Grade 5

Simple Machines and the Rube Goldberg Design Challenge  Scope and Sequence


Simple machines are the building blocks of more complex ones and energy is the ability to do work.  In this unit students learn that simple machines such as levers, pulleys and inclined planes can capture this energy and put it to work. In the final activity students will participate in the Rube Goldberg Design Challenge.  Using knowledge of simple machines, along with force, energy, and acceleration, students will work in teams to create a Rube Goldberg machine.


Who was Rube Goldberg?

“Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) was a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor and author…Best known for his ‘inventions’, Rube’s early years as an engineer informed his most acclaimed work. A Rube Goldberg contraption... takes a simple task and makes it extraordinarily complicated” (from


What is the Rube Goldberg Design Challenge?

The Design Challenge is an opportunity for fifth graders to use their knowledge of simple machines, acceleration, and resistance to work cooperatively and create a Rube Goldberg device.


Key activities include:

  • Creating a pulley system using K’NEX and math to figure out how much work it takes to pick up an object.
  • Examining a bicycle and isolating the simple machines.
  • Creating a Rube Goldberg device.


By the end of the unit students will be able to:

  • Label the 6 simple machines alone and within a complex machine.
  • Measure both the force and distance and calculate work done in joules.
  • Participate in the Rube Goldberg Design Challenge.
  • Use understanding of 6 simple machines, acceleration, applied and resistant forces, collaboration and the engineering design process.
  • Keep an engineering notebook of the design process.



Marvelous Majority and the Bony Bunch  Scope and Sequence


This unit introduces fifth graders to two important aspects of biology: the use of magnification as an information gathering tool and the use of classification. Fifth graders will learn to use both a hand lens and a microscope. Using their new skills, they will explore classification of animals by examining vertebrates, animals with a backbone or spinal column and invertebrates, animals without a backbone or spinal column.


Key activities include:

  • Looking for vertebrates and invertebrates on land and in a pond and using magnification to make detailed observational sketches and notes.
  • Dissecting a squid and in doing so, learn how to use dissection tools and identify the main organs of a squid.
  • Identifying five mystery skulls in a game that uses clues and student knowledge of vertebrates.


By the end of the unit, students will be able to:

  • Understand the importance of science notebook entries in making scientific predictions.
  • Use magnification tools and in particular, use the microscope competently. Demonstrate the ability to compare and contrast.
  • Identify and/or describe the 5 classes of vertebrates and 8 classes of invertebrates.
  • Identify a mystery mammal skull.
  • Ask questions and exhibit curiosity.
  • Demonstrate research skills to answer questions, gather information and provide evidence to support a claim.



Weather and Water  Unit Overview 

The Weather and Water curriculum will help to build students' scientific skills through inquiry.  Students will observe weather each day and ask questions.  They will then complete observations, conduct experiments and do research in order to answer those questions.

Key activities include:  

  • Collecting data about rainfall, humidity, air pressure, temperature and more from a weather station.
  • Playing the “Complex weather cycle" game in which students act as a drop of water and journey through the water cycle.


By the end of the unit students will be able to:

  • Observe, describe, collect, record and analyze weather data using weather instruments.
  • Identify the properties of air and describe how each contributes to the development of weather.
  • Explain the components that make up weather.
  • Describe the complex water cycle.



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