NGSS Science and Engineering Practices

Unpack the NGSS standards with this fun booklet!

14 pages cover the basics of the NGSS practices of scientists and engineers:

  1. Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  2. Developing and Using Models
  3. Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  4. Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  5. Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
  6. Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  7. Engaging in Argument from Evidence
  8. Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Click here to see the project!

Optionally, in the end, I’ve grouped students and assigned one practice per group. From there, the students were in charge of unpacking substandard and rewording them in “middle school friendly” language.

Here’s an example of a poster made by one of those groups:

Student Example

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STEM Project: The Invention Convention

At our school we designed the Invention Convention to give the kids a way to really practice the engineering skills they had spent so much time learning. Students are encouraged to choose a problem in their everyday lives and then create a solution through new technology.

To walk them through the phases of the project, students are given a booklet where they brainstorm, sketch, and report on their efforts during each day of the project. The booklet also has a checklist where students can keep track of their requirements.

In the end students create a poster with a summary of their project including a title and a description of the problem they are solving.

Invention Convention Sample
Invention Convention Sample

Click here to see the full Invention Convention STEM Project!

And let’s be honest, not all students enjoy perfectionism as much as others. I can’t quite remember what this kid was making, but I hope it was a door stop. Not all projects are created equally!

And of course.. the duds

This year we modified the project to require students to invent something using recycled materials. Here’s what the students came up with!

Here’s what one teacher said:

I am so excited to use this format! Well laid out and easy to implement. Thanks!

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Cell Model Project


Ah yes! The classic cell model project. No doubt a quick Google search will bring up thousands of student examples. I can still remember making my own cell in middle school.  I chose to make my cytoplasm out of Jello, but I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t have access to a refrigerator at school. I submitted a project that more closely resembled a soup than a cell. Cue traumatic memories.

Here’s some things I suggest you consider before beginning your own project:

1. Will you allow projects made of food? If yes, what will those students do during allotted class work time?

2. Will you allow groups?

3. How prepared are you for the mess? Scroll to the end of this post to see what we were dealing with this year in my classroom.

A variation I’ve done in the past was make cell metaphor projects. Check out this cell school made by a few of my students:

Click here to check out my project rubric.

And of course, the best part of middle school projects is the inevitable disasters.

 I love my job 🙂 

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