I have noticed that many teachers want to plan engineering lessons in their classroom. I have some tips to hep get you started or to make your lessons more meaningful.
I was a third and fourth grade teacher for many years. I moved to fifth grade math and science at our middle school and spent three years focused on two content areas. This year I am now teaching engineering and technology. I have about 400 students and see my students every day for one trimester. My curriculum is based on 6 modules: Engineering 101, Material World, Do the Rot Thing, Innovations and Inventions, Love That Dirty Water, and Simple Machines/Chain Reactions. I have learned so much this year about engineering and technology. During the day, I have opportunity to reflect and improve my lessons as I teach them. My modules are in Google slides and include everything I need.
1. Engineering is science and includes standards. Think about STEAM as you plan. I planned my units around our fifth grade Massachusetts science curriculum and added in some math standards.
- What standards are you addressing?
- What do students need to research/learn about to be successful while going through the process?
- How can you make this challenge rigorous for all your learners?
2. Engineers work in groups. It is about collaboration. Students should not work by themselves or in large groups. Every child needs to participate.
- If possible plan 3's. Have students sit in triangles so they can talk and all see materials. When making decisions, there is never a tie.
3. Engineers solve problems and should be real world. Making connections.
- How is your lesson and activity connecting to the real world?
- How is this connected to other subjects and standards?
- Discuss different types of engineers and engineering.
4. Engineering includes discussion of clients, criteria and constraints.
- Who is the solution going to help?
- How can we test our designs?
- What materials, time, money, etc can be used?
5. Engineers persevere and make improvements.
- Students need to make improvements as they build and test
- Students give suggestions to other groups on how they can improve
- Students can reflect on how they can improve their designs in writing
6. Know the difference between a Warm-up and a Challenge!!!!
- A warm-up is something done to get students comfortable working in groups. It may be used to get them familiar with a material. These are popular at the beginning of the year or at the start of the lesson.
- I know that many teachers use tower challenges with all kinds of materials like spaghetti, blocks, cups, newspaper, etc. I start my term with a tower challenge that leads into structures and building building.
- Warm-ups are fun but should be meaningful.
- Challenges include the steps of the Engineering Design Process: problem, Research/Brainstorm, Build, Test, Improve, and Communicate.
- Challenges can be integrated into all subject areas.
7. Engineering is about the process. You are providing your students with 21st century skills that will help them in any career that they choose.
- Remind your students that failure is okay and that we persevere.
- Students are using critical thinking and creativity.
- Collaboration is key. Working our problems with a group.