What is Engineering?

Lesson and STEM Challenge

Let me help you plan an awesome STEM lesson! Grab this free “What is engineering?” lesson plan and get ready for a fun and inspiring day of STEM!

STEM Lesson Plan and Activities

Need an easy introduction to STEM or a fun, low-prep lesson to keep your middle school students engaged? Use the “What is Engineering?” lesson plan and activities to teach your students about a new career path and the real-world problem-solving skills that will help them in STEM class and beyond!

First, students share their background knowledge about engineering. Then they engage in a hands-on engineering experience as they design, build, and test cell phone stands. Afterward, students reflect on their experience, identify misconceptions about engineering, and construct a deeper understanding of what engineers do. Next, students research the definition of engineering and discover a variety of engineering careers. Finally, students reflect on their learning and revise their definitions of engineering from the beginning of class.

Grab this lesson and STEM challenge today, so you can take a break from planning and inspire our next generation of engineers!

This middle school STEM resource Includes:

  • 2 versions of the student assignment, including a printable PDF and digital Google activities
  • Detailed teacher notes with suggestions for facilitation and differentiation
  • Guided student activities following a 5E lesson format
  • A hands-on STEM Challenge using household materials
  • Links to high-quality background research videos and websites
  • An answer key

Materials needed for the "What is Engineering?" lesson:

  • Printed or digital copies of the student project packet
  • The building materials for the cell phone stand STEM challenge are flexible! You can use whatever you have available, such as building bricks, index cards, straws, wooden craft sticks, tape, cardboard, etc.
  • Rulers
  • Student devices with internet for accessing background research activities

The engineering lesson is perfect for:

  • Introducing middle school students to STEM or engineering classes
  • Helping students discover real-world STEM professions
  • Discovering the engineering design process
  • A low-prep STEM sub plan
  • Celebrating National Engineers Week in February or National STEM Day in November
  • Inspiring future engineers