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Engineering Habits of Mind | Thursday, May 11

Teaching Ethics: It's More Important Than Ever

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

As 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.

Engineering Habits of Mind | Monday, January 23

Assessing the Implications of Solutions is an Engineering Habit of Mind

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

As 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.

Engineering Habits of Mind | Tuesday, January 10

Systems Thinking is an Engineering Habit of Mind

The students in Jean Facchiano's fourth-grade class have spent the morning engineering their own models of permeable membranes, using ordinary kitchen supplies like sponges, coffee filters, and perforated aluminum foil. The goal is to design a system that lets water drip into a frog habitat, keeping the container slightly damp, not dry or flooded.

Each group of students has come up with their own unique system for controlling water flow into the habitat. Now, in the video below, the students present their results. It's not just a show-and-tell; it's a concise demonstration of elementary students starting to apply their systems-thinking skills.

Engineering Habits of Mind | Wednesday, November 9

Investigating Materials Properties is an Engineering Habit of Mind

We’ve told you about EiE’s engineering habits of mind—positive strategies for problem solving that help define success not only in engineering but also across the curriculum. At EiE, we believe that a well-designed engineering curriculum can help students develop as many as 16 unique engineering habits of mind. Investigating the properties and uses of materials is a habit of mind that is an essential foundation to engineering education—it allows students to make informed decisions as they plan, create, and improve their technologies.

Engineering Habits of Mind | Thursday, October 20

Learning from Failure

Failure is Not an Option is the title of Gene Kranz’s autobiography. The phrase expresses how Kranz, a NASA flight director, and his team approached problems of all kinds—most notably, how to get the Apollo 13 astronauts home safely after a disastrous explosion in the service module. When I was fresh out of school and working my first job, I had a coffee cup with this slogan. The idea is common in American culture: in the workplace, in relationships, in schools.

For the Apollo mission, a no-failure mindset was exactly what the team needed to find a solution, and fast. But framing success as the only option is a problem in schools, especially in the elementary classroom—and especially if classroom instruction is focused on getting the one right answer.

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