Creating an Engineering Design Process for the Preschool Classroom

Posted by Cynthia Berger on 2/23/17 11:00 AM

EiE Play Dough
Engineering = hands-on play in a framework

Happy National Engineers Week! This week on the blog, we're celebrating by highlighting our favorite engineering tool: the Engineering Design Process!

When our son was three, he would spend hours playing with wooden blocks, making a highway for toy cars, a pen for toy animals, or just the highest tower he could stack. We didn’t think of it this way, but he was engineering.

Early childhood educators have always recognized how building with blocks (and similar hands-on activities) help children develop motor skills while at the same time exercising their creativity. But these activities can also be framed as authentic engineering. That’s something the EiE curriculum team is working on right now: a framework for preschool engineering.

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Topics: Early Childhood STEM Education

EiE Teacher Tip: How to Ask Good Questions!

Posted by Cynthia Berger on 2/21/17 11:00 AM

EIE 2015 JR_1062.jpgHappy National Engineers Week! This week on the blog, we're celebrating by highlighting our favorite engineering tool: the Engineering Design Process!

Imagine this scenario. Your students have worked carefully and enthusiastically to design a technology . . . only to discover that it doesn’t work as planned. When that sailboat doesn’t sail, or that model maglev train fails to levitate over the track, it’s a teachable moment. You want to be ready, not with answers, but with questions that help students do their own troubleshooting.

Education journalist Steven Hastings once calculated that a typical teacher asks 400 questions a day, or roughly one question a minute. That extrapolates to 70,000 questions a year, or 2 to 3 million questions over the course of a teaching career. But not all questions are created equal. Certain questioning strategies are particularly effective; here are four of our favorites.

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Topics: EiE Teaching Tips

Helping a Boy in Haiti: Engineering Makes Real-World Connections

Posted by Cynthia Berger on 2/16/17 11:00 AM

Presenting our EDP
California teacher Camie Walker has become an advocate for elementary engineering.

When Camie Walker chose an EiE activity for her fifth-grade classroom two years ago, she was thinking about how the lessons would complement her plans for English Language Arts instruction. She never expected that the real-world engineering design challenge would help her students become more resilient in the face of failure . . . or move them to meaningful social action on behalf of a young boy left destitute by a natural disaster.

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Topics: Implementing EiE

3 New Real-World Connections for Afterschool Engineering

Posted by Annie Whitehouse on 2/14/17 11:00 AM

young engineers testingHere at EiE, we’ve found that kids are most engaged with engineering when they’re working on problems that connect to their own lives. That’s why we designed our out-of-school-time curricula, Engineering Adventures and Engineering Everywhere, to guide them through the engineering design process as it applies to a real-world problem. We’ve already put together a list of additional real-world resources for each Engineering Adventures unit (Engineering Everywhere resources are under development!), but the EiE staff is always on the lookout for even more relevant content to help inspire your young engineers. Check out these compelling connections, share them with your kids, and show them that you can find engineering . . . everywhere!

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Topics: Out-of-School time

What Do You Learn at a Teacher Educator Institute?

Posted by Annie Whitehouse on 2/9/17 11:00 AM

Building a tower
Build your knowledge.

One of EiE’s crowning achievements is our Professional Development (PD) program. Elementary educators who come into our workshops knowing almost nothing about engineering leave feeling like EiE experts. But as much as our PD staff would love to show every single teacher the best practices to implement EiE, they can’t be everywhere at once. So when a district or school needs to prepare many teachers to implement EiE and provide the long-term support they know their teachers need, they send their professional development providers to one of our Teacher Educator Institutes.

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Topics: Professional Development

5 EiE Units for Budding Civil Engineers

Posted by Annie Whitehouse on 2/7/17 11:00 AM

budding-civil-engineer.jpgTeachers often tell us that kids gravitate towards engineering when they learn that engineers help people. EiE’s real-world connections are often focused on helping others, and our civil engineering units exemplify that. Civil engineering is an exciting field for kids to consider: they all have experience with buildings and infrastructure, and they may not be aware of the career opportunities available to civil engineers. As infrastructure in the United States ages, the need for skilled civil engineers increases—the US Department of Labor projects that the demand for civil engineers will increase 8% by 2024. These five in-school and out-of-school-time units could kick-start an interest in civil engineering for your kids, and show them how some innovative engineering can help countless people.

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Topics: EiE Resources for Teachers

Ask EiE: Can I Omit the Improve Step?

Posted by Cynthia Berger on 1/31/17 11:00 AM

Q: When my students work on an engineering design challenge, do they HAVE to do the "Improve" step? It takes extra time, and I feel like they've already learned what they need to know from their first designs.

A: Please don't skip the "Improve" step! That's when crucial learning happens.

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Topics: EiE Teaching Tips

Introducing the Getting Started Series!

Posted by Annie Whitehouse on 1/26/17 11:00 AM

behindthescenes.jpgWhen you first sit down with an EiE binder or materials kit, it can feel overwhelming. There are prep lessons, assessments, storybooks, diagrams, student journals, and a seemingly random assortment of craft materials—it’s easy to start jumping from item to item and get lost in the shuffle. We’ve heard that feedback before, and that’s why our video team set out to create a set of four short clips that help you dive in to our in-school curriculum. If you’re brand new to EiE, the 10 minutes you’ll spend watching this set of videos will save you tons of time in the long run. If you’re an EiE pro, you might learn something new . . . and they’re fun to watch, too!

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Topics: EiE Resources for Teachers

Assessing the Implications of Solutions is an Engineering Habit of Mind

Posted by Kate Sokol on 1/24/17 11:00 AM

Today’s guest blogger is Kate Sokol, a curriculum designer for EiE.

EIE 2015 JR_1105 resized.jpgAs a curriculum writer for Engineering is Elementary, I’m always thinking about developing activities that promote engineering habits of mind. Many habits of mind; like “collaboration,” “communication,” and “creativity”; naturally integrate with the type of hands-on engineering activities that we develop, and are often used to describe the work of engineers. Other habits, like the call for “ethical considerations,” require deliberate reflection to fully integrate into the K-8 classroom. The idea of ethics in engineering may seem like a daunting topic to navigate with students, but the power of critical thinking and the opportunity for students to consider the impact of their decisions has never been more important.

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Topics: Engineering Habits of Mind

Resources for Crosscurricular Integration

Posted by Annie Whitehouse on 1/19/17 11:00 AM

We’ve talked a lot about multi-subject integration this month. Our January 11th EiEXchange session explored what makes integration between STEM subjects meaningful, and our January 31st webinar will explore integrating English language arts and engineering. If you’re interested in learning more about crosscurricular integration, we have a plethora of resources available on our website and in our blog. Here are a few resources to help you integrate engineering into other subject areas.

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Topics: EiE Teaching Tips