by Stefany Wells, Teacher, Van Buren & Rosemary Peck, GPAEA Science Specialist
Children are born engineers! From sandcastles and Legos to designing a more complex structure in science class, kids love to build, take apart, build and take apart again. The students in Mrs. Wells’ science class, Van Buren Community School District, are doing just that this year with the help from an Engineering in the Elementary grant through the Governor’s Scale Up program. Engineering in the elementary is a research-based, standards-driven, and classroom-tested curriculum that integrates engineering and technology concepts and skills with elementary science topics.
Air and Weather is currently a unit covered in second grade. The use of the engineering materials has taken the unit to a whole new level. The students used the engineering design process of ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve to design a sail for a boat and then later, a windmill. Some of the students soon found out there was much more to what an effective sail and blade design should consist of!
The students experimented with different materials such as wax paper, note cards, tissue paper and felt to determine which material had the best properties when effectively tested. They then had to think about the size and stability of their structures too. During the culminating activity of building the windmill, the students had to combine their knowledge and experiences in a team setting to create the most effective windmill. Working in a group can be very challenging for 7 and 8 year olds, but the ongoing engineering process teaches them collaborative skills and how to solve problems when dealing with real-world experiences.
Children pictured: Korbin Camp, Susanella Daugherty, Landon Harward, Bree Kirkhart, Jakob Mott, Emma Price-Burton, Kasey Stocker-Houston