teaching teachers to teach engineering

Learn how science and engineering differ (video 5:31) —AND how they connect—in elementary school classrooms

Why K-12 Engineering? – to become aware of the human-made world around us. Developing engineering habits of mind helps all people imagine themselves as shaping the future – developing skills to address real-world challenges and creating things for the benefit of humanity and our planet. Engineering is the integration of multiple subjects, and introduces relevant and fulfilling science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) futures.

You don’t have to be an engineer to teach engineering concepts and practices. You already know most of this. You just didn’t know that is engineering!

Scientific Method gets most of the attention. However, the Scientific Method imposes limitations for critical thinking and problem solving. No room for creativity or innovation, one right answer, Mother Nature already made all the important decisions,… In this video, Scientific Method versus Engineering Design highlights engineering design process and shows that this process is an approximation of the steps followed for preparing a lesson plan. Most teachers are surprised to learn that they use the Engineering Design Process themselves all the time.

Chris Rogers, Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach in the video LEGO Engineering: From Kindergarten to College, a Google TECH Talk video from 2008, highlights their work with teachers, and talks about some of the ways they help teachers overcome the barriers to including engineering in their curriculum.

  • girls really like to work with their friends in a social environment
  • actually see forces, concepts at work, and then willing / able to appreciate the theory

Here are some suggestions for engineering topics and activities to add to other teaching and learning experiences. Engineering4Kids stories are written for middlers (grades 5-8), and intended for self-directed inquiry and discovery. We hope that the stories are useful resources for educators as well.

  • important skills – imagination, curiosity, self-awareness, perseverance, courage, adaptability, and passion
  • Problem Based Learning, Inquiry-Based Learning, Design based learning, Curiosity based learning, student-directed learning, teacher as “guide on the side”
  • [/Simple%20Machines Simple Machines] – inclined plane, gears – these are the basic concepts and devices used in everything mechanical
  • [/Show%20and%20Tell Show and Tell] – examples, resources – you aren’t done until you can show it and explain it to someone else, preferably someone who needs it. There are many ways to do this so here are some suggestions. Learn these skills and practice this too – specific deliverables and tools to use to help communicate ideas and solutions
  • [/Visualization%20and%20spatial%20reasoning Visualization and spatial reasoning] – visualization in 3 dimensions from a 2 dimensional drawing – learnable, needs practice – isometric applications (sketching, axes, coded plans), orthographic applications (projection, sketching, orthographic to isometric transformations), flat patterns and developments, and rotation of objects.
  • [/Engineering%20Design%20Process Engineering Design Process]
  • Applied Math & Science – integrating an engineering component into math and science units helps students find a context for the theoretical – milk carton habitat (ecology),

Help may be nearby. Engineering students at many colleges participate K-12 outreach programs modeled after Tuft’s STOMP program. Teacher resources

  • great motivator for kids having college students work with them
  • service learning for engineering students
  • partnerships with business, in some cases
  • helps engineering students better understand engineering through teaching

Inquiry-Based Learning / Problem-Based Learning / Design-Based Learning
Questions that ask “What if…”, “How?”, “Why?”

  • Inquiry Learning Vs. Standardized Content: Can They Coexist?
  • Inquiry-Based – video
  • What is Project Based Learning?, The 8 Elements Project-Based Learning Must Have – 21st Century skills and competencies (collaboration, communication, critical thinking)
  • Also see…* [/Asking%20Questions%20and%20Defining%20Problems Asking Questions and Defining Problems]
  • [/Digital%20Learning%20Literacies Digital Learning Literacies] – [/Problem%20solving Problem solving], study skills, other STEM resources
  • Personal Learning Network (PLN), community of practice
  • Professional Development – Hybrid, MOOC
  • Why K-12 Engineering? – to become aware of the human-made world around us. Developing engineering habits of mind helps all people imagine themselves as shaping the future – developing skills to address real-world challenges and creating things for the benefit of humanity and our planet. Engineering is the integration of multiple subjects, and introduces relevant and fulfilling science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) futures.
  • PBL checklist – pick outline, select specific criteria > printable PBL checklist

Scratch and design-based learning

  • Scratch – Program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community. Think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.
  • Scratch Curriculum Guide – Design-based learning is an approach that emphasizes designing (creating things, not just using or interacting with things), personalizing (creating things that are personally meaningful and relevant), collaborating (working with others on creations), and reflecting (reviewing and rethinking one’s creative practices). As such, a design-based approach to learning is particularly well suited to creative computing, and forms the basis for the design of each session described in the Scratch Curriculum Guide.

Learn more…

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