Teaching NGSS Engineering Design Through Media - Elementary (K-5)


  • How Do You Keep Lemonade Cool?

    This video segment adapted from FETCH!™ shows two cast members teaming up to take on a design challenge: Make a lemonade stand that keeps lemonade cool and is sturdy and transportable. With the assistance of master carpenter Norm Abram, the team does an experiment to determine the best insulator for keeping the lemonade cool and then chooses their materials from among those available. Their deliberate approach exemplifies the strengths inherent in the engineering design process. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grades K-8 students.

    Grades: K-8
  • Robo Arm Challenge

    Robotic arms are cool, useful, and fun to make. In this video from Design Squad Nation, kids design and build controllable mechanical arms and use their "robo" arms to lift objects and to play a series of games. As they build their mechanical arms, the kids use the engineering design process, apply a variety of science concepts (e.g., levers and tension and compression), and learn how NASA uses robotic arms in many of its missions.

    Grades: 3-8,13+
  • Soft Landing Challenge

    Cars use airbags. Packages use airbags. Why shouldn't eggs use airbags, too? Kids model NASA's airbag landing system in this activity from Design Squad Nation. They design and build protective covers made of balloons to protect an egg dropped from a height of three feet. Their systems model the airbag landing systems used by three NASA Mars missions. The kids use the engineering design process, apply a variety of science concepts, and learn about NASA's exploration of the solar system. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to students in Grades 3-8.

    Grades: 3-8,13+
  • Modeling Truss Structures

    Cantilever bridges like the Firth of Forth Railway Bridge may look complicated, but the principle on which they're built is very simple. In this video segment from Building Big: "Bridges," David Macaulay describes the forces at work in a cantilever bridge and explains how the bridge's design uses some of these forces to create a very strong and stable span. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grades K-2 students.

    Grades: K-2
  • Wind Powered Vehicles | Engineering is Elementary

    In this activity from Engineering is Elementary, students design, build, and test small vehicles that are powered by puffs of air. The activity is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to students in Grades 3-5.

    Grades: 3-5,13+
  • Tower Power Returns | Engineering is Elementary

    In this activity from Engineering is Elementary, students design, build, and test a tower that can hold up a stuffed animal. The activity is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to students in grades 3-5.

    Grades: 3-5
  • Designing Parachutes: Setting a Context for Engineering | Engineering is Elementary

    In this professional development video from Engineering is Elementary, teacher Jean Facchiano reads a story about an engineering problem and engages her fourth grade students in discussing how the story characters apply the engineering design process.The lesson shows students working on Disciplinary Core Ideas in Engineering Design from the NGSS.

    Grades: 3-5,13+
  • Designing Parachutes: Design Constraints | Engineering is Elementary

    In this professional development video from Engineering is Elementary, teacher Jean Facchiano guides her fourth grade students to research and discuss the factors that need to be considered in the design of a spacecraft. The lesson shows students working on Performance Expectations and Disciplinary Core Ideas in Engineering Design from the NGSS.

    Grades: 3-5,13+
  • Designing Parachutes: Applying Science Knowledge | Engineering is Elementary

    In this professional development video from Engineering is Elementary, teacher Jean Facchiano has her fourth grade students perform tests on models while controlling variables. The lesson shows students working on Performance Expectations in Engineering Design as well as Engineering Practices from the NGSS.

    Grades: 3-5,13+
  • Designing Parachutes: Beginning the Engineering Design Process | Engineering is Elementary

    In this professional development video from Engineering is Elementary, teacher Jean Facchiano has her fourth grade students start the design process to create parachutes that will carry a small load. The lesson shows students working on Performance Expectations and Disciplinary Core Ideas in Engineering Design from the NGSS.

    Grades: 3-5,13+
  • Designing Parachutes: Analyzing Data and Improving Design | Engineering is Elementary

    In this professional development video from Engineering is Elementary, teacher Jean Facchiano has her fourth grade students build and test their parachute designs. The lesson shows students working on Performance Expectations and Disciplinary Core Ideas in Engineering Design from the NGSS.

    Grades: 3-5,13+
  • Inspector Detector Challenge

    Kids design and build magnetic-field detectors and use them to find hidden magnets in this activity from Design Squad Nation. They also learn how NASA uses magnetometers to learn what is going on inside a planet or moon. People love treasure hunts. But, in this one, kids are looking for something invisible! As they build their mmagnetic detectors, the kids use the engineering design process, apply a variety of science concepts (e.g., force, magnetic fields, mapping), and learn how a planet's or moon's magnetic field gives NASA scientists insights into its structure and how it formed. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grades 3-8 students.

    Grades: 3-8,13+
  • Down to the Core Challenge

    Analyzing samples from a planet, moon, or asteroid helps scientists learn about its chemistry, geologic history, and potential to support past or present life. Nearly every NASA surface mission collects samples. In this video from Design Squad Nation, kids design and build coring devices that can poke into a potato "asteroid" and extract a core sample. The kids use the engineering design process, apply a variety of science concepts, and learn about NASA's exploration of the solar system.

    Grades: 3-8,13+
  • Columns: Finding the Strongest Shape

    The shapes of a structure and its parts are often as important as the materials those parts are made of. In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, members of the cast bend and fold sheets of paper to see which shape is strongest and can best support the weight of a heavy book. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grade K-8 students.

    Grades: K-8
  • Designing Electric Circuits: Door Alarm

    Electrical circuits are used in a wide variety of technological innovations, from television sets to windshield wipers, escalators to telephones. In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, cast members use electrical circuits to create door alarms out of a variety of materials. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grade 3-8 students.

    Grades: 3-8
  • Easy-Fit Design

    As part of her Massachusetts Institute of Technology undergraduate degree program in mechanical engineering, Chi-An Wang worked with New Balance, a major athletic shoe manufacturer, in the design and testing of a new running shoe for triathletes. The approach for solving this real-world problem exemplifies the importance of following each step of the engineering design process. In particular, it shows the value of research: learning what consumers really want, using surveys and testing. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grade 3-12 students.

    Grades: 3-12
  • Simple Solutions: The Engineering Design Process

    The most valuable contributions engineers make to humanity are probably not high-tech electronics, but, rather, they are simple and inexpensive solutions that make life better for large populations of people: inventions such as a cheap and easy-to-use water-testing devices. In this video, mechanical engineer Amy Smith explains the design process for an innovation that enables poor people in isolated villages to determine whether their water supplies are free of dangerous bacteria. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grade 3-12 students.

    Grades: 3-12
  • How Engineering Affects Your Life

    This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grade K-2 students.

    Grades: K-2,13+
  • NOVA scienceNOW: What Will the Future Be Like? | Wearable Robots

    Learn about in advances in powered exoskeletons—a kind of wearable robot—in this video adapted from NOVA scienceNOW. Correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue explores the development of sophisticated robots that can be integrated with the human body. The company Ekso Bionics created a robot, called Ekso, that can help paraplegics walk, and has also developed another exoskeleton, called HULC, which is designed to help people carry heavy loads. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grades 5-12 students.

    This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

    Grades: 6-12
  • ZOOM | Automatic Door Opener

    The engineering design process involves many steps. An engineer must not only be able to devise a solution to a problem but also be ready to test and evaluate that solution to reach the best result. To successfully complete the design process, an engineer must be able to identify design flaws and learn from his or her mistakes. In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, cast members create automatic door openers that enable them to open their bedroom doors as they recline on their beds.

    This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grades 3-8 students.

    Grades: 3-8

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