A School-wide Hands-on Engineering Design Process to Help All Living Things
Principal Nimmo said to her parents, “I am excited to share my plan with you for this year’s Invention Convention project. The theme is going to be “iInnovate: Glen Head Students Help Living Things.” This plan is quite a bit different from last year as all our students will be able to participate. Plus, all of the work will take place during the school day during a two-week period.”
On April 29th and May 1st, Principal Nimmo held grade level “kickoff” meetings to present the theme and explain the plan to all her students. She presented the idea that everyone will go through the Engineering Design Process and practice developing their skills in communication, collaboration, thinking, problem solving, innovating, and committing oneself to helping others. These main principles are known as the North Shore School District Shared Valued Outcomes (a.k.a. SVO’s.) Principal Nimmo said, “This process will begin with students asking questions and imagining what could be. Our theme, Helping Living Things, means that students will look at the world (e.g., people, animals, and plants) around them, develop a sense of empathy, and live curiously by seeking problems that occur. Students will record these problems in a memo pad that will be provided.” She encouraged her parents and caretakers to engage with their children in conversations at home to stimulate ideas. Additionally, she encourages her students to speak to senior citizens, disabled individuals, or to observe pets and wildlife.
On May 8, teachers conducted a “Classroom Launch” where students reviewed all of the problems that they previously recorded in their pads. They then focused on a handful of problems. GH students eventually selected one problem and developed several solutions “by imagining what could be” and planned to bring their ideas to life.
During the week of May 15th, students were encouraged to engage in the remaining steps of the Engineering Design Process which included: creating, experimenting, improving upon the prototype and repeating these steps as needed.
During this two-week period, the instructional schedule was altered to allow all students the time to truly focus on their ideas in an authentic way. Initially, teachers planned walking trips to observe living things around us in the environment and in school, as well as, visited the Gold Coast Library to conduct research. Students also worked in small groups, large groups, or independently. Principal Nimmo added, “The entire process was truly an innovation in progress. Experts came to school and met with groups of students who conducted research on a common topic. Experts included parents, friends, and an Eagle Scout who had expertise that could be shared by presenting a mini-workshop during the school day. Additionally, parent Ambassadors from most classes served as liaisons between classroom teachers and our parents. They shared information “in the moment.”
Some examples of the hands-on, student created iInnovate projects included Rockin Rollerz (a dog wheelchair), Blanket Buddies (to help parents of twins, triplets, and quads carry blankets, snacks, or toys for multiple children at one time), Need-A-Hand (extra pair of hands for people who use canes), Wheel-O-Back (a gadget to help wheelchair bound individuals carry their things), Plantastic (a system to keep plants and vegetables watered), Walk Harness (a harness worn by pets that holds food and water that can be accessed during a walk), Triple Trasher (a system to store litter and hold bags that dog owners can use while walking dogs so they can clean up after them), Speak Up! (a button that can be pushed when someone is being bullied), Shut it Down (an app that shuts phones off when the user is on it for a long period of time), Plant Feeder/Protector, and Cleaner Rides (a system that allows subway riders to place their garbage in a receptacle).
Principal Nimmo concluded by saying, “We hope that you enjoyed this learning experience with us!” All of the Glen Head iInovations will on display on June 1st. Classes and parents can visit on June 2nd and June 5th.
Article written by Shelly Newman with assistance from Principal Nimmo. Photos by Shelly Newman
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