Back when I was applying to college, I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to study. My dad, a mathematics professor, encouraged me to take my skills in science and math to an engineering program.
At the time, the engineering profession was a little bit of a mystery to me. I had never taken an "engineering" class or told how other coursework might apply to real-world engineering projects. Had I not had the insight of an adult who understood the discipline, I don't know that I would have tried it.
How do you help students to understand what engineering is and what skills it requires?
I often think this about all the STEM disciplines. How do we get students jazzed about math, science, engineering, and technology?
Our workforce needs more of these people but it seems so few of our students get interested. Often we hear these subjects are too boring or hard.
I hope people will respond to this - I'm wondering the same thing.
Science NetLinks just posted a new Tool that can be used to introduce students to engineering through videos on the biomechanics of skateboarding, roller coaster designs and more. This tool is good for grades 3-5 and 6-8.
This is just one of the new resources we've developed for National Engineers Week coming up next month. We have a full collection of engineering resources that we're updating. Once it's finished I'll post here.
Science NetLinks Director
We've updated our National Engineers Week Teaching Resources collection page with new resources. You'll find lessons, tools, interactives, podcasts and other web resources for all grade levels. Hopefully some of these resources will engage your students and help them learn about the many possible directions of engineering.
Science NetLinks Director
You might want to check out the National Academies site called Engineer Girl, designed for middle school girls. It has profiles of women who are engineers and other good information. (http://www.engineergirl.org/)
Also check out stemcollaborative.org. There are links to STEM content for middle school students developed by several public television stations, as well as links to other STEM resources.
How many times have we heard that a child follows the path of his/her parents? If your parents went to college, chances you will too. If your parents were in the military, chances are you will too. If your parents were engineers or scientists, you will be motivated to pursue that field.
Thus, if the nation wants more youth to go into engineering fields, we need to find ways to increase the connection of people who workin engineering with youth who don't have these models in their family or community.
I lead a non-shool volunteer-based tutor/mentor program strategy in Chicago where volunteers from many business backgrounds connect with our teens as they join us in 7th grade. Our volunteers find us via internet searches or are recruited by their friends. We constantly search for donors to support the infrastructure that makes this possible.
Since 1994 I have been building a database of Chicago non-school tutor/mentor programs that can be searched by age-group and zip code. This is on the internet. If those who want more youth to become engineers would use their advertising, media, web sites and philanthropy to encourage employees to be volunteers, lleaders, tech support and/or donors in these different programs, and to support their on-going and long-term involvement, more kids could be reached and inspired to be engineers, and could be given age appropriate support as they go through school so that they are more likely to do the post high school work that leads them into this industry.
I am currently working with two schools in our state who received some funding to pursue development of STEAM-based courses - STEAM being STEM with arts incorporated so STEM becomes Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.
I was so pleased to see the Engineering Week (February 19-25) resources featured on the main Thinkfinity page - there are some excellent resources there to help students of all ages explore engineering, science, math, and design concepts.
I think the key is to find different ways to present STEM concepts to students so they can see how these careers can be exciting, how math and science can be FUN, and that everyone can participate - not just the "smart" kids.
I attended a STEM education summit at Oak Park River Forest High School in Chicago area last Friday and many good ideas were shared. I wrote this blog article with my ideas and with some links from the summit. I host a web library with links to many resources that educators and community partners might use to support their own efforts to build and sustain mentor-rich STEM programs that also can serve as Drop-out prevention programs. STEM ideas are in this section.
A close friend and I have recently established a website for the encouragement of engineering. It's a games based website for children but some of the thinking those games require baffle even me (an adult) at times!
If you're interested you can visit us by clicking the link engineering games
Looking for some good lessons in nanotechnology? That's just one area featured on eGFI's Pathway to Engineering website. eGFI is a website filled with resources to assist teachers in helping students learn skills in math, science, and engineering.
The eGFI website offers lesson plans by grade level at http://teachers.egfi-k12.org/category/lessons/, class activities by grade level at http://teachers.egfi-k12.org/category/activities/, and outreach programs http://teachers.egfi-k12.org/category/k-12-outreach-programs/. Educators may sign up for free online newsletters for teachers and/or students from eGFI at http://www.egfi-k12.org/about/contact-us/ that include activities and educational news related to STEM lessons and projects.
It's a site worth checking out for STEM resources. What can you use from this site to teach STEM lessons in your class?