Friday, July 11, 2014

S.T.E.M.: Focus on Engineering

At DuPage Children's Museum, our mission speaks to the integration of art, mathematics, and science. For the young learners that come through our doors, this means that we are consistently thinking about and developing ideas that focus on introducing these concepts all at the same time! As a matter of fact, you may know that engineering concepts pull specifically from both math and science content—engineering ideas, art processes, and the building of math and science skill sets are all things we do.

Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve
Encouraging children to ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve are steps in a design process that can be used to introduce children to engineering concepts.  Going through all of the steps and even circling back to the beginning can be beneficial to the learning process. When a child ASKs a question or wants to solve a problem, the child can then be encouraged to IMAGINE how that problem might be solved. In turn, a PLAN can be made to CREATE something that will help to answer the initial question.  The product can then be tested, allowing time for reflection on the process.  Finally, the child can begin to think about how the product might be IMPROVEd! These steps are part of a process that encourages children to think with an engineering mindset. This process is just as important as any product that may be developed!

Engineering at DCM
One of the ways we see engineering concepts develop at DuPage Children's Museum is in the Make It Move Neighborhood. The Ramps and Rollers exhibit offers a carpeted platform and a set of handcrafted maple unit blocks with holes, wooden rollways, tunnels, and bridges. Children can use these pieces to engineer simple and elaborate structures. Balls of various weights traverse the structures, offering physics exploration too! 

During your next visit spend some time developing engineering skills in Make It Move! You might even visit the Moser Construction House—how do you think engineering skill sets might come alive using wood pieces, nails, screws, and a vice grip?   

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