It is Engineering Week!!!! February can be a pretty “long” teaching month, how about inserting some ideas from engineering week to motivate your students! This is a great time to do a hands-on collaborative project/activity that will broaden their understanding of science, mathematics, and engineering. I participated in an Engineering fellowship that gave me access to what engineers do and I discovered, engineers work as a part of a team to make a difference all over the world. They create things, help people, and explore new ideas. There is no one thing an engineer must be good at, they just need to be able to think about a problem and be willing to try.
Teams of students can be assigned the same roles that are in an engineers team. In a single project these roles can also be based on the students individual learning intelligence's to maximize collaboration. A Manager of the project would keep the team on time and collect materials, A designer could draw the ideas for the solution to the problem, A Producer could document the work of the team through pictures and video, and there should also be a Builder, Researcher, and Reporter for the team. A great source of rubrics for this “project based learning” is the Buck Institute for Education that has designed rubrics for every grade level.
Connecting a school project to a real world problem helps students learn how engineers solve problems to make a difference in the world.
Here are a few ideas to get started with:
- Students learn about heat transfer and the properties of materials, with different insulators and the Vernier Temperature probe. Try the “Baggie Mittens” or “Keepin it Cool!” experiments in the Logger LIte software program folder.
- Build an air powered car to learn about how moving air can transfer the energy to the wheels of a car. Students can come up with different designs and race them to see which design allows the car to move the farthest. Use the Go!Motion Vernier motion sensor to measure how far the cars move. The SOL’s for matter, Force and Motion, and Resources are covered in one activity that the students will remember.
- The Concord Consortium has many simulations and activities for engineering that incorporate the Vernier probeware available to teachers in New Kent. Bridges are important structures to our everyday lives. Students can design and build a bridge with file folders and use the Vernier force sensor to to find out how much force that bridge will be able to sustain. Invite a VDOT engineer to come in to talk to the class about the bridge reconstruction projects in the Richmond area.
- Water filtration is an important world health problem. One of the activities from the Discover E website details how students can design an efficient water filtration system. Practice the science investigation skills of observation, along with the math skill of measuring, using different soil types to learn which types of soils are best at filtering. Check out a video of engineers at work in the local area with The MathScience Innovation Center's engineering website. This site is designed as an Engineering resource for teachers in Richmond. Local teachers documented their field experiences with Engineers at a local water treatment plant.They create activities based on those experiences during the MSiC Engineering Fellowship program.
Students learn best by doing, consider incorporating an engineering activity from these resources.Here are a few that have not been mentioned before:
- A reource for teachers and “everyone passionate about getting children eager to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math” http://www.stem-works.com/
- “Providing standards-based engineering lessons and hands-on activities for use in science, engineering and math classrooms.”http://www.teachengineering.org/
- The Virginia’s Children’s Engineering Council has design brief’s for every grade level and a great convention in February. http://www.childrensengineering.org/index.php
There are great engineering apps that develop students critical thinking and problem solving skills: Tinkerbox, Amazing Alex, Algodo, Geared, and (of course) Minecraft.
This post would not be complete without mentioning the best activity ever: the USA Science and Engineering festival happening April 26th and 27th in Washington D.C. http://www.usasciencefestival.org/. This event brings together some very famous scientists and engineers in one place, on a weekend, really close to New Kent. There is no excuse not to go :)
I will see you there!