Self Assessment = Active Learning

Teaching Engineering Made Easy (Volumes 1 and 2), include two different types of assessments.

1. Student self-assessments: Many activities include “engineering design checklists” for students to evaluate their designs. Self-evaluation encourages students to become lifelong learners. Teachers should encourage self-evaluation because self-assessment makes the students active participants in their education. Research suggests that the simplest tools to encourage student self-assessment are evaluative questions that force students to think about their work (Hart, 1999). Sample questions on the checklists include:

  • The structure meets the stated challenge requirements.
  • The project meets the stated goals of the team.
  • The project design team followed the challenge rules.
  • The project team exhibited effective, cooperative group work with every member participating.
  • The project prototype was carefully designed and built (if required).
  • The project team showed perseverance and a willingness to try again if necessary.
  • The project team was inventive in redesigning the original prototype.
  • The final structure shows creativity and originality.

2. Crossword and word search puzzle assessments are also included.

Take a look -The activities within Teaching Engineering Made Easy build communication and team work skills, increase student engagement and serve as a launching pad to engineering design in a formal or informal learning environment. Teachers direct the length of each activity and adapt them to meet the needs of their students or situation. The materials are easily accessible and no formal science lab is needed.

NGSS and Teaching Engineering Made Easy

Teaching Engineering Made Easy; A Friendly Introduction to Engineering Activities for Middle School Teachers (Volumes 1 and 2) are books of 20 engineering activities designed to introduce both teachers and students to the world of technology and engineering. Developed to help middle school teachers with no engineering background teach engineering, these easy and exciting, time and work saving books can be used in the classroom, an informal science environment, to enhance an event or competition, at an engineering camp or any other educational setting. They offer a ready collection of projects, lessons and activities to help teachers stimulate student’s thought processes and get them thinking like an engineer. By using these teaching guides, students can see that engineering is not something to be afraid of but a realistic way to solve the problems of everyday life.

The activities do not require a formal science lab and can be done with materials that are inexpensive and easy to find. Activities range from 20-minute problem solving exercises to several class period design or “challenge” activities. The challenge activities integrate perfectly with the Disciplinary Core Ideas of the NGSS. Engineering challenges are design problems that require students to identify needs, define problems (ETS1.A), identify design criteria and constraints, develop solutions (ETS1.B), and evaluate their solutions (ETS1.C).

In these activities, there are more than one “right” answer. In a class of 10 student teams, you will often see 10 different designs that all meet the design criteria. The right design is usually one that meets the engineering criteria and is built within the materials budget. Students will design, construct, and test their engineering design solution and collect relevant data (if applicable). They will then evaluate the solution in terms of design and performance criteria, constraints, priorities, and trade-offs while also identifying possible design improvements.

9th Annual Poster Contest!

EESC’s 9th Annual Engineering Poster Contest Kickoff!

The theme for the EESC’s 2013 poster contest is Engineering Innovation. You may enter up to three times. Posters should be fun, motivational, and inspire students to pursue a degree in Engineering, Engineering Technology or any other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) field.

Engineering Innovation

Most people don’t describe engineers as creative. Many people equate the word “creative” with being artists or writers. Engineers are just like artists except with a practical twist. They see a problem and apply creativity to find a solution.

Because consumers decided vacuuming was a problem, now we have the Roomba iRobot vacuum cleaner that automatically vacuums or mops floors while you do something more enjoyable. New homes often have vacuuming systems already installed in the walls or self-vacuuming kitchens, and Dyson engineers are always trying to design a better vacuum cleaner. In fact, a look at the advanced cleaning systems over the last 10 years further indicate just how frequently engineers are employed to find better and more innovative cleaning solutions. Scrubbing Bubbles self-cleans your bathtub daily, the Swifter wants to mop your kitchen, and portable power-washers allow the average consumer to clean the exterior of their home and property without any other special equipment. Think about a world without dishwashers, microwave ovens, washing machines, dryers, refrigerators or freezers. Without engineers, so many day-to-day chores would be much harder.

On other technology fronts, engineers are the ones who figure out how to make a roller coaster careen forward at 120mph in four seconds without injury. They are the ones who figure out how to make cars run on electricity or fuel cell technology to keep our atmosphere cleaner. They create medical equipment used by doctors to keep us healthy, and even work in the food industry to make foods such as chocolate and cereal taste better. Engineers have given us digital music, email and communications that fit into our pocket, and are hard at work to help save endangered animals from extinction, improve our environment and increase our safety.

Problem-solving has been the path by which some of the most amazing inventions and technologies have arrived in the market today. These inventions exist because one engineer had an idea. Look back at old pictures of the bicycle. People wanted the bicycle to go faster, to go up and down mountains and be more comfortable. The difference now is due to engineering. So that bikes could go off-road and through trails, engineers designed lightweight and stronger frames, along with shock absorbers, forks and wheels to take the punishment of off-road riding. When the cost of gas rose so much that more people wanted to ride bikes to work or school, engineers created a lightweight folding bicycle that could be carried into an office and unobtrusively stored or put into a school locker. When a faster bike was needed to win the Tour de France, engineers designed that too. Each year, engineers have gone back to the drawing board and made bicycles better. What will bicycles look like in another ten years? The future engineering workforce has the capacity to make the world a better place where people are safer, have more fun and can do more.

Contest deadline: 11:59pm November 1, 2013

Winners will be notified by November 14, 2013

View the 2005-2012 winning posters here

LEGO to Add Woman Scientist Minifigure

LEGOminifigureThanks to LEGO for including a female scientist minifigure in their new series 11 coming out on September 1!

Although I prefer the girl-empowering Lego sets and minifigures (includes Wonder Woman), if you’d like to add more diversity to your Lego collection while this set is still under evaluation, the Community Minifigures Set which features 22 figures in a variety of community roles, including female characters in such professions as computer programmer, doctor, pilot, farmer, police officer, fire fighter, construction worker, waiter, cyclist, and race car driver is available.