The Engineering Process

In my kids’ STEM class that I teach for ages 3 – 7, we dedicate one quarter to learning about engineering. One thing we cover is the engineering method.

We want to emphasize that it’s a process. It’s not just you do something once, exactly like the teacher tells you to, and then you’re done. Instead, it’s thinking first about what you want to do, then considering available supplies and brainstorming how you’ll use them, then starting to do hands-on work, knowing it might not work right the first time, but that’s OK, because you can always tweak it or re-build it. Our goal is to teach not just how to build the project of the day, but also a growth-based mindset approach to life – where they view themselves as competent, willing to take on a challenge, and learn from their mistakes. They learn that hard work and persistence will help them accomplish their goals.

We use a song to reinforce the engineering process. It’s our Inventors’ Lab Theme Song.

Look at Me, I’m Building and Inventing

Words by Peter and Janelle Durham. Tune: Bully in the Alley.  (tune here.)

(In our classroom, we end each verse with “Here at Inventor’s Lab.” You could end with “‘I’m an inventor now” or “I am an engineer.”)

Look at me, I’m building and inventing,
Way, hey, building and inventing
Look at me, I’m building and inventing,
I am an engineer.

There’s a challenge that I want to do
Way, hey, building and inventing
Here’s the process that I will go through
I am an engineer.

I brainstorm ideas from which to choose
Way, hey, building and inventing
I look for supplies that I can use
I am an engineer.

Now it’s time to build my innovation
Way, hey, building and inventing
As I work I get more inspiration
I am an engineer.

I test it out to see what’s wrong and then
Way, hey, building and inventing
I fix and tweak and do the test again
I am an engineer.

My work is done, the challenge has been met
Way, hey, building and inventing
I think it’s my best invention yet.
I am an engineer.

Look at me, I’m building and inventing,
Way, hey, building and inventing
Look at me, I’m building and inventing,
I am an engineer.

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