STEM and the Engineering Design Process – A Lesson Plan
How STEM Can Help You Teach Problem Solving
There’s no doubt that the principles learned in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)-based subjects can lead to valuable life skills. Engineering in particular offers students an outstanding medium for hypothesizing, brainstorming, and testing solutions to real-world problems—something they will be doing the rest of their lives.
Thankfully, there are ample resources for teaching problem solving using science and engineering-based subject matter. One particularly useful—and effective—model is called the Engineering Design Process (EDP).
What is the Engineering Design Process?
The Engineering Design Process, developed by the Museum of Science in Boston, is a simple outline that guides students through engineering design challenges. It includes five steps that are easy for children to remember and understand.
The Five Steps of the EDP
Engineering Design Process
- Ask—What is the problem? How have others approached it? What are your constraints?
- Imagine—What are some solutions? Brainstorm ideas. Choose the best one.
- Plan—Draw a diagram. Make lists of materials you will need.
- Create—Follow your plan and create something. Test it out!
- Improve—What works? What doesn’t? What could work better? Modify your designs to make it better. Test it out!
The Advantage of Teaching EDP in the Classroom
Teaching the EDP is an especially effective way of adding STEM learning to the classroom, with many learning advantages for students, including:
- Hands-on problem-solving activities that have real-world relevance
- Integration of STEM into non-STEM subjects, especially art and design
- Use of industry-standard software, tools, and procedures
- Increased awareness of STEM fields and occupations, especially among underrepresented populations
- Enthusiasm about further STEM-related learning
- Connections between in-school and out-of-school learning opportunities
- Industry and higher-ed partnerships that encourage hands-on student exploration of STEM-related careers
- Teachers who are demonstrating and proactively building deep STEM-related content knowledge
See the Engineering Design Process in Action
One fun classroom lesson that fully explores the potential of the EDP involves building maglev trains. In this activity, students follow the EDP outline to design and build levitating magnet vehicles.
This video is one of many professional learning videos on Edivate that showcase some of the best STEM-related practices in education today. For more videos like this, log in to Edivate and type “STEM” in the search box.
This video comes with a downloadable study guidebook that includes a complete plan for teaching the maglev train lesson in your own classroom.
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