This is a work in progress, but we think it is a reasonable way to go. Think Wikipedia meets Boys Life – lots of stories about people, places and things, with ties to engineering principles, design and processes, through images, video, text, questions and suggested activities.
Lots of stubs, tons of ideas. The stories all follow a simplified engineering design process – Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve, and include links to the engineering concepts and vocabulary. Ideally, each story has pictures, diagrams and video, along with the text in this basic format. Each story includes Learn more… – links to background information, related concepts and/or more details. These are not lesson plans. The stories are for kids to read and think about.
It is the connection to engineering that is really important, but hardest to do. We want to relate these stories to the basic engineering course content – Statics, Dynamics, … Starting with the engineering course outline, we would like to create stories with examples of topic. Lots of work to do here, in part because the engineering textbooks don’t include many examples that Middlers understand.
What will be a “need” in the near future – expertise to make the connections between the course topics, engineering knowledge and examples of stuff.
In one of the intro to engineering textbooks, there is a nice article on the trebuchet that talked about fulcrum and beam. For the middle school kids, we need to make specific connections back to levers and simple machines. This becomes more challenging when we move along to stone arches and rockets or working from concepts like heat transfer and fluid dynamics.
Getting together initially and periodically is always helpful and interesting. We would like to have a show & tell exhibit with activities to take to schools and events like the Balloon & Sky Fest. Hands-on activities development will depend on the availability of the middle school kids and your folks. The online portion – Wikispaces is a wiki so contributors can work anytime anywhere.