DYF Institute III: Engineering is Elementary – Monday

Posted in Dyf at 5:05 pm by Beth

Outline for the Day

  • Introductions
  • Pre-Assessment
  • Why teach engineering in K-12?
  • Expectations
  • Introduction to Engineering is Elementary curriculum
  • Designing Parachutes
  • Thursday Assignment
  • Reflection on Curriculum
  • Minute Paper


Participants were invited to watch this video before coming to the institute.

As folks signed in, they completed paperwork, including pre-assessments.

The DYF institute started by introducing the facilitators (Beth Eschenbach, Shanna Atherton, Erin Cearley, Allison Oakland and Richard Engel).  Julie Van Sickle, Redwood Science Project Co-Director was introduced.

Participants had the following expectations:

  • Creating a larger community of K-12 engineering educators in our region
  • Developing additional contacts, getting ideas and collaborating
  • New ideas
    • for labs
    • for classroom activities
  • Having FUN!
  • Learning about Engineering is Elementary and how to apply activities
  • How to incorporate math and science and problem solving with young students
  • Learn more about engineering and how to engage students in engineering
  • Support for teaching hands on science in Spanish

Beth then presented an overview of why it is important to teach engineering to K-12 students.   We tied engineering to local needs as described by the Decade of Difference project, based on the Targets of Opportunity.  We defined STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) and discussed national efforts to effectively use private funds  improve K-12 education – Change the Equation. We discussed the difference between science, engineering and technology.

We then started into the EIE Unit: A Long Way Down: Designing Parachutes.

We started with the Prep Lesson.  Teachers worked in groups and discussed a specific technology (purpose, materials etc).  Teachers also addressed the questions of what was a likely recent design improvement and what was an improvement that was needed.

For Lesson 1 we reviewed the book about Paulo.

For Lesson 2 we reviewed the handouts on the planets.

For Lesson 3 we first watched a golf ball fall in water and in air and discussed the concepts of atmosphere and drag.  We then had teachers work in three groups and explore the impact of the following items on the speed of a falling parachute.

  • line length
  • canopy size
  • canopy material

Cool Links



Teachers then reflected on the curriculum and considered what modifications might be necessary and what were possible barriers

Modifications discussed included

  • For older students require more data collection and the calculation of velocity
  • For younger students, just let them all design individually before asking them to work in groups.

Barriers discussed included

  • Younger students cannot read
  • Time – both classroom and prep
  • Teamwork skills need to be taught


Minute Paper

Most Important thing learned

  • My partner is excited about working together to teach science
  • It is critical to actually build stuff by a better understanding of how the world works.
  • Review of engineering process
  • Meeting participants
  • I learned that there are a lot of things that I can do with my kindergartners.
  • This class is going to be very valuable for me because I will have materials to take home with me.
  • We as educators need to foster a desire in the field of engineering in children.  Fewer students are choosing this field and there fore there are less engineers in the workfoce.  This will create a problem when the current engineers retire.
  • I learned how large the field of engineering is.  We went from thinking primarily of bridge design to a dozen different ideas.
  • Resources for teachers online.

Remaining Questions

  • Implementation! (3)
  • How to include engineering in K-12 in California?
  • I will need great ideas to change/modify for Kingergarten


  • I like that there is a curriculum to go with this!
  • Yahoo!
  • Thanks for all the preparation and planning.
  • Today has motivated me!
  • I loved making the parachute and conducting the experiment.
  • This was very fun, informative and low-pressure.  Thank you!

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