For the last few weeks we have been focusing on innovative thinking; problem solving and creative thought. These are things that are very important to me and so I strive to encourage and grow them in my children. My oldest especially, is a very out of the box thinker; there are so many times he does the most amazing things. I cannot understand how he did it or what he was thinking when he designed it but I love his ability to think uniquely. So when I happened to stumble across Innovator’s Tribe, I was more than curious about the classes they offered. Having two boys who love to build and create and have too many blocks and bricks and legos to count, this was surely something we needed! Suffice to say we were super excited when Mr K. (the teacher of these classes) was willing to offer us Think Like An Engineer, for review! This is recommended for grades 6-12 but let me tell you, my son, who is soon to be 11, had a great time with this. 🙂
I love how right from the beginning of this course the emphasis is on learning how to think. Our kids are encouraged to think beyond what is, to what could be. Its not just encouraging our kids to have lots of ideas, its also teaching them how create more and more ideas. I mean, isn’t one thing so many seem to lack nowadays, a creative mind? A lively imagination? Right from the beginning our children are encouraged and inspired to become innovators!
One of the biggest issues I have had in my son’s education is getting him to think for himself. We tend to be very project based in our home school. I feel its important for my children to be able to think about things and to look beyond what they see. As my children get older, we lean towards more narration, note booking – work where we can see progress being made. As we progress through this course, we have the opportunity for just that.
“An INNOVATOR is someone who creates. In this experience you will learn how to think like some of the greatest innovators who have ever lived!
You will need the skills learned here for your other courses…and for life!”
When we first began this course we were greeted by Mr K. who gave us a tour of the virtual classroom. Following the tutorial we entered into How to Think Like an Innovator to really get you excited and encourage you to think like so many of the great inventors in history. Not sure what an innovator really is? Don’t worry – he makes sure to cover that too! This is where you learn the six steps of innovation (I love these!) and also define exactly what a problem is. I love how he turns the idea of a problem into something that isn’t scary or frustrating, but an exciting and fun opportunity!
Initially my son was quite confused, and a bit overwhelmed, with the idea of being an “innovator”. However as we worked through this introductory class and he gained a clearer understanding of things, I think I saw that lightbulb go on. He tends to be my creator boy; I knew when I saw this course really, this was something that could help to encourage and propel him forward in so many meaningful ways, with all that he creates. For the most part he completed this course independently; there were times I came over to see how it was going. Perhaps he was working on a project and needed extra eyes (Or his little brother wanted to see and try it for himself) and so I would watch a bit and share my two cents. I try to ask are questions, and direct less. Encourage him to think beyond; to find different “impossible possibilities” as he works. I have grown tired of being seen as a “teacher” and am slowly trying to move towards being more of a “mentor” as his education progresses.
A lot of times, when we are working through a course, my son will lose focus. He just loses that desire, the momentum is gone. I have to decide whether to force the issue of completing what we start, or allowing him to leave something unfinished. I will say right away that this was not the case at all with this class. In fact he has gone back and watched videos again and again. Slowly perusing each lesson. He has his course journal (this is something we printed out at the beginning of this course) and he has taken some great notes! Its encouraging that he will sit and watch; pause and write. Take off to go get toothpicks or paper and scotch tape (these are projects, or challenges, within the course). Throughout this whole course our kids are encouraged to expand their way of thinking; to exercise critical thinking and problem solving skills. To brainstorm and then brainstorm some more! The videos range from 3-5 minutes to 15-20 minutes but Mr K. really knows how to keep the kids focused. Lots of great information, bits of humor throughout (my son aspires to be a comedian I think!) and great visuals to help bring that focus back when if it starts to wane. He moves fast, but not too fast. Which is good for a kiddo like mine whose mind is always going and will give something up in a heartbeat if he doesn’t see the point. My son’s favorite part? How to make money as an innovator! Mine The daily/weekly brain exercise routine. Something my son definitely needed! Honestly, I think many of us need something like this.
Once we completed this program, we moved on to the course itself. Think Like an Engineer. It really was great timing, when we received this course. As part of our church’s Bible Quiz team, my husband has been designing and developing wireless buzzers for use in quiz tournaments. As he has been working on this, at home, our kids have been watching. Suffice to say, this course really introduced my oldest son (even my younger one) to engineering. What it is, what engineers do, and why it all matters. 3D Design, C.A.D is something my husband uses quite a bit; he was hoping our son would take an interest in it himself. This course really helped to give him a reason to. From rollercoasters to bridges and nano-engineering Mr K. shows how engineering is integral in many different aspects of life.
There are five units within this course; each unit consists of about 4-5 lessons. Each lesson includes a video; these are quite engaging. My oldest is a very visual learner. He prefers videos to books when it comes to learning and so this was great for him because he was able to see – even the concepts being discussed – whether it was a comic style drawing as the video taught or slides showing images and important vocabulary words or concepts for recall. Being that my oldest is quite the artist he even had to stop and try to do some of the sketches he saw in the videos too! Regardless of how much you know or don’t know about the topic at hand, you will leave this course feeling a sense of understanding, perhaps even mastery.
We all enjoyed the unit on 3D design; my husband knows all too well how important 3D computer design is in the field of engineering. We began by learning how to use the 123D Design software and then got the chance to use it to create ur own furniture and a car rim. And as a student in this class, there was the exciting opportunity for the student to advance their skills even more with program called Fusion 360 from Autodesk. This is a fabulous way to keep going and challenge yourself! Did I mention there are lots of great challenges for the student within this course? From engineering rollercoasters to bridges and even nano engineering there is just so much in this course for students to learn and do!
Do you think you could build a tower at least five feet tall out of only four sheets of paper and a one-foot strip of masking tape? The second is to design and build a structure that will support as many books as possible using only one sheet of paper and 24 inches of masking tape. Perhaps your student can design their own water filtration system or suspension bridge using just cardboard, string, popsicle sticks, and masking tape. There is even software for them to download so they can then design their own bridge.
This really is a wonderful way to introduce our students to various scientific and mathematic concepts. Mr K. does a great job of leading and mentoring student in these courses covering challenges that really are being faced in the world today. Throughout the course these challenges are given and our students are encouraged to think outside the box to come up with solutions. He uses lots of examples, true stories and videos – all of this helping students to see the possibilities with them, to be creators, innovators! These are a great addition to any homeschool program, excellent STEM education for students. I definitely recommend this program!