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  • Grades 3-5

    Engineering Design

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. 3-5-ETS1-2

    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

  • RI.5.1 - Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. (3-5-ETS1-2)
  • RI.5.7 - Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently. (3-5-ETS1-2)
  • RI.5.9 - Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably. (3-5-ETS1-2)

Mathematics

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

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 hands-on activity, students apply the engineering design process to create prototype toys with moving parts. They set up electric circuits using batteries, wire, and motors, and plan project materials to meet budget constraints. This act ...

  • In this activity, students learn about oil spills and the effects they have on Earth’s environment. The driving question students will be making sense of is: What can engineers design to prevent oil spills from polluting beaches and harming wil ...

  • This is a two part review of a 10-day module in which students work on several mini-design challenges that culminate in a multi-day engineering design challenge. In the first 6 modules, students focus on Structure and Properties of Matter t ...

  • In this lesson, which is an associated activity to the curated resource The Science of Swinging, students further investigate the variables that affect a pendulum’s motion by riding a playground swing. Students then extend their knowledge ...

  • In this technologically interactive lesson, students generate and compare multiple solutions for transmitting information by sending a message to a phone or tablet using Google’s free Science Journal app.

  • There are four associated activities in this lesson (which is lesson 8 in a unit on natural disasters). In the first three activities, students learn about tornadoes, the damage they cause, and how engineers consider strong winds in their design of s ...

  • In this lesson, students use the engineering design process to solve a problem. They have to figure out how to design a device that will enable them to listen to a mystery sound that is being made by a device hidden in an insulated box. Through this ...

  • This unit is comprised of a series of lessons that follow the 5E model, providing students with opportunities to learn about pollination on different levels. Studying the structures and functions of flowers and bees through text, video, and observati ...

  • In Save our Shore, students can build upon prior knowledge they have of erosion and possibly relate to what they know of damage that was done by Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina. Save our Shore includes a two minute video show ...

  • 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 ...

  • Students will be acting as agricultural engineers as they conduct a scientific experiment to test the effectiveness of a sustainable pest-control technique called soil biosolarization that uses organic waste (oatmeal, flour or cornstarch) r ...

  • This paper rocket activity is part of the NASA Rocket Educator Guide (https://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/topnav/materials/listbytype/Rockets.html) that emphasizes hands-on science, prediction, data collection and interpretation ...

  • 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 observe types of destruction that occur when an earthquake strikes an area in this 5E structured lesson. Students view teacher selected videos before comparing observed earthquake destruction depicted in the Seymour Simon book, Ear ...

  • Students learn about natural hazards and the means engineers have developed to detect these hazards as a means of preventing  natural disasters. Students match engineered natural disaster prevention devices with natural hazards they mi ...

  • Students use a table-top tsunami generator to test how different materials used in house models (created by students and the teacher) are impacted by a simulated tsunami. Students discuss the work of engineers who design buildings and use high-t ...

  • In this activity, students use the SCAMPER brainstorming tool to design a car that can overcome air resistance. The SCAMPER strategy encourages students through a series of questions, to brainstorm things they could change or modify to make a di ...

  • In this culuminating activity, the students will be connecting the scientific phenomena of how electric circuits work into their everyday lives.   Students will be working in pairs to design and wire a shoebox “room” t ...

  • 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 ...

  • This three part lesson presents students with the real-world problem that engineers deal with when constructing earthquake safe buildings on unstable soils. The lesson is designed in the 5E inquiry format. Emphasis is placed on giving students the op ...

  • This engineering design lesson focuses on the effects of erosion on Florida's coastline. It is one lesson offered within a larger weathering and erosion unit. Students groups work to create and use a model able to slow erosion, without damaging t ...

  • This activity helps to demonstrate the importance of rocks, soils, and minerals in engineering and how using the right material for the right job is important. The students build 3 different sand castles composed of varying amounts of sand, water, a ...

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  • Students will examine the growth, composition, history, and uses of corn through a close reading activity, discussion of renewable and non-renewable resources, and hands-on exploration of bioplastics made from corn.

  • From TeachEngineering - Student pairs design and construct small, wind-powered sail cars using limited quantities of drinking straws, masking tape, paper and beads. Teams compete to see which sail car travels the farthest when pushed by the wind (sim...

  • From TeachEngineering - 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. Tea...

  • From TeachEngineering - 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 rock...

  • From TeachEngineering - 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 f...

  • From TeachEngineering - 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 variable...

  • From TeachEngineering - 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 win...

  • From TeachEngineering - 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 des...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students are introduced to brainstorming and the design process in problem solving as it relates to engineering. They perform an activity to develop and understand problem solving with an emphasis on learning from history. Usi...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students filter different substances through a plastic window screen, different sized hardware cloth and poultry netting. Their models show how the thickness of a filter in the kidney is imperative in determining what is filte...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students experience the engineering design process as they design and build accurate and precise catapults using common materials. They use their catapults to participate in a game in which they launch Ping-Pong balls to attem...

  • From TeachEngineering - In this hands-on activity, students investigate different methods—aeration and filtering—for removing pollutants from water. Working in teams, they design, build and test their own water filters—essentially conducting their ow...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students learn about civil engineers and work through each step of the engineering design process in two mini-activities that prepare them for a culminating challenge to design and build the tallest straw tower possible, given...

  • From TeachEngineering - Student groups conduct a scientific experiment to help an engineering team determine which type of insulation conserves the most energy—a comparison of newspaper, wool, aluminum foil and thin plastic. They learn about differen...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students observe a model waterwheel to investigate the transformations of energy involved in turning the blades of a hydro-turbine. They work as engineers to create model waterwheels while considering resources such as time an...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students learn about using renewable energy from the sun for heating and cooking as they build and compare the performance of four solar cooker designs. They explore the concepts of insulation, reflection, absorption, conducti...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students learn how the aerodynamics and rolling resistance of a car affect its energy efficiency through designing and constructing model cars out of simple materials. As the little cars are raced down a tilted track (powered ...

  • From TeachEngineering - The purpose of this activity is to demonstrate the importance of rocks, soils and minerals in engineering and how using the right material for the right job is important. The students build three different sand castles and tes...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students practice the ability to produce clear, complete, accurate and detailed design drawings through an engineering design challenge. Using only the specified materials, teams are challenged to draw a design for a wind-powe...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students see how potential energy (stored energy) can be converted into kinetic energy (motion). Acting as if they were engineers designing vehicles, they use rubber bands, pencils and spools to explore how elastic potential e...

  • From TeachEngineering - In this open-ended design activity, students use everyday materials—milk cartons, water bottles, pencils, straws, candy—to build small-scale transportation devices. They incorporate the use two simple machines—a wheel and axle...

  • From TeachEngineering - Athletes often wear protective gear to keep themselves safe in contact sports. In this spirit, students follow the steps of engineering design process as they design, build and test protective padding for an egg drop. Many of ...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students use their creative skills to determine a way to safely mail raw (dry, uncooked) spaghetti using only the provided materials. To test the packing designs, the spaghetti is mailed through the postal system and evaluated...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students learn how to use wind energy to combat gravity and create lift by creating their own tetrahedral kites capable of flying. They explore different tetrahedron kite designs, learning that the geometry of the tetrahedron ...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students use a table-top-sized tsunami generator to observe the formation and devastation of a tsunami. They see how a tsunami moves across the ocean and what happens when it reaches the continental shelf. Students make villag...

  • Part of 4th grade energy unit. I adapted the typical lesson structure to give it an engineering feel and allow students to apply the engineering design process we've been using in STEM class. For the exit ticket, I showed them a desk lamp plugged int...

  • Scientists and Engineers are Diligent

  • Scientists and Engineers are Inspired

  • Scientists and Engineers are Thinkers

  • Developing and Using Models

  • Scientists and Engineers are Imaginative

  • Scientists and Engineers are Patient

  • Scientists and Engineers are Visionary

  • Scientists and Engineers are Confident

  • Scientists and Engineers are Courageous

  • Scientists and Engineers are Innovative

  • Scientists and Engineers are Clever

  • Scientists and Engineers are Inventive

  • Scientists and Engineers are Persistent

  • Scientists and Engineers Use Design Process

  • Scientists and Engineers Use Idea Development

  • Scientists and Engineers Use Modification

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