Teaching Engineering in Kindergarden

Glenn Rock, New Jersey did an inspired thing, and added Engineering into their kindergarden program:

They plan multiday projects, often built around classic and popular stories like the Three Little Pigs, and take students step by step through the engineering process: design, build, test, evaluate.

“They have to have the thinking skills of an engineer to keep up with all the innovation that’s constantly coming into their world,” Ms. Morrow said.

First graders were recently challenged with helping a farmer keep rabbits out of his garden.

In teams of four, they brainstormed about building fences with difficult-to-scale ladders instead of doors and setting out food decoys for the rabbits. They drew up blueprints and then brought them to life with plastic plates, paper cups, straws and foam paper.

Then they planned to test their ideas with pop-up plastic rabbits. If the fences were breached, they would be asked to improve the design.

“It gets your brain going,” said Elizabeth Crowley, 7, who wants to be an engineer when she grows up. “And I actually learn something when I’m doing a project — like you can work together to do something you couldn’t do before.”

I’m hoping the Race to the Top program spurs more of this kind of thing.

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