We can teach children to internalize the same practices that engineers and scientists use to investigate the world, build models, develop theory, and design systems while they are still young. Kids love exploring the world around them and figuring out how things work.
There are so many different types of engineers. Engineers don't just build machines and structure; they design processes that help solve the world’s problems.
What does it mean to Think like an Engineer?
Engineers are creative problem solvers. They combine both science and art, and they think both creatively and analytically. They solve difficulties quickly and think broadly. Adding Arts to Science, Technology, Engineering makes STEAM which is better than STEM. Engineering is essential as it challenges children to apply basic principles, and learning is enhanced. Engineering activities build on real-world problems and technologies. They help children to see how science and math play out in their day-to-day lives. An engineer designs and builds complex systems, machines, products, and structures. As future engineers, children are keen to learn why and how things work. Before anything is made, it is first planned out or engineered.
Problem solving is the process of solving complex or challenging issues. The problem is defined, the cause of the problem determined, alternative solutions identified, and implementing the solution. Children should learn mechanisms of identifying issues, figuring them out, and determining how to fix them.
Critical thinking is analyzing and evaluating an issue to form your own judgment. Critical thinking enhances children’s capacity for the presentation skills and language. Thinking systematically enhances the expression of ideas and comprehension. Critical thinkers solve problems systematically instead of using instinct or intuition.
Peer instruction or learning is collaborative learning in pairs or small groups that allow students to find solutions to problems or discuss concepts together. Cooperative learning is essential as students from various backgrounds, upbringing, and races work together. Children learn from others and get to hear alternative opinions. The kids should know their team's roles, be good collaborators, loyal, motivate one another, appreciate their peers, avoid unnecessary communication, and use technology. Peer-to-peer learning helps students to develop deep thinking. Group learning helps children to improve oral communication, high-level-thinking, leadership skills, and self-management.
In Project Based Learning, students apply the knowledge they acquire in engaging classroom experiences. Students should actively explore challenges and real-world problems; develop skills to live in a knowledgeable, highly technological society. Through these skills, the children become managers and directors of their learning process. A skilled teacher mentors and guides them to higher scales in learning. In project-based learning, children work with laid goals, but in problem based learning; the children set the outcomes and set the learning goals.
Children learn by doing; not just listening to instructors. They are involved in creating something or solving a problem. Hands-on-learning develops critical skills and brings real-world experience to the kids. They use equipment and materials used on the job. Teaching your kids to think an engineer is all about preparing them to understand how things work, pay attention to their environment, think critically, and find better ways to solve problems. These are all skills that you can reinforce in the course of their day-to-day learning.