Elementary School Lesson / Unit Plan Ideas

I know I, for one, would love to hear about lessons you have created or plan to create using your Raspberry Pi in elementary school classrooms so I though I would start a thread where we could share what we use these wonderful things for. Please include:

  • project “name”
  • grade level / subject area
  • standard if it is tied to one
  • Solar Oven Thermometer
  • 3rd Grade Science
  • S3P1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the ways heat energy is
    transferred and measured.

Students build solar ovens and determine success or failure by whether it can melt a marshmellow, and we can put a regular thermometer inside their ovens to measure improvement in design iterations by higher temperatures attained, but standard thermometers must be placed inside the oven making them hard to read without opening the oven.

The thermal sensor could easily be put inside the oven and give a continuous readout of the temperature on the monitor outside of the oven!

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I think that’s very cool! I don’t have a mental image of the solar oven your students build, and marshmallows have a pretty low melting point, but you’ll want to be sure you don’t melt the PCV jacket on the temperature probe. The safe level is about 100°C or the boiling point of water. There’s more info here: https://www.adafruit.com/product/381

The thing that I think is most cool about this, and something I noticed at the workshop yesterday, is that you are planning on integrating the Raspberry Pi into a lesson that’s not related to computing! Using computers as tools, rather than as ends in themselves, can inspire kids to want to learn more about computing.

Something that I’ve brought to classrooms is a “counting card” lesson in binary numbers. There’s probably a way to tie this to a mathematics or computing standard, but I’m not sure which one. I had thought that this was for grades 6 to 10, but it turns out that third graders can do it.

The whole lesson is packaged as a teacher’ s kit for anyone to use in your classes, but it would be really neat if you’d invite me to come present it myself.

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Honestly, bringing technology tools to subject areas other than computing is a lot of what I do. Elementary is so tied to Math, ELA, Science, and Social Studies specific standards that we really have to integrate technology into those areas.

Good to know about the temp limit on the probe. I don’t think we will get too close to that, but it will be a good part of the lesson to have them watch for it. In fact, we can build an alarm system into the program with the buzzer to have it go off a safe temperature before then. Great “real-world” problem mathematical addition to the lesson and very relevant to that specific Science standard because knowing the boiling point of water is part of it.


The alarm buzzer is a terrific idea!