Start your engines . . . READY, SET, BUILD. In October, students have designed their race cars out of recycled material in order to figure out what design is optimized for speed and distance. Students in Herbert Hoover’s STEAM class ponder in the unit’s essential question, “How do I engineer a car that is design for speed and distance?” Once of the aspects of engineering is not only building and planning, but also researching already made vehicles and testing current models out. What did student’s used to build their car, they include but are not limited to plastic bottles, skewer sticks, cardboard, tape, shoe boxes, aluminum foil, and aluminum cans. As a teacher, I was amaze how creative our students can get to build their cars. After a while, this whole projects became a competition and all of a sudden we didn’t have enough bottle caps for wheel so the bottle caps became commodities.
There were certain skills in general that students demonstrated . . . planning and designing, creating, imagining, and innovating, persisting, and thinking flexibly. There were certain skills that our students needed to work on. One of which is working interdependently. One of my challenges as a teacher is to create a culture in which students are able too cooperatively. There were a cooperative groups, one person shows, and uncooperative groups. How do I teach cooperative learning without intervening too much which I felt I did in this project. The other skill is engineering. Student have a difficult time understanding that current model of inventions is not the end all be all model. All models are bound to be re-engineered into another model that fit a particular need. Student need to understand that there is no such things as the right answer but perspective(s) and looking at each perspective(s) pros and cons before deciding what model to use. Sometimes it is difficult to figure out what the pros and cons are until your build. There are multiple ways to engineer. But most importantly students needs to test, document progress, hypothesize, and retest again until their design is optimal for the occasion.