Saturday, October 22, 2011

Engineering Design Process Loop

All classes, except for Kindergarten, have now gone through lessons explaining the Engineering Design Process of Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, and Improve. Beginning this past week, all classes first through fifth grade will start a basic hands-on challenge helping them to deeper understand the Engineering Design Process concept. They have all had it explained to them, and have all been able to name the steps involved, but they need to be able to physically go through the process before such a concept begins to make sense to them. They will begin working in groups of four (or five, at the most) taking a simple item such as a straw, craft stick, or a spoon and designing a new item that is useful out of it. This week they were guided through the process of identifying the problem, and brainstorming (as a group) ideas of other uses for their selected item. Next week they will begin narrowing their list of ideas and choosing the best idea, then blueprinting their design and listing the materials needed to create their new item design. Some students are also learning other concepts along with the Engineering Design Process, such as working as part of a team, and that all students have value (or all ideas have value). This loop will carry them through the next couple of weeks. After this, we will begin our Simple Machines unit.

 Kindergarten is still exploring the Fall season, learning about how scientists make careful observations, using magnifying glasses, identifying and writing about different textures, and learning about realistic colors found in nature (coloring things as we really see them, as they really are, and not how we would like them colored with shades of blues, pinks, and purples). The students have also been learning about how life carries on as they have been finding pine cones and prickly seed pods of maple trees. They have seen how the seed pod exterior dries and opens to release hundreds of tiny maple tree seeds (usually all over our tables), and while using the magnifying glasses, been able to see their rougher shapes. They have been enjoying spending a few minutes of each lesson outside in the cooler fall air and finding colorful fall leaves and seed pods. As a teacher, I always enjoying watching their wonder and excitement as they explore the beauty in the fall colors.


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