career awareness

Career Awareness

Scroll through and select from multiple PEERS classroom activities, 2nd grade through high school
Engineering Opportunities
2nd Grade – Vermeer Corp

Overview/Objective: Introducing kids to ask question about how things work and answering those questions through hands on investigation.  While tying it to a career type like engineering, manufacturing, or other science related careers.

Required space/tools: desktops or table tops, an area where 3-4 kids can gather around to disassemble a small simple toy.

NGSS Standard this activity aligns with:

  • 2-PS1-2. Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.*
  • 2-PS1-3. Make observations to construct an evidence-based account of how an object made of a small set of pieces can be disassembled and made into a new object.

Time requirement: One class period, between 35-60 minutes.  The typical event take 45-50 minutes but can be adjusted slightly by allowing more time for discussions or questions or not.

Logic and Programming
6th grade – Vermeer Corp

Overview/Objective:  Introduce concepts of logical or sequenced base thinking, asking questions and using basic math principles to complete a specified task.

Required space/tools: Clear floor space of 10ft x 10ft for robot to roll around in.  Marker/chalk board is always helpful but not required.

Time requirement: One class period, between 45-60 minutes.  The typical event take 45-50 minutes.  Much shorter than 45 minutes and there’s not enough hands-on time for the kids.

Science of Sound and Color (Waves)
8th grade – 3M

Overview/Objective:  Show how sound is produced and what makes different things sound different, as well as how the science of sound can be used in various careers.

Required space/tools: A classroom, gym or lunchroom with white board/chalk board, projector with screen and source for water.

NGSS Standard this activity aligns with:

  • MS-PS4-1. Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave.
  • MS-PS4-2. Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials. 

Time requirement: 45-90 minutes

3rd, 7th or high school physical science – 3M

Overview/Objective:  Explore what sticks to magnets, observe magnetic fields, make a compass and see how it works.  Also see how electricity and magnetism are related, work with electromagnets and electric motors.

Required space/tools: Classroom, gym or lunchroom, white board/chalk board, tables or desks to set up four learning stations and a screen with projection.

NGSS Standard this activity aligns with:

3rd grade

  • 3-PS2-4. Define a simple design problem that can be solved by applying scientific ideas about magnets.*
  • 3-PS2-3. Ask questions to determine cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other

7th grade

  • MS-PS2-3: Ask questions about data to determine the factors that affect the strength of electric and magnetic forces 
  • MS-PS2-5: Conduct an investigation and evaluate the experimental design to provide evidence that fields exist between objects exerting forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact.

HS Physical Science

  • HS-PS2-5. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that an electric current can produce a magnetic field and that a changing magnetic field can produce an electric current
  • HS-PS3-5. Develop and use a model of two objects interacting through electric or magnetic fields to illustrate the forces between objects and the changes in energy of the objects due to the interaction.

Time requirement: 45-90 minutes

Mechanical and Stress Testing
6th grade – Pella Corp

Overview/Objective: Explain the engineering topics of stress, strength and strain, show the benefits of computer modeling, then verify model results with experimentation – all while having fun breaking windows.

Class required space/tools: Open area with space to project presentation, and two tables.  Safety glasses for everyone present, a projector and broom for clean-up.

NGSS Standard this activity aligns with:

  • MS PS 1-4.   Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed
  • 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.

Time requirement: 45-90 minutes

Engineering Opportunities
High school physical science – Vermeer Corp

Overview/Objective: Facilitate a discussion about career opportunities involving math, science, engineering, or technology, and possible continued education path within those careers.

Required space/tools: No items needed

Time requirement: One class period, between 35-60 minutes.  Time can be whatever the teacher desires, in dictates how many questions about careers, educations, and opportunity can be addressed.

4th grade or high school biology – 3M

Overview/Objective:  Explore the phases and effects of liquid nitrogen and the corresponding super cold temperatures on every-day objects.  Learn how it is used to process products such as frozen hamburgers.

Required space/tools: Classroom, gym or lunchroom, white board/chalk board, tables or desks to set up presentation station(s), water and a trash can.

NGSS Standard this activity aligns with:

  • 4-PS3-4. Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.

Time requirement: 45-90 minutes

Simple Machines
7th grade – Pella Corp

Overview/Objective: Provide interactive learning related to how simple machines work, and review career applications.

Required space/tools: 10’x10′ area for each of 3 stations, and a white board.

NGSS Standard this activity aligns with:

  • 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

Time requirement: 45-75 minutes

Waste Water Treatment
High school chemistry – Pella Corp

Overview/Objective: Teach about general waste water treatment and demonstrate the treatment of waste water.  Focus on acid/base chemistry and solids separation from solution.

Required space/tools: Chemistry lab to complete reactions in groups of 2-3, white/black board, space for doing chemical reactions, an electrical outlet and safety glasses for everyone present.  

NGSS Standard this activity aligns with:

  • HS-ESS2-5. Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes
  • HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.*
  • HS-ESS3-6. Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity

Time requirement: 45-90 minutes

Explore our virtual PEERS activities below.
A Sticky Problem: 
Engineering an Adhesive
5th Grade Science – 3M

Overview/Objective:  Students will analyze test results to determine the properties of adhesives, identify a problem and design a solution based on a given criteria.

Class required space/tools:
tongue depressor
dixie cups/wax paper (mixing bowl)
optional Newton scale
measuring spoons
binder clip or drill to make holes in tongue depressor

NGSS Standard this activity aligns with:

  • PS1.A – Structure and properties of matter
  • 3-5-ETS1-1 – Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on time and cost.
  • 3-5-ETS1-2 – Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • 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.

Time requirement:  5 class periods

Careers in Designing Solutions:
Forces and Weather
8th Grade Science – Pella

Overview/Objective:  The student is expected to apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.  Students will use a model to demonstrate how forces in a collision are equal and opposite between colliding objects.  Students will use a model to explain conservation of momentum and predict what happens in a collision.

Class required space/tools:  Accompanying videos/slides

NGSS Standard this activity aligns with: MS-PS 2-1, HS-PS 2-2, HS-PS 2-3

Time requirement: Roughly 2 class periods (40 minutes)

Engineering Problem Solving
9th Grade Math, Science, Engineering – Vermeer


  1. Provide real world example of solving an engineering problem, while understanding and considering the constraints and requirements around finding and implementing a solution
  2. A three-part video series introduces students to a potential machine issue that a design engineer may find. Part I introduces the problem and asks for potential solutions. Part II introduces potential solutions to the problem and asks the students which would be ideal. Part III discusses factors that limit your ability to select the ideal solution. An additional worksheet adds context, constraints, and other limiting factors and asks students to analyze the best available solution, given the constraints.

Class required space/tools: 
3-part video series
Student Worksheet
Calculators (suggested, not required)

NGSS Standard this activity aligns with: HS PS2-3, HS ETS1-2, and HS ETS1-3

Time requirement: 3-4 class periods

The PEERS Program is designed to promote interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) among local students through participation in classroom activities facilitated by career experts at PEERS partner companies. Through student participation in classroom activities, we aim to increase the number of students in STEM-related work-based learning programs and degree pathways in Iowa, thereby expanding the group of STEM talent prepared for full-time hire by regional employers.

The PEERS Program serves the schools shown in map.