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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.

Engineering Habits of Mind | Thursday, May 11

Math Lessons Go Better With Engineering

The Common Core State Standards for math are pushing elementary educators to re-think how to teach math. How do you go beyond skills like adding and subtracting or the times tables to help kids develop a deep understanding of math concepts? Engineering activities are an ideal framework for meeting this challenge. 

Engineering Habits of Mind | Thursday, March 31

Join EiE at #NSTA2016 to Learn About "Engineering Habits of Mind"

Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Christine M. Cunningham, founder and director of Engineering is Elementary.

Not long ago, engineering was an academic subject mainly reserved for college students. But as states put new science standards in place, many elementary teachers face the expectation that their students must learn engineering concepts and skills. Can you really teach engineering to very young students? I’ve been working in the field of K-12 engineering for more than a decade; based on my own research and that of others, the answer is a resounding yes.  I’ll be talking about this today at 3:30 at the NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Nashville (Davidson A1, Music City Center). Here’s a sneak preview of my presentation.

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