Tracking Engineering Skills Over Time

I am trying to think of a good way to track engineering skills over time.  I will be tracking this year’s K class as they progress to sixth grade.  Is there a task I can give them that will work over all these years?  I thought making a chair (from the Tufts CEEO first grade lesson) but could it involve robots later?  Ideally, it was be the same or similar so we could easily see the changes but what would work over such a long time and such a change in development?

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3 Responses to Tracking Engineering Skills Over Time

  1. While I’m not (yet) doing a study over years of time, this school year has morphed into a study of 3rd, 4th, & 5th grade “above average” students in my resource room pullout enrichment program. Somehow we got to talking about Rube Goldberg Contraptions and now each class is trying to learn about simple machines, how to get from here to there, AND get along with each other. Rule of my class is All for One (YOU) & One (YOU) for All. The goal is to participate in the Goob Roldberg Fair (Show off for parents) in spring. Rules are you must create whatever on a 36 X 48 piece of pegboard base (so it’ll be movable). Clean out closets, drawers, garage & bring in stuff! Must have at least 10 steps and use each of 7 simple machines at least once. No animals or hazardous parts allowed. Goal is to fill my picnic basket (with nerf balls). I provide the base, the basket and balls. Right now we are exploring with K’nex, Dominos, Legos (motorized, not NXT, yet), Zome, & Uberstix. Each class has a crate with poles with which to make marble run prototypes. Oh, and the artistic ones are being encouraged to draw what they are finding out, Goldberg-style, for the brochure for the fair. There’s bunches of Goldberg contraptions on YouTube and Bill Nye has some great video about simple machines. We film every time they have a success and hopefully will be able to create something dynamic. Sorry, too much info just to suggest you might consider a Rube Goldberg Contraption as a yearly project.

  2. Peter Hoh says:

    Found your blog by following a link from the LEGO Engineering Google group.

    Interesting problem. Do you give an engineering design challenge in September and the same design challenge the following May? Your results may be skewed because in May, they’re doing a challenge have already experienced.

    If you give them a different challenge in May, how can you determine that the two challenges are roughly equivalent?

    And what should you be looking for? The number of ideas generated in brainstorming would be easily quantifiable. If the challenge was to design a catapult, for instance, you could compare outcomes by measuring the resulting throws. But I would also want to evaluate how well the students engaged in the engineering process, and that would seem more difficult to quantify.

    • JohnHeffernan says:

      Thanks for writing, Peter. The idea was to give a yearly task to show growth (or not) over time as they experience our main robotics/engineering curriculum every year. Specifically, how do their engineering design skills change as they get older and get more experience. Thanks for the ideas about quantifying some of this.

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