Weston Middle School

Technology/EngineeringCourse Materials

Weston, Massachusetts
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Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution. Include potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.*


Create visual representations of solutions to a design problem. Accurately interpret and apply scale and proportion to visual representations.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of visual representations can include sketches, scaled drawings, and orthographic projections. Examples of scale can include ’’ = 1’0’’, 1 cm = 1 m.]


Communicate a design solution to an intended user, including design features and limitations of the solution. [Clarification Statement: Examples of intended users can include students, parents, teachers, manufacturing personnel, engineers, and customers.]


Given a design task, select appropriate materials based on specific properties needed in the construction of a solution. [Clarification Statement: Examples of materials can include metals, plastics, wood, and ceramics.]


Choose and safely use appropriate measuring tools, hand tools, fasteners and common power tools used to construct a prototype.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of measuring tools include a tape measure, a meter stick, and a ruler. Examples of hand tools include a hammer, a screwdriver, a wrench and pliers. Examples of fasteners include nails, screws, nuts and bolts, staples, glue, and tape. Examples of common power tools include jig saw, drill, and sander.]


Evaluate competing solutions to a given design problem using a systematic process to determine how well each meets the criteria and constraints of the problem. Use a model of each solution to evaluate how variations in one or more design features, including size, shape, weight, or cost, may affect the function or effectiveness of the solution.*


Generate and analyze data from iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process to optimize the object, tool, or process for its intended purpose.*


Construct a prototype of a solution to a given design problem.*


Use the concept of systems engineering to: a. analyze how components of a transportation, structural or communication system work together or affect each other, and b. model the inputs, processes, outputs, and feedback of a technological system.

The Nature of Technology/Engineering

Technology/engineering seeks different ends from those of science. Engineering strives to design and manufacture useful devices or materials, defined as technologies, whose purpose is to increase our efficacy in the world and/or our enjoyment of it. Can openers are technology, as are microwave ovens, microchips, steam engines, camcorders, safety glass, zippers, polyurethane, the Golden Gate Bridge, much of Disney World, and the “Big Dig” in Boston.

Each of these, with innumerable other examples, emerges from the scientific knowledge, imagination, persistence, talent, and ingenuity of practitioners of technology/engineering. Each technology represents a designed solution, usually created in response to a specific practical problem, that applies scientific principles. As with science, direct engagement with the problem is central to defining and solving it.

The Relationship Between Science and Technology/Engineering

In spite of their different goals, science and technology have become closely, even inextricably, related in many fields. The instruments that scientists use, such as the microscope, balance, and chronometer, result from the application of technology/engineering. Scientific ideas, such as the laws of motion, the relationship between electricity and magnetism, the atomic model, and the model of DNA, have contributed to achievements in technology and engineering, such as improvement of the internal combustion engine, power transformers, nuclear power, and human gene therapy. The boundaries between science and technology/engineering blur together to extend knowledge.

Inquiry-Based Instruction

Engaging students in inquiry-based instruction is one way of developing conceptual understanding, content knowledge, and scientific skills. Scientific inquiry as a means to understand the natural and human-made worlds requires the application of content knowledge through the use of scientific skills. Students should have curricular opportunities to learn about and understand science and technology/engineering through participatory activities, particularly laboratory, fieldwork, and design challenges.

Inquiry, experimentation, and design should not be taught or tested as separate, stand-alone skills. Rather, opportunities for inquiry, experimentation, and design should arise within a well-planned curriculum. Instruction and assessment should include examples drawn from life science, physical science, earth and space science, and technology/engineering standards. Doing so will make clear to students that what is known does not stand separate from how it is known.

Asking Questions

Asking questions and pursuing answers are keys to learning in all academic disciplines. In the science classroom, one way students can do this is by exploring scientific phenomena in a classroom laboratory or an investigation around the school. Investigation and experimentation build essential scientific skills such as observing, measuring, replicating experiments, manipulating equipment, and collecting and reporting data. Students may choose what phenomenon to study or conduct investigations and experiments that are selected and guided by the teacher.

Students can also examine questions pursued by scientists in previous investigations of natural phenomena and processes, as reported or shown in textbooks, papers, videos, the Internet, and other media. These sources are valuable because they efficiently organize and highlight key concepts and supporting evidence that characterize the most important work in science. Such study can then be supported in the classroom by demonstrations, experiments, or simulations that deliberately manage features of a natural object or process. Whatever the instructional approach, science instruction should include both concrete and manipulable materials, along with explanatory diagrams and texts.


An inquiry-based approach to science education also engages students in hands-on investigations that allow them to draw upon their prior knowledge and build new understandings and skills. Hands-on experiences should always be purposeful activities that are consistent with current research on how people learn and that develop student understanding of science concepts. Students should also have multiple opportunities to share, present, review, and critique scientific information or findings with others.

Chris Rogers on Teaching Engineering


Current Curriculum FrameworksNGSS-Science and Engineering Practices

Massachusetts Draft Science Frameworks

Chris Rogers- Teaching Engineering with a Camera and a Brick or Two
Revised January 2015 by Jonathan Dietz, dietzj@weston.org