The Minnesota State Engineering Center of Excellence sponsors training for the Middle Grades STEM project-based curriculum by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), the nation’s largest school improvement network, virtual teacher training.

Training Highlights

  • Covers full curriculum for three student-centered projects.
  • Projects can be taught in virtual, hybrid, or in-person classroom settings.
  • Aligned to the National Science Standards, mathematical practices, and common core literacy standards.
  • Appropriate for 5th-9th grade.


Minnesota teachers attend intense Middle Grades Teacher Training Institute (TTI) to become prepared to use the student-centered approach to teaching SREB’s Middle Grades STEM projects. Previous training projects were:

  • Bridging the Gap,
  • Reverse Engineering, and
  • Coding for Fun.

Teachers are taught how to deliver these projects and trained to use the required technology and software to successfully complete student projects. Middle Grades STEM teachers are empowered to deliver the curriculum to students and have a co-hart of fellow teachers to support their efforts for the success of the students.

The trainings will cover the full curriculum for the projects. Each project consists of 35 blocks at 50 minute blocks.

Participants will be eligible for professional development contact hours!


WHO: 5th-9th Grade STEM Teachers in Minnesota
WHAT: Training on Middle Grades STEM Curriculum
WHEN: To inquire about upcoming trainings, email us at:
REQUIRED EQUIPMENT: See details below. All of the training equipment is required to have in place prior to the training. The equipment and consumables for this Teacher Training assumes the teachers in their local district will be under programmed instruction (in-person) together during the training.

EXAMPLE: List of Equipment and Consumables

The following lists are EXAMPLES of equipment and supplies based on 24 students.

General Middle Grades STEM

Bridging the Gap Project

Reverse Engineering Project

Coding for Fun Project

No equipment/supplies required.

Estimated Cost

For this three-project teacher training, estimated prices represent the current pricing for equipment, supplies, and consumables for a class of 24 students. For schoolwide implementation, Studica can assist in determining equipment and supply needs for various group sizes of students. For a 24 student classroom, the estimated equipment cost for the three projects is $950 and $25 per student for consumables. To save money, the list of equipment and consumables can be requested from Studica and any project-specific items can be purchased separately and/or components sourced yourself, however, Studica has created Sole Source Kits so all of the required materials can be purchased on a single Purchase Order simplifying the process.

To get a quote, purchase, and/or request a list of required equipment and consumables for the training and classrooms, contact:


To inquire about upcoming trainings, email us at:

Training Instructor

Leslie Eaves
Middle Grade STEM Program Director, Project-Based Learning (PBL)
Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)

Leslie Eaves leads the project-based learning program at SREB, where she designs professional learning experiences for teachers to implement PBL. She joined SREB in 2016, bringing more than 16 years of experience in the public education sector. She holds both a technology education and a 9-12 math license. Prior to SREB, Leslie taught high school engineering courses in North Carolina. She joined North Carolina New Schools in 2011 as a math content coach and a general instructional coach, where she implemented school-centered learning strategies and STEM practices. She later served as the school director of professional learning and led the design and facilitation of customized professional learning, project-based learning, Transformational Learning Communities, content networking, and design thinking. She received an Excellence in STEM Education award in 2009 from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

Leslie has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in engineering from the University of South Carolina. She lives in Mebane, North Carolina.

Previous Projects Covered in Training

Bridging the Gap

Essential Question: How do engineers use models to test bridge designs?

Your team is part of a civil engineering group. A new bike path is being constructed that needs a bridge to cross a stream. The bridge will be 60 feet long and 10 feet wide to accommodate two bicycle lanes as well as access for emergency vehicles. The bridge will span 45 feet and must be able to support the weight of the emergency vehicle.

Your team will research bridge types and discuss the load the bridge will need to support. You will use an engineering design process to design and build the bridge and construct a scale model. The prototype bridge must be built to the defined parameters using a specified list of materials and within a certain budget.

Essential Technical and Academic Learning Concepts

  • There are several basic categories of bridge designs: arch, suspension, truss, cable-stayed, cantilever, and beam.
  • Construction materials and other design choices present tradeoffs engineers must consider.
  • A force is a push or a pull and has both a magnitude and a direction.
  • Forces acting on the bridge structure must be measured to design, build, and test an adequate structure.
  • Engineers test models of planned structures to determine if they can withstand stress loads.
  • Ratios are relationships between two numbers.
  • A proportion is a statement of equality between two ratios.
  • Ratio and proportion are important in drawing/sketching when the drawing needs to be proportional to the actual object.
  • Ratio and proportion calculations are important in designing, building, and testing of a bridge.

Reverse Engineering

Essential Question: How can we redesign an existing molded product package into a package made from a single sheet of foldable material?

You are a packaging engineer on one of several teams within the research and development division of GeoDesign Inc., a company that designs and engineers environmentally friendly packaging products from compostable flat-stock materials. Regulations are being proposed in our area to restrict petroleum-based packaging products (such as those typically found in molded containers). GeoDesign is forecasting a growth in the demand for their foldable, paper products, and wants to demonstrate its ability to reverse engineer existing molded containers and create new designs using their foldable materials. Each GeoDesign research and development team will develop a prototype of a package, which will then be presented to potential clients affected by the regulation changes.

You and your team will use reverse engineering principles to document the current specifications and function of a molded packaging product. Your team will then redesign the package so that it can be made from foldable flatstock material. You will research reverse engineering, package design, and existing materials used in packaging design. You will produce scale drawings of both the foldable net and the assembled package. You will also develop a prototype of the final design.

Essential Technical and Academic Learning Concepts

  • Reverse engineering is the process of extracting knowledge or design information from anything man-made and reproducing it or something else based on the extracted information.
  • Documentation including sketches and drawings is an important part of the engineering design process.
  • Three-dimensional figures can be represented as mathematical nets made up of rectangles and triangles. These nets can be used to find the surface area of these figures.

Coding for Fun

Essential Question: How can we design, create, and test a basic computer game for a specific demographic group?

CodePoint, Inc. is a software development company that wants to develop a new line of fun and appealing games for middle grades students. These games should be relatively easy to play and technically sound. Players should not encounter any technical or game interpretation problems.

CodePoint has asked your team to research the factors/criteria that make games fun and appealing for middle grades students. You will use that information and what you learn about coding basics to design, create, and test a fun computer game using online game development software. You will also create a valid game evaluation instrument to be used with the students who play the game and methods for displaying the results.

Essential Technical and Academic Learning Concepts

  • Computer games are created using specific programming languages.
  • Surveys are used to gather information about participants’ opinions.
  • Surveys can be delivered using online survey tools.
  • Basic statistics can be used to evaluate the results of surveys.
  • A design process is used to organize and plan for programming work.