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Middle Level Technology Curriculum

Middle Level Technology

Middle Level Student Success in Technology

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3-week unit


Introduce students to experimenting with variables and finding velocity with this unit on air-powered rockets. In the first section, students build simple straw rockets and test how different rocket lengths and launch angles affect flight. Students record the resulting data and use it to calculate velocity. In the second part, the class turns to rockets launched by the powerful AP Launcher. These tube rockets are ideal for outdoor or gymnasium launches that help students explore fin placement and design their own rockets. Finally, they build and launch rocket-boosted gliders.


The Varying Launch Angles activity delves into the effect of launch angles on the flight of straw rockets. After building a basic rocket, students complete two launches at a given launch angle and repeat this process while increasing the angle in increments of 15 degrees. As they work, students measure and record each launch’s flight time and range. After completing the launches, the data collected is evaluated to learn about the connection between launch angle and rocket performance.

  • Straw Rocket Launcher
  • AP Rocket Launcher
  • Tire pump
  • Various small supplies such as glue and tape
  • Assorted kits and materials
  • Straw Rockets Teacher’s Guide
  • Basic Rockets Course Guide
  • AP Rocket and Glider Video
  • Straw Rocket Video
  • Air Rockets Scope & Sequence
  • Scissors
  • Calculator
  • Digital scale
  • Stopwatch
  • Tape measure
  • Safety glasses


In Alternative Energy, students explore the basic concepts of energy as well as the law of conservation of energy. Information is presented about renewable and nonrenewable energy sources and how these resource types are important for meeting global energy demands. The advantages and disadvantages of alternative energy forms such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and hydropower are presented. Hands-on experiences include experiments with a wind turbine, solar cells, and hydrogen fuel cells.


  • Learn the characteristics of renewable and nonrenewable energy resources.
  • Explore traditional and nontraditional, or alternative, forms of energy.
  • Gain an understanding of the scientific law of conservation of energy.
  • Learn about the use of wind energy and perform an efficiency experiment using a wind turbine.
  • Learn the important role the Sun plays in the production of energy on Earth.
  • Explore hydropower and geothermal power.
  • Complete a fermentation experiment to explore biomass energy.
  • Perform an experiment to simulate hydrogen fuel cell technology.
  • Evaluate various energy resources and draw conclusions based upon statistical data.
Students complete three performance assessments: 1) Energy – investigate various energy resources and their classifications; 2) Solar Energy – name characteristics of solar energy and explain how a solar cell works; and 3) Fuel Cell Energy – understand and explain how fuel cell technology functions.


In Aquaculture, students learn fish biology, care, and management by maintaining their own goldfish tank. After an introduction to the history of aquaculture, they conduct chemical tests of tank water, learn fish anatomy and metabolism, calculate fish growth and productivity, and maintain records of their activities. Along the way, they learn the processes involved in a large-scale aquaculture operation and consider environmental impacts of aquaculture.


  • Use a spreadsheet to practice record keeping for an aquaculture operation.
  • Conduct tests of tank water and learn appropriate levels for each chemical.
  • Identify internal and external structures of fish.
  • Understand fish life cycles and measure fish length and weight.
  • Analyze fish growth curves and calculate appropriate stocking rates.
  • Explore fish metabolic rates and calculate nutritional needs and productivity.
  • Explore environmental impacts of aquaculture.
  • Graph and analyze data from the classroom aquaculture tank.

Students complete three performance assessments: 1) Water Chemistry – conduct water chemistry tests, define and explain expected values, and understand tank filtration; 2) Fish Biology – identify fish structures and properly manipulate live fish, including taking length and volume measurements; and 3) Fish Productivity – measure gill-opening rates, understand metabolism, and complete productivity calculations.


In Astronomy, students learn about the solar system and their relationship to it from a mathematical perspective. They investigate the Sun-Moon-Earth system and the characteristics, sizes, and distances of planets in the solar system. They construct a small refracting telescope and learn how it functions. They explore gravity and orbits, distinguish between weight and mass, and relate the kinetic energy equation to crater impacts.


  • Use a planetarium model to investigate Sun-Moon-Earth movements.
  • Relate gravity to orbits and distinguish between circular and elliptical orbits.
  • Distinguish between weight and mass.
  • Use the equation F = ma to calculate force, given mass.
  • Learn the characteristics of the Sun and planets.
  • Develop scale models comparing sizes and distances in the solar system.
  • Explain the differences between reflecting and refracting optical telescopes and calculate magnification.
  • Understand the kinetic energy equation KE = 1/2 mv² and relate it to crater impacts.
  • Express solar system distances in scientific notation.

Students complete three performance assessments: 1) Planetary Motions – use the planetarium model to explain Earth’s rotation and revolution, day-night cycles, seasons, and tides; 2) Planetary Distance – develop a scale model of solar system distances and calculate distances using both scientific notation and astronomical units; and 3) Telescopes – identify the parts of a refracting telescope, explain functions of its lenses, define focal length, and explain its relationship to magnification.



Three-week unit


By combining geometry, material science, and graphic design, Basic Structures delivers great learning potential. After building structures from straws and pipe cleaners, students compare the strengths of three different polyhedrons and then calculate the efficiency of each. Then, they are challenged to construct the tallest self-supporting straw tower possible. In the second part of the unit, students enter the world of package design to create a telescoping box with a tessellation design. Then, they test the strength of different bonding materials used in packaging and design and build a box to hold a specific volume.


This unit begins with the Comparing Strength of Polyhedrons activity. First, students learn about static forces and geometric figures in order to develop a hypothesis about which geometric figure is the strongest.

Using pipe cleaners and straws, they build three polyhedrons: a cube, rectangular prism, and triangular prism. The strength of each polyhedron is tested with hanging weights that are progressively increased until the figure can no longer hold the weight. Then, students evaluate the results and compare them to their original hypotheses.

  • Super Boxmaker
  • Spring scales
  • Various small tools such as triangles, glue, tape, binder clips, and string
  • Assorted kits and materials
  • Straw Structures Teacher’s Guide
  • Packaging Design Teacher’s Guide
  • Dr. Zoon Straw Structures Video
  • Dr. Zoon Packaging Design Video
  • Basic Structures Scope & Sequence
  • Hooked weight set
  • Digital scale and spring scales
  • Calculator
  • Cool-melt glue gun, non-slip ruler, and scissors
  • Stapler
  • Safety glasses


In BioEngineering, students explore topics related to kinesiology and sports performance. They cover mathematical concepts including measuring and classifying angles, absolute values, positive and negative rational numbers, data collection, and simple algebra. Students perform flexibility tests, take digital images of the tests, and use the computer to analyze their flexibility.


  • Practice absolute value, number lines, and positive and negative numbers.
  • Measure, classify, and identify angles using a protractor, a goniometer, a digital camera, and imaging software.
  • Gather, graph, and interpret data on projectiles, relating angle size to distance achieved.
  • Relate angle measurement to physical therapy, physical fitness, and sports performance.


Students complete three performance assessments: 1) Projectile Data – estimate and justify the best angle from which to release a projectile in order to achieve a maximum distance; 2) Measure Body Angles – demonstrate and explain how to measure a joint angle using both a goniometer and a protractor; and 3) Angle Analysis – explain how angles apply to the function of the flexibility tester and identify the angle of joint ROM required in order to achieve maximum reach.


In Biotechnology, students explore the past, present, and future of biotechnology. Through hands-on activities, computer simulations, and laboratory experiments, they investigate the structure of the DNA molecule and learn how it can be changed through genetic engineering, including recombinant DNA, gene splicing, and transgenic biotechnology. They consider some implications of using biotechnology in medicine, agriculture, and other fields.


  • Define terms relating to genetics and biotechnology.
  • Identify important historical events in the development of biotechnology.
  • Construct and explain a model of a DNA molecule.
  • Use pop-bead models to illustrate the processes of gene splicing and recombinant DNA.
  • Complete a DNA extraction.
  • Complete an enzyme experiment and analyze data from the experiment.
  • Use multimedia and simulations to understand transgenic biotechnology.
  • Learn about important applications of biotechnology in medicine and agriculture.
  • Consider ethical problems related to biotechnology.

Students complete three performance assessments: 1) Biotechnology and DNA – define biotechnology, explain areas in which biotechnology is used, and explain the structure of DNA; 2) Gene Splicing – use models to demonstrate and explain the structure of DNA and the process of gene splicing; and 3) Data Analysis – document experimental data, explain differences between experimental and control groups, and explain why careful analysis of any type of genetic engineering is mandatory.


Three-week unit


Bridge the gap between construction and engineering with this unit. Students start by constructing toothpick bridges and testing them to the point of destruction. Then, they use this data to calculate each bridge’s efficiency. Moving on to the more detailed balsa bridge construction, students learn about material strength. As the culminating activity, students design and build a bridge to strict specifications with the goal of holding the maximum load possible.


Following the unit’s coverage of bridge construction and building a model toothpick bridge, the Calculating Efficiency activity focuses on determining the efficiency of the completed bridge.

Using these bridges, students weigh them and then perform a destructive test on them, noting how much test weight broke each bridge. They use basic math skills to calculate the efficiency of each bridge based on its weight and the weight it was able to hold.

  • Toothpick Bridge Tester
  • Pulley Bulley Bridge Tester
  • Timber Cutter
  • Timber Tester
  • Health O Meter Scale
  • Various small tools
  • Assorted kits and materials
  • Toothpick Bridges Teacher’s Guide
  • Balsa Bridges Teacher’s Guide
  • Building Toothpick Bridges book
  • Dr. Zoon Toothpick Bridges Video
  • Dr. Zoon Bridge Building Video
  • Bridges Scope & Sequence
  • Digital scale
  • Calculator
  • Ruler
  • Safety glasses