Grade 7 Structures and Mechanisms
Lesson Summary: Students will create an interactive simulation that allows users to identify solid, shell, and frame
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
A2.1 write and execute code in
investigations and when modelling
concepts, with a focus on planning
and designing programs
A2.2 identify and describe impacts of
coding and of emerging technologies
on everyday life, including skilled
D1.1 evaluate environmental, social,
and economic factors that should be
considered when designing and
building structures to meet specific
needs for individuals and
D1.2 evaluate the impact of the
ergonomic design of various tools,
objects, and work spaces on a user’s
health, safety, and ability to work
efficiently, and use this information
to describe changes that could be
made in their own spaces and
D2.1 classify structures as solid
structures, frame structures, or shell
D2.2 describe ways in which the
centre of gravity of a structure affects
the structure’s stability
D2.3 identify the magnitude,
direction, point of application, and
plane of application of the forces
applied to a structure
D2.4 describe the role of symmetry in
structures, and identify instances of
symmetry in various structures
D2.5 describe factors that can cause a
structure to fail
D2.6 identify the factors that
determine the suitability of materials
for use in manufacturing a product or
constructing a structure
D2.7 describe methods engineers and
other professionals use to assess,
improve, and maintain the safety of
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 events influenced by a
defined count and/or subprogram
and other control structures.
C3.2 read and alter existing code,
including code that involves events
influenced by a defined count and/or
subprogram and other control
structures, and describe how changes
to the code affect the outcomes and
the efficiency of the code.
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
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
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 7 Science & Technology curriculum, there are two coding related expectations:
A2.1 write and execute code in investigations and when modelling concepts, with a focus on planning and
designing programs
A2.2 identify and describe impacts of coding and of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence
systems, on everyday life, including skilled trades
To paraphrase these expectations and express them in plainer language, students are being asked to:
Prior to writing any code, students should plan the structure and logic of how their code will work
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 interactive simulation that allows us to identify solid, shell,
and frame structures.
Success Criteria:
1. I can use a variety of event blocks to trigger different parts of my simulation
2. I can use conditionals to respond to data in my code
3. I can use a variety of blocks to seek input from my user
4. I can represent different types of structures
5. I can provide important information about the physical characteristics of different structures.
STEM Profile:
Phil Freelon was a Black American architect who was well known for leading the
designs of many major museums and public spaces dedicated to Black culture in the
United States. Phil was responsible for the design of many notable buildings, such as
the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and
Culture, the Center for Civil & Human Rights, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of
Maryland African American History & Culture and the Museum of the African
Diaspora. In 2012, he was appointed to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts by
President Barack Obama.
Phil was committed to environmental sustainability in his buildings. Sadly, he passed
away in 2019 after a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In honor of his
contributions to architecture, the Harvard Graduate School of Design created the Phil
Freelon Fellowship Fund which provides “financial aid with the intent to expand
academic opportunities for African American and other under-represented
architecture and design students."
Like Phil, we will use our knowledge of structures to help others learn more about the different kinds of structures and
buildings that exist in our world.
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. In small groups or as a whole class, brainstorm with students to generate ideas for their interactive simulation.
Some sample prompts include:
o What are the different types of structures?
o What are similarities and differences between these structures?
o When talking about the different types of structures, what are the most important characteristics that
others should know?
o What are some examples of each of the different types of structures?
Planning Our Project:
Introduce the idea of a flowchart, a type of diagram that shows the sequence of steps involved in performing an
algorithm, with specific symbols used to represent different control structures. The symbols used in a flowchart are:
Oval - used to show the beginning and end of the program
Parallelogram - used to represent input or output
Rectangle - used to show processing (i.e., calculating or
manipulating data)
Diamond - used to show decisions (i.e., conditionals)
Lines and arrows - used to connect the shapes to show the
direction of the steps and to represent loops
Text and labels - included with shapes, as necessary.
Since every student’s project will be different, so will the flowcharts that they
create and the tools or technologies from which they can choose to create
their flowcharts (i.e., pen and paper, dedicated apps and websites for
creating flowcharts). A sample flowchart has been provided below to give a
general sense of what the end product may look like.
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 Ask () and Wait block requires the viewer to input information or data, such as a response to a question.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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!”)
11. At any point, you can use the Wait () Seconds block to insert a pause/delay in your code.
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.
Students may also choose to use the When Sprite Clicked event block to seek input from the user and trigger
the start of different components of their simulation.
To extend their learning and skills, students may wish to:
o Set each sprite size to be proportional to its actual size
o Set each sprite’s position to be proportional to its actual distance from other components in the scene
o Add background sprites and information to represent environmental sustainability
To learn more about Phil Freelon and different kinds of structures, consider the following books and videos:
o Phil Freelon: Community Builder from NCState
o Classifying Structures from Sinclair Speaks Science
o Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty
o The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond by Patrick Dillon
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,