One of the core elements we consider when designing STEM activities for our learners is the Engineering Design Process, or EDP. The process is a set of steps that guide us - or any professional engineer, scientist or mathematician - through solving a problem. But what do each of the steps really mean?
Ask - It all starts with a question. But lifelong learners know that getting the solution you need starts with asking the right questions. Instead of “What’s the answer to…” questions, frame the ask as the beginning of a journey “How do we find…” instead.
Imagine - Brainstorming comes in handy for all kinds of problems. Are there multiple ways to approach the issue? Take a moment before committing to one course of action and examine how you’d like it all to come together - imagine what you’d like the solution to look like.
Plan - Once you’ve decided on your approach, plan the steps you’ll take to break down the process into smaller steps. A simple outline can mean the difference between success and oversights that needlessly complicate our experiments, so it’s best to start off on the right foot.
Create - Time to put our plans into action! Test your designs by building them and check your guesses with hands-on experimentation. Using available materials, students build and test prototypes to see if they work.
Improve - Observing the outcome of our tests is key to the whole process! How do we know when we’ve been successful? Is there something we can make better? Reflect on your test results and, as needed, repeat the process again!
You can watch videos that further break down the steps of the EDP and give examples of each step in action by clicking here, or you can download a free poster for your classroom by entering your email.
Do you use the Engineering Design Process in your classroom or at home with your learners? What have you observed? We’d love to hear what you think. Add your comments below!