This is such a great question and so important to teach our students. we know if they are not interested they are not going to learn. We want active participants but also not to just teach to be teaching but we want to enrich the lives of those kids who are coming into our classroom. This is what I love most about the NGSS. It is designed with the idea of actively engaging students. There are many strategies that are about getting kids to be engaged in the class and I also agree with other people in saying that you have to provide a 'why'. Students want to know why what they are learning matters. Also, they want to learn something that peaks their curiosity, which leads to how we choose the right phenomena in the classroom. We want to be purposeful in the phenomena we select as they can real our kids in and keep their interest as they are moving through a unit.
NSTA has so many amazing resources related to phenomena in the classroom. I would suggest checking out this Journal Article Teacher to Teacher: Phonemenal Engagement; which talks about using phenomena to engage students. Also, there is a great web seminar by two amazing people who talk about choosing phenomena which is also available for you to check out. It is called How Do I Select Phenomena to Motivate Student Sense Making; this is an archived webinar on March 15, 2017. These may be some great places for you to tap into and get some good ideas on how to engage your students in your science lessons.
I would love to hear back from you and how you are moving on your journey for student engagement.