It’s safe to say almost everything human-made was created by an engineer. Engineers and their skills are in high demand across many sectors from manufacturing to the finance industry. Engineering education is important in this day and age to engage youth with engineering concepts but to also help them develop the problem-solving skills that all engineers develop throughout their training. The ability to think through complex problems, collaborate with others, communicate human-needs, and persevere through failures are also important skills that are developed through Engineering Education. To learn more about engineering and it’s importance to our society read this great article by David Willetts of the Huffington Post. Our children and students shouldn’t have to wait until undergrad to start exploring engineering as a career path and build these skills that will be important to their future. Here are 5 tips to engage your child with engineering at any age:
- Tell them what engineering is. A lot of students may have heard of an engineer and have heard of people who are engineers. However, the word “engineering” is a broad term and covers a wide range of career paths and skills. If your child has not had this conversation before, this will be a good place to start. Try using this checklist to guide your discussion:
- An engineer is someone who designs, builds, or maintains machines, engines, structures, and even the environment. They help create everything around us.
- Try showing them this great video by Crash Course Kids: What’s An Engineer?
- Brainstorm some objects you and your child like to use everyday and discuss how an engineer helped design it
- Explain that engineers don’t just build structures and machines, there are a lot of different types of engineers. There are so many types of engineers that it’s hard to keep track. Try to brainstorm some with your child, and tell them the proper name if they can’t come up with it. Some different types of engineers include: Structural Engineers, Civil Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Chemical Engineers, Environmental Engineers, Manufacturing Engineers, Systems Engineers, and Material Scientists. I love this site for your child to explore all the different types of engineers: DiscoverE (on a tablet) or EGFI – K12 (if on a computer or tablet that allows flash resources).
- Explain the Engineering Design Process and that it allows them to solve many problems. The Engineering Design Process is a step-by-step process that engineers use to solve complex problems. Helping your child understand each stage of the process and the purpose of each stage will help them understand how engineers solve complex problems. This resource from Teaching Engineering.Org is my go-to reference for the Engineering Design Process. Try talking through each process with your child or go a step further and try the “Design of Things” Unit on STEM Village – you can find it in the Discovery Section of your dashboard once you sign-up!
- Find out what topics interest them and explore. Whatever concepts grab your child’s attention, I’m sure an engineer is behind it in some way shape or form. Try asking your child what they like or what interests them in school or the world around them. Then, ask them, “How does this connect to engineering? Did an engineer make that or help solve that problem?”
- Try it out for yourself! There are so many amazing resources out there that will give your child the opportunity to take the reigns and live the life of an engineer. The STEM Village Content Team aims to be “in-the-know” of all of the best resources available so we can help you build the best learning path for your child or students. They created a list of their favourite engineering games that you can find in the “Top Resources Lists” section of our blog, but you can always use this link here: Top 6 Engineering Education Resources. If your child likes those games they will love the “Design of Things” Discovery Unit in the STEM Village app!
If you want to get your kids or students engaged with STEM education in a fun and effective way, please visit STEM Village to learn more and start a free trial today.
This article was written by Erin Carmody, an experienced educator, consultant, and Content Manager at STEM Village.