SPIKE™ Essential

Preparing for the Weather

Daniel learned that strong storms can damage pet houses. Help him design a pet house that keeps animals safe even in storms.

45-90 min.
Grade 3


(NOTE: This lesson contains a Part A and a Part B. Both are important to access the full learning of the standard. If time is limited, review both parts to choose elements that meet your students’ needs.)

In this lesson, the key learning is in using a model to support a claim that their pet house design solves a specific problem. Students will design and build that pet house using the example images for inspiration. Encourage them to design and build their own idea for a pet house.

  • Science Background - Preparing for the Weather: Solutions to weather-related structural hazards consider the different ways weather creates hazards:
    • Wind speed and direction, as well as shape, all affect a structure’s stability. Secure connections help structures withstand high winds, as does placing the structure behind something to redirect the wind (e.g., a row of trees).
    • Accumulated snow is very heavy and can be unevenly distributed, which can cause roof collapse. Extra bracing adds strength; slanting allows snow to slide off.
    • Flood damage can be reduced by elevating structures, using materials that can get wet, and sloping the land to drain the water away.
    • Thunderstorms may contain lightning, which can damage structures directly or strike trees that then fall on the structure.
  • Build Prior Knowledge - Preparing for the Weather: Using your core science materials, share information, images, and definitions.
    • Weather-related hazards include damage from high winds, flooding, lightning, or snow.
    • Where and how buildings are constructed and placed on the land can reduce the impact of storm damage.
    • A claim answers a question about a problem and is supported by an argument that uses evidence and reasoning to say why a solution will respond to the problem. Evidence may include reasons, facts, and logical cause-effect relationships (heavy rains cause flooding; lightning causes fires).
    • Key vocabulary: hazard, claim, evidence
  • Building and Programming Experience: Review the suggestions in the Unit Plan. For this lesson, you may also want to
    • Reinforce with the Gyro Sensor and Light tutorials in the SPIKE App Start menu.
    • Use the Sensor, Sound, and Light Blocks sections of the Help>Word Blocks menu in the SPIKE app to provide more support on using and programming the Gyro Sensor, Light Matrix, and sound options in different ways to simulate storm conditions.
    • Use the Hovering Helicopter lesson to build experience using the tilt sensor.

PART A (45 minutes)


(Whole Class, 10 minutes)


Introduce the story’s main character(s) and the first challenge: Daniel learned that strong storms can damage pet houses. Help him design a pet house that keeps animals safe in storms.

  • THINK—Facilitate a brief discussion about the lesson topic(s), using the story picture if you wish.

    • What are some hazards that weather like storms can cause? (Floods, heavy snow, high winds, lightning, tornadoes)
    • How do people design buildings to reduce these hazards? (Possible answers include putting structures on stilts above flood waters using materials that can stay wet, building roofs strong enough to hold heavy snow and slanting them so the snow slides off, avoiding large flat surfaces that can get blown over, using plants to deflect the wind, adding lightning rods, and building storm cellars for tornadoes.)
    • Choose one kind of storm hazard to design and build a model pet house for.
  • Distribute a SPIKE Essential Set and a device to each group.


(Small Groups, 25 minutes)

  • As students work, consider sharing the examples below as support for building or programming. Clarify that they show a pet house with a motorized windbreak. Students’ models should show their chosen storm damage and design idea to protect against it.

  • Have students:

    • Begin to BUILD and PROGRAM a pet house for Daniel that includes one design feature to protect against their chosen storm hazard, using the provided base model and program for inspiration if they wish.
  • Facilitate brainstorming about ways to program storm conditions and models to keep pets safe during a storm, such as how to use the light matrix and thunderstorm sound effect to simulate thunder and lightning, use a tilt sensor to detect if the house is tipping, or add a motorized windbreak like the one in the example.

SPIKE Essential Science Preparing for the Weather - en


(Whole Class, 10 minutes)

  • Gather students for sharing. 

  • Have each group use their progress model to demonstrate and explain:

    • What storm hazard problems (with evidence) their design addresses.
    • How (with evidence) their design reduces the impact of the hazard.
    • Their reasons (evidence) for choosing this design to solve the problem.
    • What their program does.
  • Elicit sharing about students’ work in progress and encourage students to use inspiration from shared ideas.

  • Have students keep their partially completed models intact for use in Part B, where they will Build, Program, and Explain further. Alternatively, allow additional time for rebuilding.

PART B (45 minutes)


(Whole Class, 10 minutes)

  • Repeat the steps from Part A—Explain to support additional sharing, brainstorming, and inspiration for continued model building and programming.


(Whole Class, 25 minutes)

  • Have students:

    • (10 min) Continue to BUILD and PROGRAM, using inspiration from sharing during Explain. For example, they could add and program additional sensors to improve their design.
    • (10 min) Use their completed models to make a claim about how their design will protect pets, adding or clarifying any evidence and reasons from their progress explanation.
  • (5 min) Invite students to share knowledge, ideas, or skills that:

    • Helped them complete the challenge.
    • They learned while building.
  • Have students clean up the sets and work areas.


(Whole Class, 10 minutes)

  • Ask guiding questions to elicit students’ thinking and their decisions while ideating, building, and programming.

Observation Checklist

  • Review the learning objectives (Teacher Support box).

  • Share specific student responses and behaviors at different levels of mastery.

  • Use the checklist to observe students’ progress:

    • Their model has a feature intended to reduce the impact of a specific weather-related hazard.
    • They make a claim about a design that will keep a pet safe from the hazard.
    • They support their claim with evidence about the problems the hazard causes (e.g., winter storms leave heavy snow on the pet house roof, which could make it collapse) and reasons why their design solves that problem for the pet house (e.g., The slanted roof allows heavy snow to slide off so the roof doesn’t break.)

Have each student choose the brick that they feel best represents their performance。

  • Blue brick: I think I can follow instructions to create a program.
  • Yellow brick: I can follow instructions to create a program.
  • Green brick: I can follow instructions to create a program, and I can help a friend do it too.

In their small groups, have your students discuss their experiences working together.
Encourage them to use statements like these:

  • I liked it when you…
  • I’d like to hear more about how you…


Simplify this lesson by:

  • Limiting the possible storm-related hazards to be addressed to one or two options, such as the windbreak suggested by the provided base model/program. Ask students yes/no questions to elicit their explanation.
    Increase the difficulty by:
  • Having students address two or more weather-related hazards in their designs.


Have students research how buildings are designed in their local area to reduce the impact of weather-related hazards. Invite to share research through a preferred method, e.g., in writing, orally, or by video.

If facilitated, this will extend beyond the 45-minute lesson.

Language Arts: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.7

Teacher Support

Students will:

  • Build a model of a pet house designed to reduce the impact of a weather-related hazard.
  • Make a claim about how and why their design reduces the impact of the hazard to keep a pet safe.
  • Support the claim with evidence about the problems the hazard causes and reasons why the design addresses these problems.

(one for every two students)

  • LEGO® Education SPIKE Essential Set
  • Device with the LEGO Education SPIKE App installed
  • NGSS 3-ESS3-1: Make a claim about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impacts of a weather-related hazard.
  • NGSS 3-5-ETS1-1
  • CSTA 1B-AP-15
  • ISTE 1.4.c

Language Arts Extension


Student Material

Student Worksheet

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