Fourth Grade PLTW Curriculum Overview

Energy: Collisions
Students explore the properties of mechanisms and how they change energy by transferring direction, speed, type of movement, and force. Students discover a variety of ways potential energy can be stored and released as kinetic energy. They explain the relationship between the speed of an object and the energy of that object, as well as predict the transfer of energy as a result of a collision between two objects. The design problem is introduced by Angelina, Mylo, and Suzi watching amusement park bumper cars collide. As students solve the problem for this module, they apply their knowledge and skills to develop a vehicle restraint system.
Energy: Conversion
Students identify the conversion of energy between forms and the energy transfer required to move energy from place to place. They also identify and explain how energy can be converted to meet a human need or want. The design problem is introduced through Angelina, Mylo, and Suzi, who need to move donated food from a truck to a food pantry. Students then apply scientific ideas about the conversion of energy to solve this design problem.

Input/Output: Computer Systems
In this exploration of how computers work, students are encouraged to make analogies between the parts of the human body and parts that make up a computer. Students investigate reaction time as a measure of nervous system function. After Mylo suffers a concussion, his friends become interested in how to diagnose concussions and create a reaction-time computer program to assess a baseline before a concussion occurs. Students apply what they have learned to build their own reaction-time measurement devices on tablets. This module has strong connections to the fourth grade Human Brain module.

Input/Output: Human Brain
Students discover how signals passing from cell to cell allow us to receive stimuli from the outside world, transmit this information to the brain for processing, and then send out a signal to generate a response. When Mylo experiences a concussion after falling off a skateboard while not wearing a helmet, he and his friends are motivated to raise awareness about concussions. Inspired by this design problem, students work as part of a team to design, plan, and create a video or podcast to educate children on identifying and preventing concussions.


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