
if there are four costumes available for your sprite, setting the loop to 4 will be one full rotation through
all the costumes).
7. Using the Broadcast () block paired with the When I Receive () block can allow you to trigger certain events to create
a more interesting story. Be sure to use short and clear names for your messages to keep track of them. See the
sample code for more detail on how this block can be used.
8. If students wish to create multiple backdrops for their project, they will need to use the Switch Backdrop To () block
to rotate between backdrops. They may also wish to use the When Backdrop Switches To () block in order to trigger
certain events upon the changing of a backdrop. See the sample code for more detail on how this block can be used.
9. To make your story more interactive, use the Ask () And Wait block to request input from the user. To actually use
the response provided to influence your code, follow the steps below:
a. Use an If () Then or If () Then, Else block to create a condition to evaluate what response was given.
b. In the blank space of the block, add a () = () from the green Operators menu.
c. In the first blank space of the () = () block, add the Answer block from the blue Sensing menu. This variable
will store whatever response the user provided in the most recent Ask () and Wait section. In the second
blank space of the () = () block, add the desired response.
d. In the open space of the If () Then or the first open space of the If () Then, Else block, add the code that
you wish to run if the user enters the desired information (i.e. correct)
e. In the second open space of the If () Then, Else block, add the code that you wish to run if the user enters
anything other than the desired information (i.e. incorrect).
f. You can use the Join () () block combined with the Answer block to use whatever the user entered and
combine it with more text (e.g. “[user’s response] is not correct. Good guess!”)
Students can take their own photos and upload them as backdrops and/or sprites using the Paint Editor
Instead of written dialogue, students can use the Sound Editor to record their own sounds. The Start Sound ()
and Play Sound () Until Done blocks will allow students to insert those files into their code.
To learn more about Chris Cornelius, architects in general, and internal vs external forces, consider the
following books and/or videos
o Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty
o Young Frank, Architect by Frank Viva
o Forces: Physical Science for Kids by Andi Diehn
o Architecture Adventure: Crash Course Kids #47.2 from Crash Course Kids
o Meet an Architect | Small Meets Big | KiwiCo from KiwiCo
o Grade 5 Science: Identifying External Forces Acting on Structures from Virtual Elementary School
Sharing Our Work/Consolidation: Students can share Scratch projects using these steps.
1. Students should be provided with time to share their projects with others and to engage in self and peer
assessment. This can be done in a variety of different formats, including a gallery walk, whole class presentation, or
“trading” their project with another student. Students can provide feedback in a variety of ways, including written
and verbal. A variety of feedback options and templates are available in Appendix A.
2. An important aspect of assessing student understanding is focusing on the process, not the product. While it is
important to have a final product that functions as intended, students are often asked to produce something within
a limited time frame; therefore, it may be the case that, given more time, a student would be able to produce a
fully functional product.
To assess learning, teachers can conference with students throughout the creation of their projects using the
anecdotal prompts in Appendix B and documenting these discussions using an anecdotal observations chart.
Teachers are encouraged to consider the troubleshooting strategies used by students throughout the project, their
ability to explain how their project works, and what they might do differently in the future.
3. A rubric can be used to evaluate the final product. This and other assessment and evaluation tools can be modified,
as needed.
Low -Tech/No-Tech Modifications:
While it is ideal to have one device per student, this is not the reality for many classrooms. If you are planning to
have students work in groups, consider a maximum group size of 2 students to ensure as much “hands-on” time
with coding as possible. If access to devices is limited, you may wish to implement this lesson as part of a station
rotation within your classroom or use another strategy to work with small groups.
If you have no access to devices, you can:
o print images of the Scratch blocks in the folder at this link, cut them out and have students create their
code with paper blocks instead.
o You may also wish to print out images of the background scenes and characters to further support students
Appendix A: Self and Peer Feedback
Student Self Assessment
o Thumbs Up
Peer Assessment
o Two Stars and a Wish