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Age Range: 11-14
Duration: 60 or more mins
  • D&T
  • Engineering

Engineering products

Look at the difference between smart and engineered materials

Our lesson plan on engineering products offers a focus on how materials have been specifically engineered to provide the necessary qualities and characteristics.

Learners will enjoy the challenge of investigating the differences between these two types of materials, understanding their properties, uses, and the process of their creation. It gives an opportunity for students to explore a range of engineered and smart materials, identifying why they are 'fit for purpose' and how they have been engineered to achieve their objectives.

This is one of a set of resources developed to support the teaching of the secondary national curriculum, particularly KS3. It has been designed to support the delivery of key topics within science and design and technology (DT).

Activity: Investigating the difference between smart and engineered materials

In this activity, students will work in pairs to research a specific engineered material. They are tasked with creating a fact sheet or PowerPoint presentation that includes the following information about their chosen material: its chemical, physical and mechanical properties, what it looks like visually and at a molecular level, what it was designed to do, how it is made, what it is made from, what it is used for, and whether it has evolved from its original intended function.

These projects can be used as a wall display or be presented to the rest of the class, promoting an interactive and collaborative learning environment.

The engineering context

Smart and engineered materials form the foundation of many products and structures that we use daily. By understanding how they are made, what they are used for, and how they can be manipulated, children can gain a deeper understanding of key engineering principles.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity, students will have a comprehensive understanding of how materials can be designed and made for specific characteristics and purposes. They will be able to identify the properties of materials required for a specific function and explore a range of engineered materials, understanding why and how they have been developed.

This activity will also enhance their research, presentation, and teamwork skills, making it a well-rounded educational experience.

Download our activity sheet and other teaching resources

The activity sheet includes teachers’ notes, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

You can download our step-by-step classroom lesson plan instructions below as well as a handout worksheet.

Please do share your highlights with us @IETeducation. 


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