engineering in k-8

There are plenty of online resources for teaching engineering in K-8. There are lesson plans, hands-on activities, online games and simulations. Yes, there are apps for that too.

Rather than teach engineering as a separate subject, integrate engineering as applications into science and math.

  • for each curriculum standard, provide weekly updates with factoids, lessons, videos, animations, interviews with engineers in the field.
  • include an engineering component or option in learner-directed activities
  • explore engineering in social studies – engineering is solving problems of society
  • provide suggestions, links, reviews of curriculum-relevant activities – newsletter, searchable repository

Hands-on projects

Engineers like to learn by doing. Each of the Engineering4Kids stories includes an engineering problem  to introduce engineering ideas, concepts associated with real world problems or needs. There are solutions for many but because of the nature of the problem and the solution, there could have been many different “answers.” This is Engineering. At some point someone has to decide that a proposed solution is “perfect enough” and that’s what gets done.

Your challenge is to review these engineering stories, re-examine the problem or need, and work through the “Engineering Design Process” yourself. We provided some ideas and resources. In some cases, we help by providing some details or questions. We would love to get your feedback on the challenges themselves. But more importantly, we hope that you will share your solutions with us and the rest of the world – create your own Show and Tell. Send us a link and we will added it to the story.

Ask Questions

What is one essential skill that can facilitate all learning? What can we do in order to learn more, produce new ideas and generate creative solutions? We should ask questions. [1]

Learning by asking questions, also know as the Question Formulation Technique is a great addition to the Engineering Design Process. The folks at the Right Question Institute use it to help people all over the world solve problems in education, healthcare, voter education to come up with innovative workable solutions.

Design Challenge : Formulate the questions first

By starting with the Question Focus statement and some basic rules for generating questions, you can learn a lot about the problem by asking questions. Any questions! The more questions, the better. Now, roll that into the Engineering Design Process, and look at your questions. What would be better questions? Which are the most important questions? What action can be taken to answer some of the important priority questions? What did you learn in this process?

  • What? (Ask questions, understand the need, identify the problem)
    The Question Focus is a statement about the challenge. The Rules for Producing Questions are part of this strategy for learning and problem solving. Ask as many questions as you can. Do not stop to discuss, judge or answer the questions. Write down every question exactly as it is stated. Change any statement into a question. This process will take some practice.
  • So What? (Imagine, brainstorm, explore)
    Following the Rules for Producing Questions, ask questions, lots of them. Just write them down without discussion or solutions. Everything you record should be a question, so change any statements into questions.
  • Now what? (Plan, design)
    Categorize questions listed as closed-ended (Yes or No answer), or open-ended. Discuss the questions and switch some from one type to the other. Prioritize the questions. To design your solution, some questions need to be answered to get going toward your solution. Start by picking 3. Think about how you picked the highest priority questions. If you can, discuss your questions and choices with others.
  • Do It (Create, try it out)
    Based on your questions and your priorities, these are your next steps. This will get you started.
  • If this then what? (Improve, make it better)
    Reflection – think about your questions. What did you learn from this?

Engineering vocabulary, concepts
Question Formulation Technique

Show and Tell
Now it is your turn. Here are some challenges for you to work on…

  • create a Question Focus statement for the challenge you are going to work on. This could be a picture, diagram or video.
  • make lists of questions, open- and closed- question categories, prioritized questions, and notes about the prioritization process

Learn more…

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