This paper proposes that project-based active learning is a key part of engineering education at the middle school level. One project from a comprehensive middle school engineering curriculum developed by the authors is described to show how active learning and state frameworks can coexist. The theoretical basis for learning and assessment in a project-based curriculum is presented as a more favorable approach to teaching engineering in middle school. We address the unique issues of middle school students and how they engage the engineering process. We conclude that project-based active learning is integral in a successful engineering education program for middle school students.