Any teacher will tell you that getting students to work together effectively in teams is not easy. Simply telling students to work together won’t lead to productive collaboration. The term “collaboration” has many definitions, but most writers agree it’s more than just working in a group. Collaboration is the act of engaging in creative group work that sparks innovation and productivity. To accomplish this, teachers need to model productive collaboration and give students authentic opportunities to collaborate. Of course, this is always easier said than done. Because EiE values collaboration and views collaboration as an essential part of engineering (and of life), we developed curricula that models for teachers easy and effective ways to encourage productive collaboration.
Teachers often tell us that kids gravitate towards engineering when they learn how 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.
At EiE, we know that kids who develop engineering habits of mind see themselves as engineers. One of the most powerful ways you can help kids envision themselves as engineers is to present them with role models that they can identify with. It’s why our storybooks feature diverse characters from all over the globe. We believe that incorporating historical and cultural connections into engineering is a great way to make lessons relevant to kids in the classroom. If you’re an educator trying to help kids see themselves as engineers, consider taking some time this February, Black History Month, to introduce your kids to a few prominent black engineers who made important contributions to the field.
It has been an eventful year for EiE, and we’re showing no signs of slowing down! When we weren’t busy presenting at conferences, delivering PD across the country and internationally, pilot testing, and compiling results from our E4 study, we spent our time developing new OST units, Pre-K and Kindergarten curricula, and online professional development resources. In case you missed it, here’s a peek at all of the exciting things we’ve been working on this year!