Category Archives: design/engineering

Clarifying What Engineering Education Means for K-12

The Opportunity Equationrecently posted a series of essays/discussions regarding engineering titled- The “E” in STEM: Clarifying What Engineering Education Means for K-12. This post provides a useful overview of the importance of teaching and learning engineering concepts in K-12 and describes some projects that have had success.

This article could be useful in a session of professional development on K-12 engineering or by a district team, school, grade level team looking to develop a deeper understanding of engineering.


Wired Science: Panorama of Every Mars Landing

Wired Science just posted an amateur-created panorama that shows the history of all six successful probe landings on Mars- from the Soviet Mars 3 probe in 1971 to the Viking probes in 1976 up to the more recent rovers. With the current excitement about Curiosity, I think it is important for students to understand the history of these other missions to the red planet.

Caine’s Arcade

Caine’s Arcade is the incredible story of a 9 year old boy who designs and builds an arcade using cardboard boxes and other “found” materials. The site is pretty amazing and you can see the touching short film about Caine (embedded below). The film has so many connections to STEM, social media, and just humanity in general… You can also donate to the Caine’s Arcade Scholarship fund if you choose as well as learn about the Cardboard Challenge. A great example for elementary students of the technological design process (engineering) in action. Highly recommended!

Update on Curiosity Rover from SciShow

Hank at SciShow posted a nice update on the Mars Rover Curiosity- The Latest from Mars Day 2

How to Get Started with PBL

Andrew Miller recently posted a clear and helpful article on the Edutopia site- Getting Started with Project-Based Learning (Hint: Don’t Go Crazy)

If you are thinking about dipping your toe in the water of PBL this year, then this article could provide you with some useful suggestions. My favorite resource from this article is the PBL Project Checklist– a simple but powerful tool from the Buck Institute for Education.

Top 5 Coolest Things about Curiosity- SciShow

I have really grown to love SciShow.. I’m not going to hide it. My admiration has only gown stronger with Hank’s unbridled excitement about the Mars Curiosity Rover. See embedded below- Top 5 Coolest Things about Curiosity. I think that middle school students would really be engaged by Hank’s presentation, style, and excitement for science topics. Would love to hear how you have used or plan to use SciShow clips with students.

Science of the Summer Olympics- NBC Learn

NBC Learn has partnered with the National Science Foundation to bring us Science of the Summer Olympics. This site focuses on the technology and engineering that supports athletes in increasing their performance. 10 videos will be posted over the course of the Olympics and videos include: Designing a Fast Pool, Missy Franklin and Fluid Dynamics, Engineering for Mobility, and others. The video stream from the NBC Learn site. NSTA will be posting lesson plans to accompany the videos. These were not easy to find… you will want to follow the NSTA Blog to see lesson plans- see the lesson plans for the Missy Franklin video HERE.

135 Shuttle Launches

Check out this amazing high definition video of all 135 space shuttle launches in one 3:55 minute clip. The video starts with synchronized countdowns from all the launches, beginning with STS-1 in April 1981 and ending with  the launch of Atlantis in July 2011.

Created by McLean Fahnestock.

How to Use a Paper Towel

This TED Talk- How to Use a Paper Towel- provides a useful solution for our paper towel problem (the one where we are using way too many paper towels). This video may not seem like it has a strong science connection- but I think it provides a very clear solution to an authentic human problem (technological design process). Plus, you probably won’t think about drying your hands the same way again.. shake… fold.

Can Robots Inspire Us To Be Better Humans?

This touching and engaging TEDxBerkeley Talk from Ken Goldberg makes me think of many things:

– The importance of “story” in giving a talk, presentation, lesson

– The misconception (that I may have) of robotics/engineering as being unrelated to philosophy, the arts, etc.

– STEM… and how it might be more than just the 4 letters in the acronym

Click HERE to watch on YouTube or see embedded below- enjoy