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Future Engineers

Ranney School’s (Tinton Falls, NJ) youngest students are preparing to reveal self-designed engineering projects as part of a division-wide Engineering Expo taking place in March 2015. Students in Kindergarten through Fifth Grade are spending approximately six weeks in their science classes focusing on engineering, from brainstorming and planning their ideas, to sketching their designs, to building and putting their projects into action. Below is a sneak-peak at some of their work.
Younger students are designing projects around books read during class. For example, Kindergarteners are making a back scratcher using everyday materials such as cardboard rolls, pipe cleaners, plastic utensils, rubber bands and rulers. The idea for a back scratcher came from a book called “Big Smelly Bear” – students need to create a way to help the bear solve his problem of an itchy back.
In the upper grades, third-graders have already built miniature houses out of cardboard and art duct tape and then designed and built simple circuits that open and close with a switch for the rooms in the houses. Fourth-graders started with a rolling car prototype and are engineering ways for the cars to race while carrying balloons. Fifth-graders have been engaged in short-term engineering projects to gain experience using the Engineering Design Process and working cooperatively as a team. Their first challenge, Save the Marshmallow, was to build the highest free-standing tower that could hold a marshmallow using only 20 strands of spaghetti, tape and string.
These projects and the Engineering unit allow students the opportunity to explore, experiment and evaluate with hands-on applications. Students work in teams or small groups which also provides a collaborative element to their work. “Not only do they have to design a concept to a challenge or problem, but they have to implement that design-they get to see their ideas in action,” says Teacher Judy Salisbury.

Does your school do something similar?

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