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Bringing Engineering to Life in Middle School

Adding engineering into your middle school classroom is a great way to deepen your students’ learning and problem-solving skills. Take this self-guided tutorial and learn to identify common engineering myths, build your understanding of the engineering design process and how to apply it to hands-on activities, and get concrete steps you can use to easily integrate engineering. This training is offered at three grade bands: Elementary, Middle and High.

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Bringing Engineering to Life in Middle School

  1. 1. Bringing Engineering to Life in Middle School An online tutorial for middle school teachers 1
  2. 2. 2 SECTIONS OF THIS TUTORIAL 1. Why Teach Engineering? 2. Engineering Myths and Truths 3. The EDP (Engineering Design Process) 4. Classroom Connections 5. Engineering Suggestions
  3. 3.  You be a better teacher  Your students be better learners 3 ENGINEERING CAN HELP WHY TEACH ENGINEERING?
  4. 4. 4 Engineering takes advantage of children’s inherent interest in how things work and offers a practical, efficient way to teach STEM.
  5. 5. 5 Engineering often improves learning and student achievement in science and math. WHY TEACH ENGINEERING? Source: “Why Use Engineering in Education?” National Academy of Engineering
  6. 6. 6 Engineering “clarifies the relevance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to everyday life.” WHY TEACH ENGINEERING? Source: Next Generation Science Standards
  7. 7. WHY TEACH ENGINEERING? 7 The E in STEM pulls it all together.
  8. 8. 8 Doing engineering inspires a much broader range of students than you might expect to consider a STEM-based career. WHY TEACH ENGINEERING?
  9. 9. 9 Why should kids wait until high school to do what comes naturally to them now, when engineering can help them learn in so many ways?WHY TEACH ENGINEERING? WHY NOT?
  10. 10. 10 ENGINEERING MYTHS AND TRUTHS MYTH Engineers are guys in hard hats who do math problems all day.
  11. 11. ENGINEERING MYTHS AND TRUTHS 11 Engineers are diverse and come to the profession with a passion to solve real- world problems. TRUTH
  12. 12. 12 There are many stereotypes about engineering.
  13. 13. 13 Engineering Myths and Truths Engineering is basically the same thing as science, and you’re already teaching science. MYTH ENGINEERING MYTHS AND TRUTHS
  14. 14. 14 ENGINEERING MYTHS AND TRUTHS They are different and complementary:  Science answers questions through experimentation.  Engineering solves problems through design. TRUTH
  15. 15. 15 Science is familiar and you know how to teach it, but engineering is foreign territory. ENGINEERING MYTHS AND TRUTHS MYTH
  16. 16. 16 Science and engineering overlap. Examples of skills necessary to both:  Plan and carry out investigations.  Create models.  Construct and interpret graphs.  Evaluate competing design solutions. TRUTH ENGINEERING MYTHS AND TRUTHS
  17. 17. 17 Engineering is dry and pragmatic, focused on facts and numbers. It’s not imaginative or artistic. ENGINEERING MYTHS AND TRUTHS MYTH
  18. 18. 18 Engineers use their creativity and analytical skills to invent, design, and build things that matter. By finding imaginative and practical solutions, engineers are changing the world all the time.ENGINEERING MYTHS AND TRUTHS TRUTH
  19. 19. 19 Only certain kinds of kids are going to become engineers, and there aren’t that many of them. ENGINEERING MYTHS AND TRUTHS MYTH
  20. 20. 20 Exposing middle schoolers to the wide range of opportunities in engineering gets many of them really excited about becoming engineers. TRUTH ENGINEERING MYTHS AND TRUTHS
  21. 21. 21 You need a professional degree in math, technology, or physics in order to understand or teach engineering at the middle school level. ENGINEERING MYTHS AND TRUTHS MYTH
  22. 22. 22 No particular professional degree required—just curiosity from you and your students to explore how things work. ENGINEERING MYTHS AND TRUTHS TRUTH
  23. 23. 23 You also need to understand the Engineering Design Process, which you are about to learn. ENGINEERING MYTHS AND TRUTHS TRUTH
  24. 24. THE EDP 24 All engineers use the engineering design process (EDP).
  25. 25. 25 THE EDP What does the EDP look like in a middle school classroom?
  26. 26. BUILD A CANDY DISPENSER ACTIVITY Your Challenge Make a candy dispenser that gives out a little bit of candy at a time. Materials Include • Glue gun • X-ACTO knife • Pieces of candy • Paper plate • CD/DVD • Craft sticks • Tape
  27. 27. 27 THE EDP The Problem Make a dispenser that gives a little bit of candy at a time.
  28. 28. 28 THE EDP The Specs • Use at least 10 of the activity materials • The dispenser must dispense only a few pieces of candy at a time
  29. 29. 29 THE EDP Brainstorm • Examine materials • Discuss their uses, advantages, drawbacks • Explore potential solutions
  30. 30. 30 THE EDP Design • Choose one idea • Draw pictures • Discuss how it will work • Ask what might not work
  31. 31. 31 THE EDP Build • Designs will evolve • It’s a messy, loud stage • It’s worth it…it makes engineering come to life!
  32. 32. 32 THE EDP • Set up testing zone • Record results • Redesign to improve • Add requirements for kids who need more of a challenge Test, Improve, Redesign
  33. 33. 33 THE EDP Share It! • Students present their solutions • Discuss what worked, what didn’t • Say what they liked about each other’s designs
  34. 34. 34 Engineers move back and forth among these steps. They might share results at any point, for example, and use feedback to go back to brainstorming. THE EDP The Process
  35. 35. 35 Students will try to skip steps, like design, and go right to build. When planning, decide how much time students will spend on each step. You’ll also notice that some activities emphasize certain steps more than others. TIP THE EDP
  36. 36.  Engineering design process  Scientific inquiry  Project-based learning 36 CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS Three Teaching Methods
  37. 37. 37  Creativity  Communication  Critical Thinking  Collaboration Share Key Characteristics
  38. 38. 38 In all three approaches, the teacher becomes a guide and trouble shooter, rather than main conveyor of information. CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS STUDENTS LEARN BY DOING
  39. 39. 39 The second part of the formula is combining the messages with a hands–on activity Learning by doing helps students understand why failure is such an important part of the process.
  40. 40. 40 A great example of how PBL and EDP work together is Future City. CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS
  41. 41. 41 Students spend four months researching, designing, and building cities of the future.
  42. 42. 42 CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS • Storm water management • Waste management • Public spaces As students design their cities, they also explore an urban sustainability issue. Past examples include…
  43. 43. • Project plan • Virtual City • City Essay • City Model • City Presentation 43 Future City project deliverables: CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS
  44. 44. 44
  45. 45. • Reveal underlying technology • Reinforce science and math concepts • Motivate students: they’re fun! 45 CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS ENGINEERING ACTIVITIES
  46. 46. 46 CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS Deepen students’ exploration of topics that are already part of the curriculum. ENGINEERING ACTIVITIES
  47. 47. 47 DiscoverE Activity Classroom Topic Build an air-powered gondola Propulsion Make a water filtration system Clean water Design a spaceship Space exploration Make a glowing light stick Electrical circuits
  48. 48. 48 If you are doing a social studies unit on science, technology, and society, add a real-world engineering project. CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS ADD ENGINEERING
  49. 49. 49 CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS A local city planner or engineer to talk about planning a playground. Students may be surprised to hear how much thought goes into the design of a swing, slide, or other equipment. INVITE
  50. 50. 50 Next, do the DiscoverE marble run activity. CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS
  51. 51. MARBLE RUN ACTIVITY Your Challenge Create a track that keeps a marble rolling longer than any other team’s does. Materials Include • Stopwatch • Plastic cups • Marbles • Paper towel tubes • Masking tape
  52. 52. 52 Expand on what students learned by studying an actual roller coaster, preferably a local one. Or show them this next video… CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS
  53. 53. 53 Show students the Sum of All Thrills video about designing roller coasters.
  54. 54. 54 CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS Find activities at:
  55. 55. 55 ENGINEERING SUGGESTIONS Invite engineers to your classroom to talk to your students. IDEA 1
  56. 56. 56 ENGINEERING SUGGESTIONS  Local university  Local chapters of engineering societies  Local engineering companies FIND GUEST ENGINEERS
  57. 57. 57 Connect engineering to what matters to middle schoolers. For example, they can do the DiscoverE activity Design a Shoe, and then see a video about designing a skateboarding shoe. ENGINEERING SUGGESTIONS IDEA 2
  58. 58. 58 Show the Extreme Enough? Video.
  59. 59. 59 In your professional learning community or grade-level team, see where engineering could be added. ENGINEERING SUGGESTIONS IDEA 3
  60. 60. 60 Ask students to watch, listen, or read a news article about a problem in their community that engineers are solving. ENGINEERING SUGGESTIONS IDEA 4
  61. 61. 61 That’s it. You’re ready to bring engineering alive for your students. How are you going to begin?
  62. 62. Funding for this training was provided by: