Engineering is all about problem-solving, like solving what kind of structure it would take to support a pumpkin with just a roll of cardboard and straws, or the best way to build a tower from just index cards or creating a tower from just apples using only toothpicks.
Across the district’s PAT, Promising Aptitudes and Tendencies, classes these past few weeks, first and second graders on campus and at home have been putting those problem-solving skills to the test, teacher Janyce Griffith said.
“Our engineering activities are designed to get the kiddos thinking creatively,” she said. “Through following the engineering design process, they are given the freedom/flexibility to create things by just being given supplies.”
The Engineering design process includes several steps: Identify the Problem, Investigate, Plan, Create, Test, and Communicate. Students are encouraged to follow the model as they try different ideas to find one that works. Most times, no two students' towers or structures look the same, but they all find a way to complete the task in their own way.
“With the index card tower, most students were not successful right away, but when they realized they could put a bend in the index card, they were able to build what their imaginations allowed them to,” Griffith said.
Which was pretty much the same process for the apple and pumpkin towers too, she said. Once students started working through their plans and testing models, they were able to connect what they'd learned from failed attempts to build something that worked.
“Perseverance and creativity being the goals of the activities, and the students enjoyed the challenge,” Griffith said. “They each got very excited when they finally mastered whichever project they were building.”