Just over two years ago we launched our Think Like an Engineer project with a special event led by Professor Danielle George – highlights from which can be found on the Home page.
The aim of our project was to introduce Engineering Habits of Mind into our curriculum thereby encouraging children to adopt a creative problem-solving approach to their learning.
Step by Step
We did this gradually at first . . .
We gave each child an Engineering Log book into which we asked them to record their ideas, designs and reflections – just like real engineers. Teachers were encouraged to talk about Engineering Habits of Mind wherever possible within their lessons, so that the language became familiar to the children.
To keep the momentum going, we held regular whole school Engineering Days where we invited parents and engineers to work alongside their children. Our most recent event involved the RAF who came to help us make and launch gliders, which you can read about in last month’s blog.
Every half-term, we introduced what we call a Big Tinker, where classes across the school focused on an engineering task for the morning or afternoon. There are plenty of ideas for one off activities to be found now on the Internet.
We then started to fit engineering into our other lessons, such as Literacy, Science, History and Maths. KS1 teachers particularly, chose class texts that lent themselves to engineering activities.
Although measuring the quantifiable impact of our project has been difficult, we would argue that there have been a number of notable outcomes:
- Resilience has increased significantly across the school. Children try noticeably harder in tests and leave fewer questions unanswered. They are much more prepared to ‘have a go’, as failure is just considered as a step on the way towards a successful result.
- Communication skills have developed. Our children are articulate and able to talk to adults fluently, using precise language.
- Girls’ confidence has been boosted. They now have a greater belief that they can do anything the boys can do.
Where to begin?
Starting the journey is certainly not easy. Maths and English results will always be a main priority; however, with Ofsted now favouring a ‘broad, rich and deep’ curriculum this may be the ideal time to introduce Engineering into schools. The question is: Where to begin, when teachers are already stretched to the limits?
Thanks to Cheshire East Highways our Log books have been made available to selected schools in Cheshire East. And, last week we held a major event to both showcase the work we have been doing at Rode Heath and launch our new Cross Curricular Civil Engineering resource, that has been sponsored by The ERA Foundation.
This is a series of 12 double-sided A4 cards designed to support teachers on their engineering journey, by providing ready-made activities which will integrate into the existing curriculum. The aim is for teachers to use them as a starting point, enabling initial pieces of work to be recorded into the Engineering Log books.
On Thursday 6th December, we were delighted to welcome 35 teachers, representing 14 local schools to our Twilight Event, as well as 6 Cheshire East Highways engineers – all interested in helping to promote our project.
After a short introduction, the teachers were invited to talk to our pupils, who were demonstrating a selection of the activities that they had been involved in – some of which were taken directly from the new curriculum pack.
There were a number of zones around the school to investigate: Engineering Days, Big Tinkers, Technology Zone, Literacy Zone & Cross-curricular Zone.
The children communicated brilliantly, explaining their activities articulately and with great confidence. Indeed, we had been overwhelmed by number of them wanting to stay behind after school to share. Overall, the evening was a huge success, with the visiting teachers very impressed by what they had seen, and hopefully inspired to start the process themselves.
Thank you to all the children, Rode Heath staff and Cheshire East Highways engineers who made the event possible.