The goal of the "Gear Up" engineering component of the STREAM initiative is to allow students to explore the engineering design process as they tackle challenges directly related to the curriculum.
The students of St. John Vianney School tested out many of these design briefs in a school-wide "Gear Up for Engineering Day." Classroom teachers chose a challenge for their students to work on, and the entire school participated at the same time.
"We wanted all of the teachers and students to test out the engineering design briefs so that we can integrate them within the curriculum next year," says SJV's STREAM Coordinator Brittany Sparks. "The students really enjoyed the challenge and were able to get very creative."
The engineering design briefs present students with a challenge, such as to create a boat that can float on water for five minutes. They are given several criteria for their design as well as a list of approved materials. Students then plan out their designs, build them, test them, and revise as necessary, all while recording their observations and findings.
"It is so important to encourage our students to be problem solvers and to take initiative. Teachers are not allowed to create prototypes or tell students how to solve their design challenge: it is all student-directed with the teachers acting as facilitators," says Sparks.
The goal of the STREAM initiative is to prepare students for 21st-century careers, and the Gear Up engineering challenges are an important tool for teaching students to be creative and explore solutions to problems.