The 12 lesson plans listed below require simple materials that you and your students may already have on hand. These lessons may work especially well for educators as part of remote learning strategies during school closures.

Lesson Plan Grade: 3rd
Rainstorms can be powerful! Can you guess how much water poured down during the last rainstorm you experienced? Do you know if a brief downpour yields more or less water compared to a daylong drizzle? In this hands-on weather lesson, students design, build and use their own rain gauge to get answers to all of these questions. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 3-ESS2-1. Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.
  • 3-ESS2-2. Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.
Lesson Plan Grade: 3rd
Help the budding meteorologists in your classroom learn how to measure wind speed by building their own anemometers (wind speed meters) with paper cups and straws. Then do a simple experiment in which students change the "wind" speed using a fan and measure how fast their anemometer spins. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 3-ESS2-1. Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.
Lesson Plan Grade: 3rd-5th
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Can your students lift a book off the floor with just one finger? Find out and learn about simple machines in this fun lesson plan about levers. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 3-5-ETS1-3. Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Lesson Plan Grade: 3rd-5th
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Are paper airplanes a nuisance in your classroom? They don't have to be! Those distractions can be a constructive learning opportunity: use them to teach your students about the engineering design process. In this fun lesson, you will be the "customer" ordering a paper airplane, and your student teams will be engineering companies that will manufacture planes. Before they start making planes, they need to define the criteria and constraints of this engineering problem. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 3-5-ETS1-1. Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Lesson Plan Grade: 3rd-8th
Coming up with new ideas is hard! How do engineers design new things or improve existing ones? Engineers and inventors use different brainstorming techniques to help them think outside the box and come up with new ideas. In this lesson plan, your students will practice brainstorming with a method called SCAMPER. Read more
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
People have used boats to transport things around the world for thousands of years. Unfortunately, those boats can be vulnerable to stormy seas and they can capsize. This lesson expands on the classic "aluminum foil boat" project. Normally, students would build a boat from a sheet of aluminum foil and see how much weight it can hold—in still water—before sinking. In this project, they will find out how well their boats hold up to waves! Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
  • MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
Aircraft carriers are much shorter than a typical airport runway. How do airplanes manage to gain enough speed for takeoff over such a short distance? A catapult gives them an extra boost! In this lesson, your students will practice engineering design as they build their own paper airplane launchers, while learning about kinetic and potential energy. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS3-2. Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.

  • MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
Combine Newton's third law of motion with engineering design in one fun lesson! Your students will learn about equal and opposite reaction forces as they design and build a bumper to protect a toy car during a crash. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS2-1. Apply Newton's Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.
  • MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
How is it possible that our eyes can see things that are not really there? In this fun lesson plan, your students will explore how our vision works with the help of two short experiments that involve some fascinating optical illusions. Let your students discuss why they see a hole in their hand, or why they see colors that were never there, and let them construct their own explanations. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-LS1-8. Gather and synthesize information that sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior or storage as memories.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
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Do you need a fun, easy way to teach your students about the scientific method? Try this lesson that uses rockets made from nothing but paper, tape, and straws. An elementary school version of this lesson plan is also available. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-Science Practices.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
What goes up, must come down in this thrill-seeking lesson plan! How much energy does a roller coaster car need to make it through a loop? In this lesson your students will learn about kinetic and potential energy as they build their own roller coasters from simple classroom materials. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS3-2. Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.
  • MS-PS3-5. Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
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Teach your students how to make plastic out of milk in this hands-on lesson plan! You will conduct a simple milk-transforming experiment to explore how plastics can be derived from a natural resource such as milk. Students will perform their own experiments and can even create a product from their resulting organic casein polymer. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS1-2. Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
  • MS-PS1-3. Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society.
Free science fair projects.