Tag: Engineering

Engineers Week Feb. 18-24

This week, February 18-24, 2024, is DiscoverE’s Engineers Week. Their tagline:

“A week-long event, a year-long commitment”

Do you wonder why anyone would be passionate about engineering? Forbes published three good reasons:

  • The U.S. has approximately 1.6 million engineering jobs that pay $42 per hour in median.
  • Job growth from 2010 to 2014 was in the double digits in several engineering occupations.
  • Since 2007, the number of engineering grads nationwide has shot up 33%.

Overall, engineering offers a combination of intellectual challenge, real-world impact, and opportunities for personal and professional growth. By pursuing a career in engineering, students can contribute to meaningful projects, solve complex problems, and make a positive difference in the world.

What is Engineers Week?

Engineers Week, also known as EWeek, is an annual event celebrated in the United States typically during the third or fourth week of February, this week: February 18-24, 2024 dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of engineering.

During Engineers Week, engineering societies, universities, companies, and other organizations organize workshops, competitions, seminars, outreach programs to schools, career fairs, and networking events. The goal is to inspire the next generation of engineers, showcase the importance of engineering in solving global challenges, and recognize the achievements of engineers and encourage young people to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

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5 Unplugged Hour of Code Activities

Over the next weeks, I’ll share ideas that will get you ready for Hour of Code. This includes (links are live on publication day):

  1. An Overview of This Week — Dec. 5, 2023
  2. Long list of websites by grade — Dec. 6, 2023
  3. 9 Unusual Projects— Dec. 7, 2023
  4. 5 Unplugged Hour of Code Activities — (this post) Dec. 8, 2023

***

These unplugged activities go back to the roots of coding. The idea started as a clever way to teach students to think critically and problem-solve, show them that deep thinking was fun and problem-solving exhilarating.

I happen to agree. Some of my most gratifying moments are when I accomplish the impossible, unravel a Mobius Strip-like problem, or force myself to do what I’ve never before done. Hour of Code does that every year for oh-so-many students. But here’s my issue: Too often, kids forget that the goal is to practice critical thinking and problem solving, not pursue a career in programming.

Let’s reinforce that goal by stepping away from the digital device, recognize that critical thinking and problem-solving apply to any part of life, even without a computer, iPad, or smartphone in hand. All kids need is their brain which happily, every child carries with them.

Here are some of my favorite unplugged activities:

Crazy Circuits With Squishy Circuits

Ages: MS

I admit, when I first received this kit, I didn’t get the name–Crazy Circuits with Squishy Circuits. I couldn’t get my brain around all those words until I unwrapped the box and pulled the parts out. Then I got it: This had a ton of promise. If you’ve ever made Play Dough at home or in science class and used it as conductors and insulators–that’s the squishy part. When you poke circuits that light up or run motors or a bunch of other stuff into the dough–that’s the crazy part. With this relatively inexpensive kit, a wide age range of students learn about seemingly complicated topics such as insulators, conductors, resistance, and parallel and series circuits.

This is ready to go out of the box which means no soldering required.

The Crazy Circuits With Squishy Circuits kit includes six containers of colored squishy dough–some conductive and some insulating–and a variety of Crazy Circuits Chips. You don’t have to make anything or buy anything else. Detailed directions, project guides, educational resources, and videos can be found online in the Ward’s Science database. Crazy Circuits are compatible with LEGO™ and similar brick building systems.

If you’re wondering how squishy dough can conduct electricity, watch this 4-minute TED Talk. Though the video shows how to make the dough, you don’t have to do that. Ward’s Science sends it as part of the kit. You just attach the circuits, motors, and conductors, and let your creativity flow:

(more…)

13 Online Bridge Building Resources

The popularity of bridge building as a school activity has fluctuated over the years, once a right of passage for 8th graders and then avoided. Recent years have seen a resurgence for some great reasons:

  • Problem-solving skills: Bridge building requires you to identify and solve problems, such as how to make a bridge strong enough to support a certain weight or how to make a bridge that is aesthetically pleasing.
  • Critical thinking skills: Bridge building requires you to think critically about the different factors that affect the design and construction of a bridge, such as the materials used, the forces acting on the bridge, and the environment in which the bridge will be built.
  • Teamwork skills: Bridge building is a team sport, and you will need to work effectively with others to design, build, and test a bridge.
  • Communication skills: Bridge building requires you to communicate effectively with others, both verbally and in writing. You will need to be able to explain your ideas to others, listen to their feedback, and work together to solve problems.
  • Creativity: Bridge building requires you to be creative and come up with new ideas. You will need to be able to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to problems.

If you’re having a bridge building lesson at your school, here are great links to support that:

Bridge Building (hands-on)

  1. Bridge Constructor (app)
  2. Bridge Designer by SourceForge
  3. Open Bridge Modeler (software download)
  4. Structural Bridge Design by Autodesk (free)

Basics (resources, info)

  1. Bridge basics
  2. Bridge building contest
  3. Building Bridges
  4. How to Build a Bridge (an infographic and more)
  5. Model bridge Design
  6. World’s Strangest Bridges!!

Competitions

  1. DiscoverE Bridge Building Links
  2. Mississippi Department of Transportation Bridge Building Competition
  3. National Society of Professional Engineers

–images from Deposit Photo

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

3 Projects to Teach 1st Grade Architecture

Many Fridays, I report on a wonderful website or project my classes and parents love. This one is teaching architecture to youngers:

Lesson Plan:

Three projects over six weeks and your students will learn about blueprints, room layout, dimensions, and more. Plus, they’ll understand how to think about a three-dimensional object and then spatially lay it out on paper. This is challenging, but fun for first graders.

Spend two weeks on each projects. Incorporate a discussion of spaces, neighborhoods, communities one week. Practice the drawing, then do the final project which students can save and print. Kids will love this unit.

  • First, draw a picture in your drawing program of the child’s home. If you don’t already have a class favorite, check this list. Many have architecture tools so show students how to find them. Have kids think about their house, walk through it. They’ll have to think in three dimensions and will soon realize they can’t draw a two-story house. In that case, allow them to pick which rooms they wish to include and concentrate on what’s in the room.
[caption id="attachment_4159" align="aligncenter" width="585"]first grade Classroom layout–through the eyes of a First Grader[/caption]

6 Unplugged Hour of Code Activities

Over the next week, I’ll share ideas that will get you ready for your Hour of Code. This includes (links won’t work until the articles are posted):

  1. An Overview of This Week
  2. Long list of websites by grade
  3. 10 Unusual Projects
  4. 6 Unplugged Hour of Code Activities (today)

***

These unplugged activities go back to the roots of coding. The idea started as a clever way to teach students to think critically and problem-solve. The easiest way was to gamify coding, put students on a digital device they loved, and set them free. One hour, according to Hour of Code, would show them that deep thinking was fun and problem-solving was exhilarating.

I happen to agree. Some of my most gratifying moments are when I accomplish the impossible, unravel a Mobius Strip-like problem, or force myself to do what I’ve never before done. Hour of Code does that every year for oh many students. But here’s my issue: Too often, kids forget that the goal is to practice critical thinking and problem solving, not pursue a career in programming.

Let’s reinforce that goal by stepping away from digital device, recognize that these skills — critical thinking and problem-solving — apply to any part of life, even without a computer, iPad, or smartphone in hand. All kids need is their brain which happily, every child carries with them.

Here are some of my favorite unplugged activities:

Crazy Circuits With Squishy Circuits

I admit, when I first received this kit, I didn’t get the name–Crazy Circuits with Squishy Circuits. I couldn’t get my brain around all those words until I unwrapped the box and pulled the parts out. Then I got it: This had a ton of promise. If you’ve ever made Play Dough at home or in science class and used it as conductors and insulators–that’s the squishy part. When you poke circuits that light up or run motors or a bunch of other stuff into the dough–that’s the crazy part. With this relatively inexpensive kit, a wide age range of students learn about seemingly complicated topics such as insulators, conductors, resistance, and parallel and series circuits.

This is ready to go out of the box which means no soldering required.

How to Use it

The Crazy Circuits With Squishy Circuits kit includes six containers of colored squishy dough–some conductive and some insulating–and a variety of Crazy Circuits Chips. You don’t have to make anything or buy anything else. Detailed directions, project guides, educational resources, and videos can be found online in the Ward’s Science database. Crazy Circuits are compatible with LEGO™ and similar brick building systems.

If you’re wondering how squishy dough can conduct electricity, watch this 4-minute TED Talk. Though the video shows how to make the dough, you don’t have to do that. Ward’s Science sends it as part of the kit. You just attach the circuits, motors, and conductors, and let your creativity flow:

(more…)

National STEM/STEAM Day Nov. 8th

National STEM Day is November 8, 2022, the unofficial holiday that celebrates science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education throughout the United States. Many add ‘art’ to the celebration for the acronym, STEAM. Here are some great ideas that remind your students of the excitement that is these core subjects:

Ten Ways to Celebrate National STEM Day with NASA

National STEM Day focuses on helping students advance in STEM fields, a priority of NASA as we continue to push the boundaries of exploration and soar into the future. In celebration of National STEM Day, we challenge you to engage and inspire the Artemis generation as we go forward to the Moon by 2024 and continue to innovate in the areas of Earth science and aeronautics. To help you join in on the festivities, here are 10 ways you can celebrate National STEM Day with us.

49 STEM Activities for Students 

On November 8th, we will celebrate National STEM Day to get kids excited about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Together the STEM subjects represent some of the fastest-growing and most in-demand fields in the United States.

While STEM topics seem a natural fit in high schools and post-secondary curriculum, education experts are promoting a focus on STEM subjects for younger and younger children. 

12 Projects for your STEAM program

Twelve favorite STEAM projects where artistic thinking becomes the engine for unpacking solutions. 

Activities from Engineering for Kids

National STEM/STEAM Day is dedicated to all things science, technology, engineering, art, and math. STEM (and STEAM) represents some of the fastest-growing and in-demand fields in the world today and Engineering For Kids is passionate about inspiring the next generation of engineers, artists, and innovators.

Bring Weather into Your Lesson Plan with Earth Networks and WeatherSTEM

One of the hottest topics in schools and an area of greatest need is STEM resources.  Earth Networks has developed creative and compelling STEM curricula on a variety of weather topics. Any school with a weather unit or an onsite weather station will appreciate this site. I asked them to drop in and explain their education programs to the AATT community:

5 Ways to Celebrate National STEM/STEAM Day

National STEM/STEAM Day is an opportunity to focus on helping kids advance in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Creating understanding around STEM and STEAM is a big topic of conversation today. Statistics show few American students pursue expertise in STEM fields—and we have an inadequate pipeline of teachers skilled in those subjects. On the flipside of that the need for STEM oriented job skills are skyrocketing.

4 Lesson plans

This STEM bundle includes four lesson plans: Engineering and Design, The Human Body, Keyboarding and the Scientific Method, and Robotics. All incorporate technology into authentic class activities such as bridge building, note-taking, and math. Each lesson plan includes an Essential Question and Big Idea, average time required to complete, suggested appropriate grade level, suggested teacher preparation, step-by-step directions (see preview for an example), assessment strategies, pedagogic background, samples, and images (where relevant). 

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15+ Websites to Teach Financial Literacy

Financial Literacy Month is recognized annually in Canada in November,[1] and National Financial Literacy Month was recognized in the United States in April 2004,[2] in an effort to highlight the importance of financial literacy and teach citizens how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.

When kids read that America’s $28 trillion+ debt is accepted by many experts as ‘business as usual’, I wonder how that news will affect their future personal finance decisions. Do they understand the consequences of unbalanced budgets? The quandary of infinite wants vs. finite dollars? Or do they think money grows on some fiscal tree that always blooms? The good news is: Half of the nation’s schools require a financial literacy course. The bad new is: Only half require a financial literacy course.

If your school doesn’t teach a course about personal economics, there are many online sites that address the topic as mini-lessons. Some are narrative; others games. Here are fifteen I like. See if one suits you (check here for updates on links):

  1. Banzai–financial literacy (free) online program
  2. Bartleby Economics Q&A
  3. BizKids–games to teach business and finance
  4. Budget Challenge–for HS and college
  5. Cash Crunch–games for youngers and olders (HS and college)
  6. Financial Football–as fun as it sounds
  7. Financial Literacy Quizzes–in a variety of financial topics for high schoolers
  8. Gen I Revolution
  9. H&R Block Budget Challenge game
  10. Life on Minimum Wage (a game–through TpT but free)
  11. Living Wage–what’s it cost to survive–by state, cities, counties
  12. Own vs Rent Calculator–plug in the numbers; see the results
  13. Personal Finance for MS
  14. Personal Finance Lab–stock market game
  15. Practical Money Skills
  16. Spent

Curriculum

(more…)

6 Unplugged Activities for Hour of Code

Hour of Code–December 7th-12, 2020–is a time when teachers show students why they should love-not-fear coding and students find out that these activities — often seen as geeky or impossible — aren’t. They’re actually fun.

Over the next week, I’ll share ideas that will get you ready for your Hour of Code. This includes (links won’t work until the articles are posted):

***

These suggestions go back to the roots of coding. The idea started as a clever way to teach students to think critically and problem-solve. The easiest way was to gamify coding, put students on a digital device they loved, and set them free. One hour, according to Hour of Code, would show them that deep thinking was fun and problem-solving was exhilarating.

I happen to agree. Some of my most gratifying moments are when I accomplish the impossible, unravel a Mobius Strip-like problem, or force myself to do what I’ve never before done. Hour of Code does that every year for oh many students. But here’s my issue: Too often, kids forget that the goal is to practice critical thinking and problem solving, not pursue a career in programming.

Let’s reinforce that goal by stepping away from digital device, recognize that these skills — critical thinking and problem-solving — apply to any part of life, even without a computer, iPad, or smartphone in hand. All kids need is their brain which happily, every child carries with them.

Here are some of my favorite unplugged activities:

Crazy Circuits With Squishy Circuits

I admit, when I first received this kit, I didn’t get the name–Crazy Circuits with Squishy Circuits. I couldn’t get my brain around all those words until I unwrapped the box and pulled the parts out. Then I got it: This had a ton of promise. If you’ve ever made Play Dough at home or in science class and used it as conductors and insulators–that’s the squishy part. When you poke circuits that light up or run motors or a bunch of other stuff into the dough–that’s the crazy part. With this relatively inexpensive kit, a wide age range of students learn about seemingly complicated topics such as insulators, conductors, resistance, and parallel and series circuits.

This is ready to go out of the box which means no soldering required.

How to Use it

The Crazy Circuits With Squishy Circuits kit includes six containers of colored squishy dough–some conductive and some insulating–and a variety of Crazy Circuits Chips. You don’t have to make anything or buy anything else. Detailed directions, project guides, educational resources, and videos can be found online in the Ward’s Science database. Crazy Circuits are compatible with LEGO™ and similar brick building systems.

If you’re wondering how squishy dough can conduct electricity, watch this 4-minute TED Talk. Though the video shows how to make the dough, you don’t have to do that. Ward’s Science sends it as part of the kit. You just attach the circuits, motors, and conductors, and let your creativity flow:

(more…)

National STEM/STEAM Day Nov. 8th

National STEM Day is November 8 and the unofficial holiday celebrates science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education throughout the United States.

Here are some great ideas for celebrating:

Ten Ways to Celebrate National STEM Day with NASA | NASA

National STEM Day is November 8 and the unofficial holiday celebrates science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education throughout the United States. The day focuses on helping students advance in STEM fields, a priority of NASA as we continue to push the boundaries of exploration and soar into the future. In celebration of National STEM Day, we challenge you to engage and inspire the Artemis generation as we go forward to the Moon by 2024 and continue to innovate in the areas of Earth science and aeronautics. To help you join in on the festivities, here are 10 ways you can celebrate National STEM Day with us.

49 STEM Activities for Students 

On November 8th 2019, we will celebrate National STEM Day to get kids excited about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Together the STEM subjects represent some of the fastest-growing and most in-demand fields in the United States.

While STEM topics seem a natural fit in high schools and post-secondary curriculum, education experts are promoting a focus on STEM subjects for younger and younger children. You might be asking, what will a four or five-year-old student be able to understand about these subjects?

(more…)