I am very excited to share our latest investigation. Since September I had noticed ramps being built, as part of the children’s work in the block area. Building on to their interest, I will be supporting the development of engineering habits of mind by challenging the children to design ramps for a specific purpose.
“The design process is defined as the engineer’s approach to identifying and solving a problem. This approach is iterative; open to the possibility of multiple solutions; a context for rich mathematical, scientific, and technological conceptual development; and an inspiration for systems thinking, modeling, and analysis.” (Katehi et al., 2009, p. 151).The Design Engineering Process plays out in SK
Moving through the Engineering Design Process for young children involves imagining, creating, testing and improving a plan. They hold an initial mental image of what they want to create, but this evolves as they are in the process of replicating their plan with the materials they choose.In our classroom children began to share knowledge and collaborate as they encountered problems with their designs. Plans continuously evolved in the process of creating their ramps. Habits of Mind essential for 21st century citizens includes, “Systems thinking, creativity, optimism, collaboration, communication, and attention to ethical considerations (Katehi et al., 2009, p. 152). All these were in evidence as the children designed and built their ramps.“The desire to design and build enables children to develop spatial reasoning and a working understanding of physical science. Provided with a reason to count, to seriate, to measure and compare, to consider space and time, the child demonstrates that STEM education works best when all aspects of the acronym are considered.” (Katehi et al., 2009, p. 162).Their initial designs included:
- Gates to stop and start rolling materials
- Experimentation with objects turning corners
- An awareness of aesthetics is evident in the design process
- Building upwards, to increase the speed an object moves
- Construction to make an object travel across an open space
- Directing an object to a specific point
Following on from this, over the coming weeks I will be asking the children what problems they would like to explore, and what they would like to purposefully plan for, and build, with regard to ramps. We will keep you posted!