Engineering

THE E IN STEM IS FOR ENGINEERING

Introducing children to engineering at pre-school and elementary school brings a host of benefits.  Engineering “allows for all kinds of learning to shine.

We at STEMSSA believe that it is important to attract potential engineers before they get distracted by other activities in life that may jeopardise the development of their engineering skills.  We believe in getting them to think like engineers using the curriculum at an early stage.

Initial findings from the first study of how well the curriculum works show that students taught with Engineering at elementary stage learn both science and engineering better than those taught the same subjects without engineering.

It has been found by the Museum of Engineering that explicitly teaching students about the connections between engineering, science and math, teaching the engineering design process rather than just posing an engineering challenge, and helping students gather information from failed attempts all make a difference to students’ ability to absorb and retain science and engineering concepts.

Researchers also found that kids’ attitudes about girls in engineering were more positive for both boys and girls after being exposed to the Engineering at an early and elementary stage of their education.

Hands-on engineering activities empower young children to see themselves as problem solvers. They learn that there is more than one way to solve a problem, and that it’s okay to fail and try again.  Engineering design challenges with age-appropriate engineering design processes will provide fun and engaging opportunities for the youngest learners, and it is important to create early childhood curriculum activities that look different in preschool in comparison to kindergarten.

If you have ever watched children at play, you know they’re fascinated with building things—and with taking things apart to see how they work. Children are natural-born engineers, and research suggests that when children learn engineering there are several positive results:

Building Science and Math Skills – Engineering calls for children to apply what they know about science and math—and their learning is enhanced as a result. At the same time, because engineering activities are based on real-world technologies and problems, they help children see how disciplines like math and science are relevant to their lives.

Classroom Equity – The engineering design process removes the stigma from failure; instead, failure is an important part of the problem-solving process and a positive way to learn. It is equally important that there is no single “right” answer in engineering; one problem can have many solutions. When classroom instruction includes engineering, all students can see themselves as successful.

Development of 21st Century Skills – Hands-on, project-based learning is the essence of engineering. As groups of students work together to answer questions like, “How large should I make the canopy of this parachute?” or, “What material should I use for the blades of my windmill?” they collaborate, think critically and creatively, and communicate with one another.

Develops Career Success – Classroom engineering activities often require students to work in teams where they must collaborate and communicate effectively. In the 21st century, these skills will be critical for career success in any field.

Research also shows that when engineering is part of elementary instruction, students become more aware of the diverse opportunities for engineering, science, and technical careers—and they are more likely to see these careers as options they could choose.

Becoming Engaged Citizens – Engineering and technological literacy will be critical globally for all children and students and adults to make informed decisions in the 21st century.