Design Challenge Learning

Design Challenge Learning is a 21st-century learning style geared to challenge and innovate students through hands-on activities that foster skills in critical thinking and in solving real world problems.

The Tech, Museum of Innovation is a good resource for design challenge lessons that can be done in less than an hour, 1-2 hours, or over multiple sessions. Lessons are thorough and labeled by grade level.  From a teacher’s point of view, the opportunity to observe and question students through their challenge sheds new light on how students get more from a lesson by working together and thinking out loud.  Give it a try and see how your students do with the whole engineering process.

Engineer Girl Essay Contest

The 2017 Engineer Girl Essay Contest is now open until February 1, 2017 at 6pm. Students (both boys and girls) in grades 3-12 can submit an essay engineer-girlwith their engineering ideas for helping vulnerable and endangered animals.

To enter the contest:

  • Elementary School Students (grades 3-5); Essays must be 400 to 700 words.
    • Imagine that you are an engineer.  Identify an organization that might implement your proposed solution and write a letter to the leader of that organization.  In your letter, describe your proposed solution in detail, explain how it should be implemented, and discuss why it is important to implement. To strengthen your submission think of questions the leader may have about your solution, and attempt to answer them in your letter.
  • High School Students (grades 9-12); Essays must be 1000 to 1500 words.
    • Imagine that you are an engineer in an engineering firm poised to implement your proposed solution in a specific location and/or situation.  Write a proposal to the organization that would fund this project.   Describe the solution in detail and explain how and why it should be implemented.  Describe the expertise available at your imaginary firm and explain how any other groups might need to be involved in the design, manufacturing, and distribution processes.  Explain what has already been tried or is already known about this type of solution and what would be new or innovative.  Describe how you will test or anticipate failure for any new innovations to minimize risk. Describe exactly what this project would aim to achieve, and make a case for why the cost would be justified.

For more information, visit Engineer Girl.

Weekend STEM Project

Alexa is a 5th grade student who enjoys being creative. On Sunday, April 26, 2015, she was inspired to build a parlor for several of her “Littlest Pets” using wood scraps saved from her Gramma’s woodworking projects. Alexa used the following supplies:

  • wood scraps of all different sizes and types
  • wood glue
  • clamps
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • markers
  • scroll saw (with supervision)

Alexa started by gluing together a platform. She built a small wall for the sides and back before creating and designing her store front. As she grabbed pieces of scraps, you could see the wheels turning in her head. As her Gramma, I decided to take advantage of this opportunity and teach Alexa how to use a scroll saw. She became even more excited because now she could be a little more precise about the pieces she wanted to use. She glued, clamped, and sawed wood until her design finally took shape to what she had painted in her mind. While the main store was drying, Alexa created a road sign for her store and a crib for her smaller “Pets”. She was so proud of her creation and so was I. Her design is far better than what you can buy already built in the stores. 🙂

I asked Alexa if you she could tell me what the SCIENCE was in her project and she said it was in the structure. TECHNOLOGY was using the scroll saw, ENGINEERING was her putting it all together, and MATH came in to play when she measured and marked pieces of wood that needed cut. Click the images to see the detail in a larger view.  Way to go Alexa!  High Five!