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  • Middle School

    Engineering Design

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. MS-ETS1-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. MS-ETS1-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success. MS-ETS1-3

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved. MS-ETS1-4

    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.

Science and Engineering Practices

Asking Questions and Defining Problems

Asking questions and defining problems in grades 6–8 builds from grades K–5 experiences and progresses to specifying relationships between variables and clarifying arguments and models.

Developing and Using Models

Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to developing, using, and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems.

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to constructing a convincing argument that supports or refutes claims for either explanations or solutions about the natural and designed world(s).

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

  • RST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-ETS1-1), (MS-ETS1-2), (MS-ETS1-3)
  • RST.6-8.7 - Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table). (MS-ETS1-3)
  • RST.6-8.9 - Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic. (MS-ETS1-2), (MS-ETS1-3)
  • SL.8.5 - Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest. (MS-ETS1-4)
  • WHST.6-8.7 - Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration. (MS-ETS1-2)
  • WHST.6-8.8 - Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation. (MS-ETS1-1)
  • WHST.6-8.9 - Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis reflection, and research. (MS-ETS1-2)

Mathematics

  • 7.EE.B.3 - Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically. Apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form; convert between forms as appropriate; and assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies. (MS-ETS1-1), (MS-ETS1-2), (MS-ETS1-3)
  • 7.SP.C.7 - Develop a probability model and use it to find probabilities of events. Compare probabilities from a model to observed frequencies; if the agreement is not good, explain possible sources of the discrepancy. (MS-ETS1-4)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (MS-ETS1-1), (MS-ETS1-2), (MS-ETS1-3), (MS-ETS1-4)

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.
  • This article describes an engineering design task that engages students in the creation of polymers.  The lesson follows the 5E format of Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, and Evaluate. Students use the engineering design cycle to develop a poly ...

  • This activity from the Teach Engineering Digital Library engages students in the engineering design process as they build physical models of roller coasters using foam pipe insulation and marbles.  The lesson features a host of instructional sup ...

  • This is one activity out of the Project Learning Tree  Pre K-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide. Project Learning Tree® (PLT) is a program of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative that offers high-quality instructional materials for grad ...

  •      Students test various endothermic and exothermic changes and reactions, then use their findings to design a reptile egg carrier.  The egg carrier must reach a specific temperature range and be designed to protect a repti ...

  • Students will experiment with magnets to identify magnetic properties and the differences between contact and non-contact forces.  They will use their discoveries, based on the results of their experiments, to design and build a "levitating ...

  •   This assessment is one of the first that was published by Achieve, the organization that coordinated the writing of the Next Generation Science Standards.  It includes a standards bundle (integration) of nine CCSS-Math standards, three ...

  • The article describes an engineering project that is to be done as the culminating event in a unit on biodiversity and adaptation.  Students apply what they have learned about these disciplinary core ideas to design products for humans that are ...

  • In the Pollution Patrol lesson, students work in teams to design and build their own outdoor air pollution detectors out of everyday items. They design, refine and then test their air pollution detectors, and then see how many particulate pollutants ...

  • In this lesson, students use their knowledge of forces to answer the driving question: What components and materials can be used to create a model chair lift, designed to carry a set of aid materials?  They use the Engineering Design Process to ...

  •   Musical Plates-A Study of Plate Tectonics is an internet-based multidisciplinary project. Musical Plates - A Study of Plate Tectonics is one of 3 Musical Plates projects found on the k12 science.org” This review is a description of th ...

  • In this series of 5 lessons, students first build up a background knowledge of thermal energy transfer, distinguishing heat from temperature. They then investigate the insulative properties of various materials. They use this background learning to d ...

  • In this short unit students are introduced to erosion and propose solutions to an erosion problem on school grounds. The teacher first briefly demonstrates what erosion is, and then students investigate examples of natural or human caused erosion on ...

  • The overarching unit has students learn about, design, and build biosuits - suits designed to protect people in potentially dangerous conditions while allowing for complex tasks to still be completed. This review focuses on lessons 3 and 4 of that tw ...

  • This 25 minute movie from PBS highlights the work of a group of female, middle school students in a science club. Very short cartoon portions of the video can be edited off of the beginning and end. The goal of the group of students is to improve the ...

  • In this lesson, students become bioengineers, trying to effectively and safely restore “blood flow” through a model clogged artery. Background work, including dissection ideas, provides students with an understanding of circulatory system ...

  • This article by Dr. Stuart Burge provides step-by-step directions on how to use a Pugh Matrix (also called a Pugh Chart, Pugh Method, and Decision Matrix). A Pugh Matrix is used by engineers to evaluate multiple design options based on a set of crite ...

  • This lesson plan introduces students to the process of plating one metallic object with another metal and the importance of this process in engineering applications. With parameters, students design strategies to copperplate other metal objects using ...

  • The president has sent out a memo to engineers in the state of “Alabraska”—your help is needed to save the human population from an asteroid impact! This lesson plan is the first in a series of 8 developed at the Colorado School of Mines. In this int ...

  • Do you have a great resource to share with the community? Click here.
  • This is a guide given in Science 8 class on Day 1.

  • Science Class Day 2 worksheet

  • Reading for Day 3 of Science, or to be used as a homework reading.

  • From TeachEngineering - Students design, build and test model roller coasters using foam tubing, toothpicks and masking tape. As if they are engineers, teams compete to create the winning design based on costs and aesthetics. Guided by three workshee...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students apply the concepts of conduction, convection and radiation as they work in teams to solve two challenges. One problem requires that they maintain the warm temperature of one soda can filled with water at approximately...

  • From TeachEngineering - Working as if they were engineers, students design and construct model solar sails made of aluminum foil to move cardboard tube satellites through “space” on a string. Working in teams, they follow the engineering design think...

  • From TeachEngineering - As part of a design challenge, students learn how to use a rotation sensor (located inside the casing of a LEGO® MINDSTORMS ® EV3 motor) to measure how far a robot moves with each rotation. Through experimentation and measurem...

  • From TeachEngineering - In this activity, students examine how to grow plants the most efficiently. They imagine that they are designing a biofuels production facility and need to know how to efficiently grow plants to use in this facility. As a mean...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students gain first-hand experience with the steps of the scientific method as well as the overarching engineering design process as they conduct lab research with the aim to create a bioplastic with certain properties. Studen...

  • 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 - This hands-on experiment provides students with an understanding of the issues that surround environmental cleanup. Student teams create their own oil spills, try different methods for cleaning them up, and then discuss the me...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students are introduced to two real-life problems that can be solved by using the engineering design process. For the first one, they follow along with a slide presentation that describes how a group of students built an organ...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students are presented with a guide to rain garden construction in an activity that culminates the unit and pulls together what they have learned and prepared in materials during the three previous associated activities. They ...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students are introduced to renewable energy, including its relevance and importance to our current and future world. They learn the mechanics of how wind turbines convert wind energy into electrical energy and the concepts of ...

  • 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...

  • PowerPoint used within the session. Notes on the slides contain all links, videos and activity guides.

  • 300+ teacher developed middle school and high school challenge-based learning engineering units - created through University of Cincinnati NSF program

  • In this activity, students assume the role of a team of architects that has been commissioned to build a solar house containing both active and passive solar components. First, they must design the house and then build a model. The model is tested to...

  • Students investigate passive solar building design with a focus on heating. Insulation, window placement, thermal mass, surface colors, and site orientation are addressed in the background materials and design preparation. Students test their project...

  • This hands-on activity will provide students with an understanding of the issues that surround environmental clean-up. Students will create their own oil spill, try different methods for cleaning it up, and then discuss the merits of each method in t...

  • In this activity, students collect data and analyze the cost of using energy in their homes and investigate one method of reducing energy use. This activity provides educators and students with the means to connect 'energy use consequences' and 'clim...

  • Students explore how various energy sources can be used to cause a turbine to rotate and then generate electricity with a magnet.

  • In this activity learners work in pairs or small groups to evaluate energy use in their school and make recommendations for improved efficiency. Students create and use an energy audit tool to collect data and present recommendations to their class. ...

  • Students go through the design process and the scientific process to test the effect of blade design on power output. There is an optional extension to use the data to create an optimal set of wind turbine blades.

  • This lesson plan engages students in a real-life exploration of climate change as it is affected by greenhouse emissions from vehicles. The aim of this activity is for students to realize the impact of vehicle use in their family and to give students...

  • This activity features video segments from a 2007 PBS program on solar energy. Students follow a seven-step invention process to design, build, and test a solar cooker that will pasteurize water. In addition, they are asked to describe how transmissi...

  • This activity introduces wind energy concepts through a reading passage and by answering assessment questions. The main section of the activity involves constructing and testing a windmill to observe how design and position affect the electrical ener...

  • This activity includes an assessment, analysis, and action tool that can be used by classrooms to promote understanding of how the complex current issues of energy, pollution, supply, and consumption are not just global but also local issues.

  • This is a debate-style learning activity in which student teams learn about energy sources and are then assigned to represent the different energy sources. Working cooperatively, students develop arguments on the pros and cons of their source over th...

  • This activity is a learning game in which student teams are each assigned a different energy source. Working cooperatively, students use their reading, brainstorming, and organizational skills to hide the identity of their team’s energy source whil...

  • This Flash animation describes how hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) combine the benefits of gasoline engines and electric motors and can be configured to obtain different objectives, such as improved fuel economy, increased power, or additional auxili...

  • This is a utility-scale, land-based map of the mean annual wind speed 80 meters above the ground. This map can be used to evaluate the potential for wind energy in the US. State maps and more information are linked from the main map.

  • In this activity, students explore energy production and consumption by contrasting regional energy production in five different US regions.

  • This slideshow lays out a photo story with short descriptions of how designers of city buildings all over the world are taking climate change and rising sea level seriously.

  • In this interactive, students can investigate a typical hydrogen fuel cell prototype car from its fuel cell stacks to its ultracapacitor, a kind of supplementary power source. The limited-production vehicle seen in this feature is a Honda 2005 FC...

  • In this activity, students conduct a life cycle assessment of energy used and produced in ethanol production, and a life cycle assessment of carbon dioxide used and produced in ethanol production.

  • A set of eight photographs compiled into a series of slides explain how urban areas are facing challenges in keeping both their infrastructure and their residents cool as global temperatures rise. Chicago is tackling that problem with a green design ...

  • In this hands-on activity, students explore whether rooftop gardens are a viable option for combating the urban heat island effect. The guiding question is: Can rooftop gardens reduce the temperature inside and outside of houses?

  • This interactive visualization provides information in text, graphic, and video format about renewable energy technologies. Resource in the Student's Guide to Global Climate Change, part of EPA Climate Change Division.

  • In this hands-on activity, students examine how the orientation of a photovoltaic (PV) panel -- relative to the position of the sun -- affects the energy-efficiency of the panel.

  • In this activity, students explore real data about renewable energy potential in their state using a mapping tool developed by NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) to investigate the best locations for wind energy, solar energy, hydropower, g...

  • This small-group activity uses engineering concepts to design energy systems for three off-the-grid towns in Mali, Ethiopia, and Namibia.

  • In this activity, students work through the process of evaluating the feasibility of photovoltaic solar power in 4 different US cities.

  • This online activity challenges students to design a renewable energy system for one of five different cities, each with different energy resource potential and budgets. Students can test their designs using real-time weather data in each city.

  • From TeachEngineering - Students build their own small-scale model roller coasters using pipe insulation and marbles, and then analyze them using physics principles learned in the associated lesson. They examine conversions between kinetic and potent...

  • From TeachEngineering - Using spaghetti and marshmallows, students experiment with different structures to determine which ones are able to handle the greatest amount of load. Their experiments help them to further understand the effects that compres...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students use a small quantity of modeling clay to make boats that float in a tub of water. The object is to build boats that hold as much weight as possible without sinking. In the process of designing and testing their protot...

  • From TeachEngineering - In this two-part activity, students design and build Rube Goldberg machines. This open-ended challenge employs the engineering design process and may have a pre-determined purpose, such as rolling a marble into a cup from a di...

  • From TeachEngineering - Waterwheels are devices that generate power and do work. Student teams construct waterwheels using two-liter plastic bottles, dowel rods and index cards, and calculate the power created and work done by them.

  • From TeachEngineering - Students are challenged to design and build spinners that spins the longest. They build at least two simple spinners to conduct experiments with different mass distributions and shapes. Use this hands-on activity to demonstrat...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students learn about stress and strain by designing and building beams using polymer clay. They compete to find the best beam strength to beam weight ratio, and learn about the trade-offs engineers make when designing a struct...

  • From TeachEngineering - How can you tell if harmful bacteria are growing in your food? Students learn to culture bacteria in order to examine ground meat and bagged salad samples, looking for common foodborne bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella. A...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students learn the different airplane parts, including wing, flap, aileron, fuselage, cockpit, propeller, spinner, engine, tail, rudder, elevator. Then they each build one of four different (provided) paper airplane (really, g...

  • From TeachEngineering - Working as engineering teams, students design and create model beam bridges using plastic drinking straws and tape as their construction materials. Their goal is to build the strongest bridge with a truss pattern of their own ...

  • From TeachEngineering - Student groups are challenged to design and construct model towers out of newspaper. They are given limited supplies including newspaper, tape and scissors, paralleling the real-world limitations faced by engineers, such as ec...

  • From TeachEngineering - After a discussion about what a parachute is and how it works, students create parachutes using different materials that they think will work best. They test their designs, and then contribute to a class discussion (and possib...

  • From TeachEngineering - Student groups are given a set of materials: cardboard, insulating materials, aluminum foil and Plexiglas, and challenged to build solar ovens. The ovens must collect and store as much of the sun's energy as possible. Students...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students explore how tension and compression forces act on three different bridge types. Using sponges, cardboard and string, they create models of beam, arch and suspension bridges and apply forces to understand how they disp...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students design and build model landfills using materials similar to those used by engineers for full-scale landfills. Their completed small-size landfills are "rained" on and subjected to other erosion processes. The goal is ...

  • From TeachEngineering - Student teams investigate biomedical engineering and the technology of prosthetics. Students create lower-leg prosthetic prototypes using various ordinary materials. Each team demonstrate its device's strength and consider its...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students work with specified materials to create aqueduct components that can transport two liters of water across a short distance in the classroom. The design challenge is to create an aqueduct that can supply Aqueductis, a ...

  • From TeachEngineering - Following the steps of the engineering design process and acting as biomedical engineers, student teams use everyday materials to design and develop devices and approaches to unclog blood vessels. Through this open-ended desig...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students reinforce their knowledge of the different parts of the digestive system and explore the concept of simulation by developing a pill coating that can withstand the churning actions and acidic environment found in the s...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students work in pairs to create three simple types of model bridges (beam, arch, suspension). They observe quantitatively how the bridges work under load and why engineers use different types of bridges for different places. ...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students use their knowledge about how healthy heart valves function to design, construct and implant prototype replacement mitral valves for hypothetical patients' hearts. Building on what they learned in the associated lesso...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students groups use balsa wood and glue to build their own towers using some of the techniques they learned from the associated lesson. While general guidelines are provided, give students freedom with their designs and encour...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students design and build their own model levees. Acting as engineers for their city, teams create sturdy barriers to prevent water from flooding a city in the event of a hurricane.

  • From TeachEngineering - Working in teams of four, students build tetrahedral kites following specific instructions and using specific materials. They use the basic processes of manufacturing systems – cutting, shaping, forming, conditioning, assembli...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students learn about the process of reverse engineering and how this technique is used to improve upon technology. Students analyze push-toys and draw diagrams of the predicted mechanisms inside the toys. Then, they disassembl...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students act as Mars exploratory rover engineers. They evaluate rover equipment options and determine what parts fit in a provided NASA budget. With a given parts list, teams use these constraints to design for their rover. Th...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students design and build devices to protect and accurately deliver dropped eggs. The devices and their contents represent care packages that must be safely delivered to people in a disaster area with no road access. Similar t...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students learn about the engineering design process and how it is used to engineer products for everyday use. Students individually brainstorm solutions for sorting coins and draw at least two design ideas. They work in small ...

  • From TeachEngineering - In this activity, students act as environmental engineers involved with the clean up of a toxic spill. Using bioremediation as the process, students select which bacteria they will use to eat up the pollutant spilled. Students...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students use everyday building materials—sand, pea gravel, cement and water—to create and test pervious pavement. They learn what materials make up a traditional, impervious concrete mix and how pervious pavement mixes differ....

  • From TeachEngineering - Students use simple household materials, such as PVC piping and compact mirrors, to construct models of laser-based security systems. The protected object (a "mummified troll" or another treasure of your choosing) is placed "o...

  • From TeachEngineering - Students gain a basic understanding of the properties of media—soil, sand, compost, gravel—and how these materials affect the movement of water (infiltration/percolation) into and below the surface of the ground. They learn ab...

  • Four secondary lessons that accompany the documentary film, Ocean Frontiers II. Part 2 of a 3-part set for the film series.

  • Four secondary lessons that accompany the documentary film, Ocean Frontiers III. Part 3 of a 3-part set for the series.

  • Civil engineers design structures such as buildings, dams, highways and bridges. Student teams explore the field of engineering by making bridges using spaghetti as their primary building material. Then they test their bridges to see how much weight ...

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