ITEEA The Elementary STEM Journal, Vol. 24, Issue 2
PublisherInternational Technology and Engineering Educators Association, Reston, VA
ReleasedDecember 1, 2019
The Elementary STEM Journal, Volume 24, Issue 2 - December, 2019

Search this Publication

Table of Contents

Books to Briefs Stash Your Cash

Books to Briefs 
Stash Your Cash Book cover
by Sharon Brusic, Marie Leatherman, and Donna Painter

Book Used: 
Bair, S. (2006). 
Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock
Park Ridge, IL: Albert Whitman & Company. [32 pages; ISBN 978-0-8075-7995-1] 
Book image courtesy of

Grade Level: 3-5

book synopsis

Twins Rock and Brock are given a savings plan challenge by their grandfather. “Gramps” will give each boy $1 each Saturday for 10 weeks in return for doing chores. But, there’s a catch. Each week, Gramps will also match the amount that each boy has saved. Rock and Brock approach the situation quite differently. One spends a lot, and the other saves everything. By the end of the challenge, readers learn that there’s a huge reward for saving money. The boy who saved comes out way ahead, with $512, and his brother has nothing. The story is told with fun rhyming and colorful cartoon illustrations. It’s a great way to introduce the fundamentals of saving versus spending.

lesson description

The book is a simple way to introduce an important financial concept and serves as the starting point for inspiring children to recognize the rewards of saving money. After discussing the story, children use the design process to create their own coin bank that will get them started saving money.

lesson goal

The primary lesson goal is to engage learners in the engineering design process to solve a technical problem while reinforcing other concepts in math, science, and technology.

student learning objectives

Students will be able to:

•     Use the design process to solve a technical problem that involves converting chemical energy (battery) to electrical energy.

•     Test and observe materials to determine their conductive properties.

•     Interpret mathematical information from a text.

•     Solve word problems involving money.

•     Explain how creative thinking and cultural influences shape technological and engineering developments.

standards addressed

Common Core Standards (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2019):

English Language Arts > Reading: Literature


o      Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.



o      Use the four operations to solve word problems involving distances, intervals of time, liquid volumes, masses of objects, and money.

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013):

•     5-PS1-3

o      Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.

•     4-PS3-4 Energy

o      Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.

Standards for Technological Literacy (ITEEA, 2000/2002/2007):

•     Standard 1, Benchmark E

o      Creative thinking and economic and cultural influences shape technological development (p. 26).

•     Standard 2, Benchmark J

o      Materials have many different properties (p. 35).

•     Standard 9, Benchmark C

o      The engineering design process involves defining a problem, generating ideas, selecting a solution, testing the solution(s), making the item, evaluating it, and presenting the results (p. 102).

Sample Solution  Supply Table

design brief

Student Introduction

Saving money is necessary so you can get the things you want and need. Brock and Rock learned that in our story. What do you want to buy someday when you have enough money?

Banks rely on engineering and technology. In fact, circuits are a part of banks. They are in automated teller machines (ATMs) and security systems. It takes electricity to ensure that your money is safely stored in a bank. Circuits are also involved in giving you access to your money from a computer or smartphone.

How can you start to save money at home so that one day you can open a bank account and put your money to work for you?


Design and build your own coin bank so you can stash your cash and start saving money. Create a bank that’s extra fun by using electricity. A lamp should turn on briefly every time you insert a coin!

Criteria and Constraints

1.     Your bank should work with all types of U.S. coins. 
2.     The lamp should only light when a coin is inserted. It should NOT stay on all of the time. 
3.     There must be an easy way to remove coins from the bank when it’s time to take coins out. 
4.     Use creativity when designing your bank. Make it look appealing. Show your personality.

B2B1  B2B2  B2B3

Materials B2B4

•     Assorted recyclables such as small containers, cardboard, etc. 
•     Coloring utensils (e.g., markers, crayons) 
•     Paper clips (all sizes) 
•     Brass paper fasteners 
•     Craft sticks 
•     Pipe cleaners 
•     Aluminum foil 
•     Tape (masking and clear) 
•     School glue 
•     Scissors 
•     Coin batteries (#CR2025) 
•     Copper tape (see teacher hints) 
•     Assorted LEDs (see teacher hints) 
•     Bell wire (coated, stranded wire) 
•     Hot glue guns and glue sticks (with adult supervision) 
•     Assorted coins (for testing banks)


1.     Read the story aloud with the class. While the book’s reading level is rated as K-3, the math concept in the book is more advanced and appropriate for the Grade 4-5 level. Reading it together as a class enables the teacher to talk through the concepts and helps children to work on the ELA standard. There are charts at the end of the book that are especially helpful for explaining the math.

2.     Discuss the role of engineering and technology in today’s banking system. Show the short videos identified in the reference list to lead into discussion of ITEEA Standard 1E regarding how creative thinking and economic and cultural influences shape technological development.

3.     Supplement this activity with word problems associated with money to promote math skills. Consider using play money to make problems more realistic.

4.     Explain how a basic circuit works. Have students set up a simple circuit and test different materials to categorize them as conductors or insulators before attempting to solve the problem. Using LEDs and copper tape works great with coin batteries. These are purchased fairly cheaply online. Just search “assorted LEDs” and “copper foil tape.”

5.     Have the Everything Money book (Furgang & Hiebert, 2013) available for students to review. It has lots of great facts to support learning across content areas.

6.     Consider using the prepared design brief and design handbook to guide the activity.


Note: The Stash Your Cash Design Brief and

Design Notebook can be found on the ITEEA website at:


Bair, S. (2006). Rock, Brock, and the savings shock. Park Ridge, IL:  Albert Whitman & Company.

Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2019). Common core state standards initiative. Retrieved from

Furgang, K. & Hiebert, F. (2013). Everything money. Washington, DC: National Geographic Partners, LLC.

International Technology Education Association. (2000/2002/2007). Standards for technological literacy: Content for the study of technology (3rd ed.). Reston, VA: Author. (2011). Field trip to the money factory [Video file]. Retrieved from

NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Science Channel. (2016, May 2). Fort Knox in a box: How ATMs work [Video file]. Retrieved from


Donna Painter (left) and Sharon Brusic (right) are faculty members in the Department of Applied Engineering, Safety and Technology at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Marie Leatherman (center) is a graduate student in this department. They can be contacted at:,, and