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.
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.
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