In a world of evolving technologies and complex problems, training children as young as kindergartners to think like engineers may be the key to helping them prepare for the future.
This is the stance that Kimberly Weaver, engineering educator at Washington University’s Institute for School Partnership (ISP), took as she presented at the 2015 Missouri STEM Summit. The conference, hosted by the Missouri Math and Science Coalition, drew in participants from a variety of backgrounds. From business professionals to educators, the event brought together individuals from every stage of the STEM pipeline.
During her presentation, Weaver spoke about both the importance and the accessibility of engineering education at the elementary level.
“The industry leaders in the opening session emphasized that their main need is for engineers,” Weaver said. “It’s so important that students are taught engineering habits of mind at a young age and that they learn how to be problem solvers.”
During her talk, Weaver gave educators tangible ways of introducing engineering to young learners using MySci, the ISP’s project-based science curriculum. In addition to resources, Weaver broke down some major barriers and misconceptions in STEM education.
“Educators often think that they cannot do STEM with their students because they don’t have access to expensive technologies,” Weaver said. “However, there are many projects and exercises that use materials that they already have in their classroom.”
Weaver also covered how teachers could maximize their time by rolling STEM into their current math, science and even English curricula and how to draw the distinction between doing engineering and simply tinkering.
“Engineering must have a redesign component,” Weaver said. “It is through this process of redesign that students learn how to not only solve problems but how to learn from failure, grow from feedback, and improve their solutions.”
December 2015 | by, Gennafer Barajas