Time is precious. So how do you make the most out of using engineering design challenges with your students?
First, let’s clarify what engineering design challenges are not. They are not arts and crafts, filler activities or “maker/tinker” activities. And, although they are designed to be fun, they are not play time for kids.
Done correctly, design challenges are powerful tools that help your students learn more, think more and grow more. They help your students deepen their thinking and become better critical thinkers and problem solvers so that they can meet their full potential.
So how do you leverage engineering design challenges? Use them to teach soft skills (yes, your kids need soft skills) that will help your students interact better with others, be better communicators, adapt to changing environments, and the list goes on.
Here are three ways you can help your students leverage the power of engineering design challenges:
Working as a team helps students show ownership and accountability for an engineering design challenge. In creating a development process and following the engineering design process, students develop a camaraderie and work together to solve the design problem and work towards a solution.
Engineering design challenges allows students to work in small teams (have you checked out our Role Cards?) and that helps less confident students more fully participate and share their ideas. They also help these students, and others, learn how to contribute ideas and support the ones they think will be the most viable solutions. In addition, it sets the stage and helps prepare students for potentially presenting their information to others.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love me some organization! Working engineering design challenges with your students encourages them to get organized. Teams must plan and gather materials, meet deadlines and follow the engineering design process (check out the EDP posters) to be successful. Plus, this skill will help kids in other areas of their life a well. And on that note, if you need help with classroom management as a whole, here are some ideas for managing the creative chaos.