Elementary teachers are under tremendous time pressure, especially with the current emphasis on preparing for standardized tests. Working through the four lessons in an Engineering is Elementary unit takes about six to ten hours of class time. When I facilitate EiE workshops, teachers often ask me: “Do I HAVE to teach all four lessons? What if I just skip to Lesson 4?" . . . which is the engineering design challenge, where kids design, build, and test a technology, such as a solar oven or water filter.
In our Teacher Educator Institutes, we ask participants to skip to Lesson 4 deliberately, as a learning experience. I recall one workshop where we started with Lesson 4 from our “Designing Submersibles” unit; the challenge is to make a model submersible from small plastic vials that contain sand, beads, or marbles.