Teaching Engineering Design

Spiraling the Engineering Design Process in Middle School

by Kimberly Dedini, Anna Som, Mary Ann Sheridan, and Lisa Klar

This module works on teaching engineering design by spiraling the math, science, and engineering standards for 6th through 8th grade students.

Students will work in collaborative teams to experience and become adept with utilizing the Engineering Design Process at each grade level.  6th grade will explore the process, 7th grade will use data to drive decision making, and 8th grade will go through the entire process with an emphasis on iterations.

How are STEM integrated?

6th Grade – Students  will use their knowledge of ratio and proportions to scale down a solar cooker that 8th grade is making.  As part of the process, they will make a conjecture as to whether their solar cooker will produce the same, less, or more heat than their 8th grade counterparts’ solar cookers.  Students will collect data as to how quickly their solar cooker heats up, graph it (online graph tool), and finally compare their data to the 8th grade’s data.  In addition, students will learn about solar heat and the benefits of this form of energy as it relates to their energy footprint left on their ecosystem.

7th Grade – Students will analyze electrical bills; use a watt reader to gather data between 2-3 bulb types  from RCEA “Bust a Watt Activity”; create graphs via Google Sheets to organize and analyze data from their “watts” reading; research the financial and environmental impacts of each bulb type; and create and present to MUSD School Board their recommendations of the best bulb to use in our district.

8th Grade -The MMS team created a unit on energy consumption issues through an investigation of school buildings and grounds.  Students will use mathematical concepts to quantify the scientific data.  Students will utilize the Engineering Design Process to be able to organize information and have a common strategy/language.  Students will watch a video, use online resources, and iPads to integrate technology.



Talks about energy consumption- http://www.westga.edu/energy/index_2262.php

Ted Talk – “A Guide to the Energy of the Earth”

Building Swamp Cooler/ Evaporative Cooling

Energy Game Board – 8th Grade


Alternative Ways to Power Things

7th grade

Light bulb experiment


Meter Reading


Three lessons for energy efficiency:


6th/7th grade



Trees and Energy


Water and Energy


What Is Energy?



A Day without Power


~Has lessons and resources already done

The Engineer Design Process (elementary brake down)


YouTube Videos – you an also search on YouTube, “Design Squad Global” to see all videos.

3-D Printed Hand:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY30wUZUfFA

Kid Engineer:  Bike Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vcma79mVAYw&t=20s

Glow Sticks:  Design Squad:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHDTFHRQDqM