ITEEA The Elementary STEM Journal, Vol. 2, Issue 1
PublisherInternational Technology and Engineering Educators Association, Reston
ReleasedAugust 28, 2019
The Elementary STEM Journal, Volume 24, Issue 1 - September 2019

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Table of Contents

From Books to Briefs: Peter's Pocket

ESJSept19BB1Book Used:

Keats, E. J. (1976)

The Snowy Day

New York: NY: Puffin Books. [40 Pages; ISBN 9780140501827]

URL (Read Aloud):

Book image courtesy of     (

Grade Level: K-1


book synopsis

Peter awakes one day to see that it snowed. He spends his day doing snow-related activities such as making snow angels, snowmen, and snowballs. He attempts to keep a snowball for later in his pocket. Later that night while taking a bath, Peter remembers to check on his snowball. When he looks in his pocket, it is soaking wet. Peter is sad that his snowball is gone, but he wakes the next morning to even more snow and more snow fun.


lesson synopsis

After reading the book aloud with the class, the teacher will present the states of matter, and relate them to Peter’s melted snowball. Students will work in small groups to design and build a pocket-sized container where snow or ice will be kept cold. The students will test their solution for change in temperature, discuss their results, and share the results through visual presentations with their peers.


lesson goals

The goal of this lesson is for students to design and build a product that takes properties of materials into consideration, while logging their experiences through the engineering design process.


lesson objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Distinguish if a temperature is greater, less, or equal to other temperatures.
  • Display and describe ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Organize, represent, and interpret temperature data over time.
  • Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about their solution to a problem and clearly present those findings to peers using words and drawings.
  • Compare the strengths and weaknesses of different solutions based on data.
  • Design and construct a solution to a problem using the design process and following all constraints and criteria.
  • Recognize that everyone can design solutions to problems.


standards addressed

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

English Language Arts:


◦      Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.


◦      Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.




◦      Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group.


◦      Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.


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

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.


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

Standard 8, K-2, Benchmark A

◦      Everyone can design solutions to a problem.

Standard 11, K-2, Benchmark B

◦      Build or construct an object using the design process.

ESJSept19BB2  ESJSept19BB3

design brief

Student Introduction

Peter spent the day playing in the snow. After a long day, Peter decided to make a snowball and put it in his pocket for later. While taking his nightly bath, Peter remembered that he left his snowball in his pocket. By the time he checked to see if his snowball was still there, all that was left was water. Can you make a better container for Peter that would keep his snowball from melting so quickly?



Plan and build a pocket-sized container that will keep ice or snow at the coldest temperature for at least 15 minutes.


Criteria and Constraints

The container must meet these expectations:

  • Must fit inside a provided coat pocket
  • Must hold at least 2 ice cubes or ½ cup of snow
  • Must only use materials provided
  • Cannot leak

Note: Ice cubes or snow do not fully melt in 15 minutes.



  • Timekeeping device
  • Thermometer
  • Copy paper
  • Plastic cups (12 & 16 oz.)
  • Foam insulated cups (12-16 oz.)
  • Standard newspaper
  • Craft foam
  • Cardboard, assorted sizes and types
  • Cotton balls
  • Masking tape
  • ½ cup measure
  • Child-size coat with pocket



  1. After reading the book, The Snowy Day, have students hypothesize with a partner reasons why they believe the snow melted.
  2. The instructor will explain three states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas) and why snow melts. Consider using a short video to help explain such as
  3. Assign students to groups of 2-3 students each, including roles for each group member (e.g., Lead Designer, Construction Manager, Testing Director).
  4. Present students with the Design Brief and review project requirements. Having examples of different-shaped pockets to spark imagination, and proof of different possible solution ideas would be helpful at this point.
  5. If developmentally appropriate, have students document their full design process using the design journal ( Each group should research different styles of pockets and containers for keeping snow/ice cold.
  6. As students work through the design process, the instructor should engage children with questions to promote inquiry.
  7. Explain to students that they will document their testing process using the class poster provided ( Demonstrate how to take temperature measurements and accurately record data. Utilize digital thermometers, if available, as they are more easily read by students. Have students use the precut thermometers (2nd page of poster) to note whether the temperature went up, down, or stayed the same. Consider taking measurements over a longer period of time to show change even better.
  8. At activity conclusion, have each student team present their solutions to peers. They should discuss areas of improvement and strength of each design at this point.
  9. Reinforce that everyone can design solutions to problems by recognizing each student team’s contributions.


support materials

•     Poster Link:

•     Design Journal:



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

International Technology Education Association (ITEA/ITEEA). (2000/2002/2007). Standards for technological literacy: Content for the study of technology. Reston, VA: Author.

Keats, E. J. (1976). The snowy day. New York: NY: Puffin Books.

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


Stacey Lorah is a graduate student at Millersville University. She is a preschool teacher at Head Start in Lancaster County, PA. Stacey has been working with preschool students for the past 14 years. She can be contacted at

Paul Thom is a High School Technology/Engineering Education Teacher at Littlestown High School. He is pursuing his M.Ed. Degree in Technology & Innovation at Millersville University. He can be contacted at