There is nothing worse than a child who is not inspired to learn. My oldest son is quite the enigma lately. He is bright and his mind works in amazing ways; he is fast and intuitive but also super impulsive and very stubborn (dare I say a rebellious?) so we have been in a rather interesting season around here lately. Because he is such a creative young man, and eager to “be in charge of himself” it was quite a blessing to have the chance to review Thinking Like an Engineer from Innovators Tribe.
Innovator’s Tribe offers two courses students recommended for students in grades 6-12 designed to help them learn how to become real life problem solvers: Thinking Like and Engineer and Thinking Like an Architect. My husband thought it was great that there was a program like this out there (he is an engineer; our younger son people call the little engineer) to help encourage and teach about this amazing field of study. And I have to say the more we completed of this course, the more amazed I was because I never thought “engineer” encompassed so much! It is more than we ever imagined. For my totally out of the box learner, this was a course that shoed him how endless the possibilities truly are. Each course is about 30 hours long (this includes activities) and the student can go as quickly or as slowly as they like. This is all good for a full year, from the date of purchase too.
Thinking Like an Engineer starts out by teaching about the various types of engineering that are out there. And there are a ton of different ones to learn about.This program also includes a 3D CAD design program for students to use for a number of activities. Wayne Kroeplin (creator) known as Mr. K., guides students through every step of the course, encouraging them (he is so excited and enthusiastic) to become an innovative thinker! He even begins the class with a mini-course to help prepare our students for some real out of the box experiences. As my son likes to say, have to get the creative juices flowing.
This course includes:
- Introduction to Engineering
- Introduction to 3D Design (tools of modern design; includes CAD software for download)
- Engineering Rollercoasters
- Engineering Bridges
- Nano Engineering (Discovery of a New World)
Right now my son requires a lot of prodding to complete any “work” he needs to do but I can find him with a hot glue gun and tons of cut up cardboard, creating a new suit or sword of some sort. Worksheets are found covered in 3D doodles; mythical creatures and ninjas … Ironically when we began this course, he was totally uninterested – he even informed me that the challenges were “impossible.” Thankfully this course includes some teachings on what a problem really is AND how to come up with great solutions. Now I have to admit, this first challenge, I thought the same thing but there was no way I was going to say it. All he needed was two feet of masking tape and a piece of paper. Certainly sounds impossible right? Silly boy – nothing is impossible! 😛
HE DID IT! 😀 😀 😀
There are just so many things that are so good about this course. The 14 Grand Engineering Challenges bring real life issues alive; the value of reverse engineering in solving some of these issues that scientists today are working to solve. Virtual reality – my boys both love this since a local museum has recently begun to offer this – game design is something my son is very interested in. He not only loves to game but he loves to find ways to create via graphic design, computer coding, hacking – All of these things are very much a part of engineering. And he gets to see how it all comes together through Mr K.’s teaching.
A super handy, and the simplest of things, are the unit journals. These are such new concepts and while they are taught in a way that makes them easy to understand, it is always good to have notes. This journal helps them to work through and remember some of those important details. Some of the things are simple: What does CAD stand for? Other assignments require more in depth thought: research something you enjoy and see how engineering is a part of it. Music, sound is quite the thing for my drummer boy – so he was really in awe of how these two things have so much to do with one another. So often, he admits, he doesn’t enjoy math or science because he just doesn’t see WHY it matters. That is changing as he is working through this course. With teaching and experiences made available to him that incorporate so much math and science, in a way that is tangible and personal. It all matters just a bit more to him now. This momma will joyfully accept that as a starting place to getting that fire going again in him.
I think my favorite part of this would be the research projects and challenges within the lessons. What better way to make the lessons being learned stick, then by using these concepts to create something amazing! You can see all the details as well as a syllabus and materialists list for both classes on the Innovators Tribe website.
Don’t all of these look like fun?My oldest son is hoping to have the chance to complete the Architect class and my younger son, he really wants to do the carpentry class since he is our little woodworker. He hopes this could help him to build the table he has been wanting to build for awhile now. He already built a birdhouse and a helicopter with his own wood and tools – My husband calls him our little engineer. 😛
We are building roller coasters and bridges. We are looking at real problems and learning how to brainstorm real solutions. This course is so full of wonderful little wisdoms that our children need to learn. In my humble opinion this is one of those programs that everyone needs. Because you cannot just complete the tasks but you have to get outside of yourself and you have to be willing to do something different. Isn’t that how things really happen? When I think of Great Inventions or amazing world changing events in the history every one of those things happened because someone knew how to think differently.This is real learning. It is active, it is alive, it has meaning.