The Boxcar Children
I am mad! I just learned that my very favorite childhood book was one of a series, and no one ever told me about the rest of them!! In the 3rd or 4th grade (I can’t remember which), our class read Surprise Island by Gertrude Chandler Warner. What a book full of surprises and discovery! The children in the story used their inventiveness to live on an island for the summer. Little did I know that it was just one (the second one) in the Boxcar Children series. Gertrude Warner wrote the first 19, and there are now more than 130 titles! These are oldies (originally published in 1924!) but goodies! I can’t wait to share these award-winning classics with my granddaughters!
So what do these books have to do with science? As necessity is the mother of invention, they are filled with engineering. In the first of the series the children want to make a swimming pool in a stream. They must design a way to dam up the stream to make it about four feet deep. They also need a cart to haul stones for the dam. You guessed it—more engineering! What a great way to introduce an engineering unit or activity for grades 2—5 than to read an excerpt from one of these books! Your children, grandchildren, or students will be eager to read more! (I can’t wait to read more!)
K-2-ETS1-1 Engineering Design: Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
K-2-ETS1-2 Engineering Design: Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
3-5-ETS1-1 Engineering Design: Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
3-5-ETS1-2 Engineering Design: Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.