K-5th Grade Engineering
Music. Art. P.E. Library. A special entitled “Engineering” is unique on the elementary level. Engineering is a process of understanding, designing, and building informed by science and math. The skills that they learn and the stamina they build in my classroom are transferable to any profession they may choose in the future.
During the first week of the school year, I give all of the 1st - 5th grade students an interest survey. The open-ended drawing and writing prompt asks students: what they enjoyed about engineering last school year, what they want to create during engineering this year, and how or why that prototype would impact the world. I read each and every one of the nearly 700+ responses. I quantify the results, scan the exemplar student papers, and use the data to plan weekly instruction. During each 6-day rotation of classes, I anonymously share an exemplar interest survey at the start of the engineering experience. From water slides, to cars, to mazes, to suspension bridges, my instruction is relevant and culturally responsive. I am intentional about amplifying student voice and aligning their interests to the Nevada Academic content standards. All students appreciate the opportunity to feel seen, heard, and valued.
I use a mix of explicit instruction (with anchor charts and realia), read-alouds, and brief video clips (1 to 5 minutes in length) to introduce the design challenges and showcase a diverse mix of engineers in the field. My whole group teacher-led introduction is timed to take 10 minutes or less! I reserve the majority of the 50 minute class period for collaborative learning and hands-on design time. Engineers need to know how to ask questions, imagine solutions, draw plans, create prototypes, conduct tests, make improvements, and communicate the results. Teacher as facilitator, that’s my approach.