Why teach engineering to kids? It’s all about THE PROCESS. In this case, the Engineering Design Process, who teaches a basic way of operating that can be applied to just about any endeavor. If your child attends a STEM or STEAM Camp and hasn’t been taught the EDP, he or she will miss a wonderful opportunity to learn a long-lasting and valuable life skill!
This EDP is basically a chain of steps that engineers follow to come up with an answer to a problem. It highlights a clear path for them to follow, which helps to create a logical sequence on how to attack simple or complex problems…whether those be a technological innovation or a better way to tie your shoes. (Sounds like a skill we can all use.)
What are the Steps for The EDP?
The EDP is a cyclical process that begins by identifying the problem we want to solve. We then imagine a solution to the problem. This helps us brainstorm different ways the issue can be resolved. Following that is planning out a way to carry out the imagined solution. At STEAM Revolution Camp, we’ll be using the EDP in many aspects of our activities; from the weekly collaboration project to the Wacky Idea Lab….let’s start by identifying WHAT WE NEED TO FIX. Before we dig in, let’s talk about what we think we need to do and let’s get it down on paper as either a description or a drawing.
The next step in the EDP is to create a model. This allows for the engineer to work their thought process in a tangible way. As campers, we will present these models to each other and discuss our ideas with our peer group. Then begins the testing and tweaking. From there, the cycle begins again until we get ourselves to the improvement stage. At camp, we review student designs at these stages in a group discussion and always ask the all-important question: “What did you do to improve your design?” The majority of us believe that we have to be successful at whatever we do on the first try. That’s not often the case and through this thinking we also miss the power of collaboration. This is one of the most important aspects of summer learning: to allow yourself time to succeed through open, non-graded, collaborative and exploratory effort.