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EiE Teaching Tips | Tuesday, May 23

"Can I Just Teach Lesson 4?" The Power of Scaffolded STEM Learning

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.

EiE Teaching Tips | Monday, May 8

You’ll Go Wild for These Four Animal-Themed Engineering Activities

At EiE, we’ve learned that the best way to get kids interested in engineering is to connect to a subject they care about. Every kid is different—some might be interested in transportation technologies, while others would rather learn about ice cream. But we know that many kids share a common interest: caring for and protecting animals. Engineering can play a big part in the care and keeping of animals, and we’ve seen how much that can motivate kids to design and improve technologies. In honor of National Pet Day, check out these storybooks and in- and out-of-school-time curriculum units, guaranteed to be a wild success in your classroom or OST program!

EiE Teaching Tips | Monday, September 18

EiE Teacher Tip: How to Ask Good Questions!

Happy 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.

EiE Teaching Tips | Tuesday, January 31

Ask EiE: Can I Omit the Improve Step?

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.

EiE Teaching Tips | Thursday, April 26

Resources for Crosscurricular Integration

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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