ACS: Inquiry in Action - Investigating the Weather (Lesson 1.6): Designing a Shade Structure

Students design, build, and test a structure to block the sun to investigate the question: How can you design and build a shade structure to make an area cooler?


Students will design and build a structure that can block the sun to create a shaded area and will test to see if the shady spot is cooler.

Key Concepts

  • Sunlight warms the Earth’s surface.
  • Certain structures are designed to block the sun’s light to create shade and reduce the warming effect of the sun.
  • Designing and building a structure to shade an area from the sun takes planning, testing, and possibly changing the structure until it works best.

NGSS Alignment

  • K-PS3-1: Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface.
  • K-PS3-2: Use tools and materials to design and build a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an area. (This performance expectation integrates traditional science content with engineering through a practice or disciplinary core idea.)


  • As a class, students go outside on a sunny day and go under a tree or in the shadow of the school building to get in the shade. Students should feel that it is cooler in the shade than in the sun.
  • Students look at pictures of structures designed to block the sun to make shade.
  • Students design and build a small structure to provide shade and then test whether their structure helps keep a surface cooler than the same surface exposed to the sun.

Engineering Topics
K-6, Educator
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Lesson Plan (PDF) | Teacher Background (PDF) | Connections to NGSS (PDF)

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