Wednesday, November 8, 2017

STEM for Your Homeschool: Thinking Like an Engineer by Innovators Tribe {Review}

We've got Math, English, Geography, and History covered in our homeschool curriculum.  We do Science as well but it has been hard to find good STEM curriculum to challenge my children's "tinkering" natures.  We have been trying out a new program I discovered called Thinking Like an Engineer from Innovators Tribe.  It is a well-designed online course that provides interactive hands-on lessons and activities in science, technology, engineering, and math.  We have used the course for a few weeks but I've also looked ahead at the material to be covered in future lessons.  Nicholas and Rachel are having fun with the course and I'm excited to share this review with you.



Thinking Like an Engineer combines its own videos with videos from outside sources as well as hands-on activities for students to complete on their own.  The course is intended for students in grades 6-12 and it can be completed independently without much teacher prep, except when you might need to help them locate a few household supplies for their challenge activities.


Thinking Like an Engineer

The course begins with an Introduction to Engineering where students learn about different types of engineers, the challenge of engineering clean water, and the grand challenges of the world.  They worked on several challenges including the Tower Challenge.  


The challenge was to build a tower as tall as you possibly could with just four sheets of paper and one foot of masking tape.  My kids each built their own towers but it was fun to see them give each other pointers or brainstorm ideas together on ways to make the towers better.


The next section of the course is an Introduction to 3D Design.  Here is where we got to download a CAD program called Autodesk 123D Design!  It is a really cool program and the tutorials for the software are easy to understand.  Students will learn how to design a car rim in CAD!


The additional challenges in this section of the course include designing a piece of furniture in Autodesk 123D Design as well as designing an improvement on some regular household item like a stapler.  My kids love this kind of challenge!  Sometimes their ideas are crazy but other times they are quite amazing.

Next the course teaches about Mechanical Engineering and how to build rollercoasters.  This section has a really impressive challenge that includes students building their own rollercoaster with downloadable paper roller coaster tracks!

The course also covers engineering bridges and comes with a Bridge Construction software that students can download and use to design their own bridges.


There are just so many cool challenges in this program that innovative kids can't help but have fun with it.  In addition to the videos, software downloads, and hands-on challenges, the course also provides students with lots of book recommendations and additional video links to explore their areas of interest further.

Thinking Like an Engineer does not provide grades for students.  I'm having as much fun as my kids as we work through the course together and since I'm right there I know first-hand how they are each progressing through the material.  I could assign grades for them if I wanted to.  However, the course does include a Course Journal that you can have students complete to give some accountability.  

Innovators Tribe

The company that makes this course is called Innovators Tribe.  Their current products include Thinking Like an Engineer and Thinking Like an Architect.  They are currently working on a new course called Thinking Like a Carpenter which will be available soon.


Thinking Like an Engineer costs $149 for 18 months of online access.  However, you will also have access to several different kinds of software to download during the course and you get to keep these programs even after the course has been completed so your children can continue to use them and learn as they go.  PLUS, go to the Innovators Tribe website right now and snatch up 35% savings on any course.  Thinking Like an Engineer is usually $149 but it is only $96 with this sale price.  But this offer ends on 11/11/17 so hurry!

If you would like to read more reviews on Thinking Like an Engineer or for reviews on Thinking Like an Architect, just click on the banner below:

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Pencil Grip and Ultra Safe Safety Scissors Review

Note: There are affiliate links in this post.  Thank you for supporting my blog!

We were asked by the Home School Review Crew to review some products from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  We received 
The 3-Step Pencil Grip Training Kit (aff. link) and The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors (aff. link).

Rachel struggles with handwriting.  She is left-handed and has always had unusual ways of holding her pencil.  I try to show her different ways to hold it but she keeps going back to her old way.  These pencil grips are a great tool to train children in how to hold a pencil correctly.  They are made of a flexible material but they are latex and phthalate free.  There is a hole down the middle of each of them.  To use, you simply slide the pencil grip on to any pencil or pen.  It helps to direct your fingers into the correct position.  And best of all, they work equally well with use on the right-hand or the left-hand!  There is an "R" and an "L" on each side showing you where to place the thumb for either hand.

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit

The first pencil grip we tried was the Crossover Grip.  It is considered a training grip.  It has a kind of "super hero" cape over the fingers and provides the most structure and support for proper finger positioning.  It is good for preventing the fingers from crossing over each other which is exactly what I'm trying to work with Rachel on.


The next one we tried was the Pinch Grip.  This pencil grip is more of a transition style.  It has partial "wings' so it gives a little more freedom of movement yet still provides the structure and reinforcement to help the child place their fingers in the correct position.  I like that Rachel can see the correct positioning with this one.  I think it will help her to learn the correct placement of her fingers when she is not using the grip.  This one is Rachel's favorite too.


The third grip we tried was the Original.  It has the least restrictive structure yet still guided her fingers to the correct placement.  However, I did find that she would slowly let her thumb slide forward as if she were trying to cross it over her fingers.  She may still need some work with the Pinch Grip before using this one.  However, I found that the Original was nice to use even as an adult just because it made for a more comfortable grip for me.


I love that the 3-step training kit provides all three pencil grips in one package so you can try each of them to see which is the better fit for your child, or you.  These grips have even been recommended by doctors and physical therapists.  The 3-Step Pencil Grip Training Kit (aff. link) is available on Amazon for around $8.00 for all three. Be sure to also check out the great resources and free downloads on improving pencil grip at www.thepencilgrip.com.

The Pencil Grip, Inc. also offers some really unique safety scissors.  Rachel no longer needs to use safety scissors but we were interested in learning more about them because we sometimes have little ones over to our house.  These scissors are called The Pencil Grip Ultra Safe Safety Scissor and they are the most unique safety scissors for kids that I've ever seen.

The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors

The blades of the scissors are covered by a clear plastic safety shield.  There is enough space to slide a piece of paper in but not enough space for a child to get their finger in it.  Take a look at Rachel's video review on these cool safety scissors:




The Ultra Safe Safety Scissor are available on Amazon for just $4.00.

We have been impressed with products from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  We have previously reviewed their Kwik Stix Thin Stix.  Rachel loved them!

If you would like to read additional reviews on the 3-step Pencil Grip Training Kit or the Ultra Safe Safety Scissors from other members of the Home School Review Crew, just click on the banner below:

Ultra Safe Safety Scissors & Pencil Grip Training Kit {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

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