The Engineering Structure – How It Applies to Elementary STEM

Science is based on investigations that gather and analyze data to understand different aspects of the natural world, while engineering is about applying what we know from science (plus math, technology, and other disciplines) toward solutions that solve a problem. We talked about these differences in a previous blog, which you can check out HERE. Today, however, we want to focus on the engineering process, and how you can emulate this process in your STEM teaching.

Engineers use an iterative process to test and provide the best possible solution to a problem. In order to test these solutions, an engineer or a team of engineers usually design several solutions and prototypes at first. These prototypes are subjected to a series of tests to examine which ones are best for specific conditions. Engineers use data collected from these tests to improve upon their prototypes; which they then test again (and redesign again) until they have developed an optimal solution.

In our free webinar “Energize Your Class With the Gummy Bear Dare” we use “The Engineering Structure,” which outlines this process.  

The Engineering Structure Has Five Basic Steps:

  1. Define the problem.
  2. Develop possible solutions.
  3. Test and evaluate solutions
  4. Reflect and improve solutions.
  5. Apply the best solution to the problem.

Even our very young elementary students can be taught this structure while teachers use open-ended questions and prompts to walk their students through the process.  These include:

  • How do you want to solve this problem?
  • Tell me about the solution you developed, and how it solves the problem
  • What is your next step?

In our course, we outline this process thoroughly and share tips and tricks on how to use it in the classroom along with our detailed lesson plan, which is available until May 31st. Register here for free:

Along with tons of other freebies, we’ve included our infographic, which outlines the Engineering Structure, so sign up and grab it before it’s gone!  

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