I’ve been spending more and more time in elementary classrooms supporting and facilitating engineering units. One of the design process models we often use is the Museum of Science’s “Engineering is Elementary” design process, which asks students to “Ask, Imagine, Plan, Build, and Create.”
A limitation of thinking our students (and teachers!) sometimes bump into is the diversity of what constitutes technology and engineering as a discipline. Ask a student to draw an engineer and they sketch a Bob-the-Builder or similar look alike. In reality engineers find solutions to environmental problems, software problems, infrastructure, electrical, aeronautical… the list goes on and on. Brick and mortar is just a small sliver of the tools and materials engineers use.
So it was with great pleasure that I recently read a reflection piece by Francis Wyman teacher, Shelagh Maiorana charging our curriculum council to approach our upcoming curriculum development with the same design process as the one we’ve been using time and time again with our student engineers. In her remarks, she implored teachers and curriculum developers to:
- Ask, “How can we best teach these topics?”
- Imagine what will engage, connect, enlighten students.
- Plan sequence of units and lessons that build understand.
- Create thinking, problem-solving students.
- Improve by analyzing data and reflecting on if/how students met the learning goal.
I couldn’t agree with her more and am excited to work with her and other teachers across the district. While our work this summer will never be “set in stone” like a road or bridge, it will certainly aim to chart a path toward a more scientific literate student body and success in our district moving forward.