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Facilitating an Elementary Engineering Design Process Module


"STEM education in elementary school is guided by the understanding that engineering represents the application of science and math concepts to make life better for people. The Engineering Design Process (EDP) guides the application of creative solutions to problems. Helping teachers understand how to apply the EDP to create lessons develops a classroom where students are engaged in solving real world problems by applying the concepts they learn about science and mathematics. This article outlines a framework for developing such lessons and units, and discusses the underlying theory of systems thinking. A model lesson that uses this framework is discussed. Misconceptions regarding the EDP that children have displayed through this lesson and other design challenge lessons are highlighted. Through understanding these misconceptions, teachers can do a better job of helping students understand the system of ideas that helps engineers attack problems in the real world. Getting children ready for the 21st century requires a different outlook. Children need to tackle problems with a plan and not shrivel when at first, they fail. Seeing themselves as engineers will help more underrepresented students see engineering and other STEM fields as viable career options, which is our ultimate goal."