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  • Grades 3-5

    Engineering Design

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved. 3-5-ETS1-3

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections

ELA/Literacy

  • W.5.7 - Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic. (3-5-ETS1-3)
  • W.5.8 - Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources. (3-5-ETS1-3)
  • W.5.9 - Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. (3-5-ETS1-3)

Mathematics

  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (3-5-ETS1-3)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (3-5-ETS1-3)
  • MP.5 - Use appropriate tools strategically. (3-5-ETS1-3)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  • In this engineering design challenge, students use their knowledge of science to help design and build a vehicle that is powered solely by a chemical reaction. First, they figure out the most effective combination of substances and water to create a ...

  • Students explore the origin and nature of earthquakes.  They view an introductory video which demonstrates the measurement of earthquake strength, and ways buildings are constructed to lessen impact. Students then enter a create phase in wh ...

  • Students will be investigating the effect that balanced and unbalanced forces have on straw rockets as they design their own rocket to see how far it can travel. Students will be testing and evaluating variables, as well as collecting and analyzing f ...

  • Students observe and measure a tumblewing glider's motion, conducting a series of investigations to test the effect of changes to the glider's structural features on the flight path and duration of their gliders.  The data coll ...

  • This one and half minute silent video shows the phenomenon of the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge located in Washington state.  The bridge opened to traffic on July 1, 1940 and collapsed only four months later on November 7, ...

  • This engineering activity (Lesson 3) is part of a unit on Earth’s Changing Surface, highlighting earthquakes and how humans can prepare and protect themselves from the forces of nature. The unit follows the 5E model where the students are engag ...

  • Everyday Science Mysteries is an award-winning series that enables students to explore science phenomena/mysteries that occur in their everyday lives.  In this "Everyday Science Mystery" students explore the many variables that affect ...

  • In Feel the Heat, students follow the engineering design process to build a solar hot water heater and redesign their device to see how big a temperature change they can get by changing different variables. The phenomenon of energ ...

  • Students model how NASA uses radios waves signals to encode, transmit and decode information using a metronome and musical instruments.  Students are then challenged to design a faster way to send signals.

  • Students plan and carry out investigations before developing and using models to describe patterns of waves in terms of amplitude and wavelength, and to demonstrate that waves can cause objects to move. Connections are made to real world example ...

  • Students are introduced to the trial, error, and redesign of the engineering process in the book  Captain Arsenio: Adventures and (Mis) adventures in Flight by Pablo Bernasconi. In a follow up activity, students consider ...

  • In this engineering activity, students are challenged to design and construct a roof that will protect a cardboard house from getting wet.   The criteria and constraints for the design is that students need to develop a roofing system ...

  • This activity is one in a series of Mission: Solar System design challenges developed by PBS’s Design Squad, NASA and the National Science Foundation.  Students design, build, and improve a model that mimics gravity-assisted spac ...

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  • Students learn about oil spills and their environmental and economic effects. They experience the steps of the engineering design process as they brainstorm potential methods for oil spill clean-up, and then design, build and re-design oil booms to p...

  • Students act as structural engineers and learn about forces and load distributions as they follow the steps of the engineering design process to design and build small-scale bridges using wooden tongue depressors and glue. Teams brainstorm ideas that...

  • Students revisit the Pop Rockets activity from Lesson 3, in which mini paper rockets are powered by the chemical reaction of antacid-tablets and water in plastic film canisters. This time, however, the design of their pop rockets is limited by budget...

  • Students act as engineers contracted by NASA to create water filtration devices that clean visible particulates from teacher-prepared "dirty water." They learn about the worldwide need for potable water and gain appreciation for why water quality is ...

  • Students design, build and test model race cars made from simple materials (lifesaver-shaped candies, plastic drinking straws, Popsicle sticks, index cards, tape) as a way to explore independent, dependent and control variables. They measure the chan...

  • Students learn about material reuse by designing and building the strongest and tallest towers they can, using only recycled materials. They follow design constraints and build their towers to withstand earthquake and high wind simulations.

  • Students build small-sized prototypes of mountain rescue litters—rescue baskets for use in hard-to-get-to places, such as mountainous terrain—to evacuate an injured person (modeled by a potato) from the backcountry. Groups design their litters within...

Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.