Teaching Strategies Unit Guides

Engineering Unit – Teacher’s Guide

Welcome! This post has been written with the intention of helping you plan an engaging and comprehensive Engineering Unit for your middle school science class. If you’re arriving to this page from somewhere other than the Teachers Pay Teachers site, this is the product that this guide was written for. Here’s how I teach using these resources:

Note: Items are listed in the order in which they would be used. Lessons are not broken into specific “days” as many of us have vastly different timings per class period. 

  1. Engineering Vocabulary Activities 
    I always start my units with a vocabulary sheet. I’ve found this works for me for several reasons. 1) All students get an introduction to the vocabulary they’ll be required to learn. 2) All students are capable of this task. No copy pasting, only writing. For difficult students, this is a chance to praise them for successfully completed work. They will do it, because they can. 3) I need a very unfun assignment for early test finishers that won’t incentivize students to rush. I always pass out the vocabulary for the next unit as students finish the test from the previous unit. If you’re going in cold, you may not want to do it this way.
    This product also includes two other vocabulary activities which work great when a lesson doesn’t quite finish the class as a time filler.
  2. Vocabulary Crossword
    I’ve recently added yet another vocab activity to this bundle. In this crossword, students read definitions as clues and fill in the words in the spaces. I really enjoy the “self checking” aspect of crosswords as it prevents wrong information from being studied.
  3. Tower Building
    I like to start my unit with this fun hook. The spaghetti and marshmallow towers are a fun favorite, but I’ve recently switched to using aluminum foil instead. I distribute about 2 feet of aluminum foil and a bit of tape to each student or group, set a timer, and let them experience the whole engineering process on their own, especially failure. This experience should anchor the students’ learning throughout the rest of the unit.
  4. Intro to Engineering: Presentation
    Introduce students to the wonderful world of applied science in the four main fields of engineering: civil, mechanical, electrical, and chemical. Some important engineering vocabulary will be touched on as well. This lesson uses the internet as students are given a chance to explore recent developments in all the fields of engineering. Science is relevant!
  5. Adaptive and Assistive Bioengineering Web Activity
    Next, have students explore the world of bioengineering with this fun webquest! They’ll read an article on Popular Mechanics and classify each of the technologies as adaptive or assistive. I find this is a great way to get kids out of the mindset that engineers only design things like buildings and bridges. Even contact lenses or the pencil in your hand require engineering!
  6. Bill Nye: Inventions
    What kind of teacher would you be if you didn’t introduce our students to the greatest teachers of this century: Bill Nye and Mrs. Frizzle. Take a 20 minute break to mark some papers while the kids shout “BILL! BILL! BILL!”
  7. Emergency Sub Plans: Inventions Webquest
    Unless you need to save this one for a day off, this webquest is a great follow up to the Bill Nye video. Students will do their own research to discover a variety of inventions from the past and present.
  8. Engineering Design Process: Presentation
    To close out the teacher led learning of this unit, I like to do a quick review of the Engineering Design Process to lead my students into their final project.
  9. Engineering Quiz (FREE)
    Perhaps right before beginning their summative project is a good time to quiz the students on their learning so far. This is a quick quiz that shouldn’t take more than half an hour of class time.
  10. The Invention Convention
    YES! The Invention Convention is a crowd favorite at my school and a best seller in my store! In order to truly learn about engineering, students must create! This fun 7 day project takes students through all the steps of designing, planning, and creating their own technology. Daily intro lessons are included (less than 10 mins each), as well as a student booklet that can be used as a daily log. Check out some more of our student work here. Note: I would definitely count this project as a summative grade.
  11. Engineering Unit Test
    I like to do two summative grades per unit. One performance based and one written. This unit test is designed satisfy that second requirement. Test your students learning and understanding with this test made to cover a variety of question types and levels.

This product is designed to be affordable and useful to teachers in middle school science. Please leave feedback as to how I could better serve you and others through this bundle or the creation of new resources. My work is meaningful when it takes some of the stress off of YOU.

Teaching is a weird job. I’d love to connect and discuss our successes and failures on my instagram (@laney.leee).  Please reach out and ask me anything.

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