1. Deborah Hecht
  2. Evaluator
  4. The Graduate Center, CUNY
  1. David Burghardt
  2. Principal Investigator
  4. Hofstra University

Wise Guys and Gals

NSF Awards: 1422436

2016 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6, Grades 6-8, Informal / multi-age

Our video focuses on key questions: What is Children’s Engineering? How is it connected to the practice of engineering? It explores how children and practicing engineers create and shape the human made world. The video further illustrates that the same habits of mind—optimism, collaboration, creativity and STEM knowledge—apply, the contexts are different.

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Original Discussion from the NSF 2016 STEM For All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Colleen Lewis

    Colleen Lewis

    May 16, 2016 | 11:49 a.m.

    I think the description of “what is engineering” and “what is children’s engineer” is really helpful! I was looking at your website to learn more:
    - Is all of the content online? Or are there hands-on activities for the kids?
    - You menetion that “Learning Facilitators are not content providers, but rather provide a safe learning environment for the activity to occur.” Can you say more about their role and what they do?
    - The category of “Habits of mind” (i.e., Optimism, Collaboration, Creativity, and STEM Knowledge) seems very broad. How did you pick the construct of “habits of mind”? It seems like the things included are more expansive than that.
    Thanks! I’m excited to see more from the project as you move forward!
    - Colleen

  • Icon for: David Burghardt

    David Burghardt

    May 16, 2016 | 12:13 p.m.

    We created Children’s Engineering to help people understand why the habits of mind and the problem solving strategies of practicing engineers are essential elements of Children’s Engineering. This material comes directly from work with the National Academy of Engineering. The Wise Guys and Gals project uses Children’s Engineering as its underlying pedagogical foundation, hence the importance to the project. The video is not about the project itself, but to the larger issue of why engineering design pedagogy is an engaging STEM practice, one that we are employing.

  • May 21, 2016 | 11:14 a.m.

    Videos like these that begin to illustrate what K-12 engineering is are a wonderful resource for educators in and out of school who haven’t been exposed to engineering education and are struggling when introducing it to students, children, and youth. Do you have any companion videos that dig deeper into each of the engineering practices that you introduce in this video? Also, on your website, I believe it says that you have used this resource and others in informal education settings. Would you say a bit more about how you have approached working with the B&GC staff to help them develop the confidence, awareness, knowledge, and skills related to engineering education that they need to facilitate the activities with the youth they serve?

  • Icon for: Barry Fishman

    Barry Fishman

    May 17, 2016 | 03:15 p.m.

    I really like your project! But I have a question about how to make engineering relevant for students. The constraints in the example student project “design a scale model of a building that uses at least 3 attached geometric solids with a total volume…” doesn’t feel particularly “real world” to me. Am I just wrong about this? How “real” or “authentic” do projects have to feel to be motivating for students?

  • Icon for: David Burghardt

    David Burghardt

    May 17, 2016 | 04:03 p.m.

    Barry, this design activity worked amazingly well. We used digital fabrication to create the models. So, the context for students and youth is different than it is for adults. There is a video created by one of the teachers that highlights this at http://www.hofstra.edu/Academics/Colleges/SEAS/... .

  • Icon for: Barry Fishman

    Barry Fishman

    May 17, 2016 | 04:05 p.m.

    Thanks for clarifying, David. I wasn’t really concerned about the success of this activity – I’m really asking about how important authenticity is for students in this work.

  • Icon for: Cullen White

    Cullen White

    May 19, 2016 | 02:40 a.m.

    This is really fascinating. As a CS instructor, I feel like I was implicitly leveraging a similar approach as I asked my students to solve programming problems. In addition to the design activity that is mentioned above, what are some other examples of student projects that have been implemented?

  • Icon for: David Burghardt

    David Burghardt

    May 19, 2016 | 12:34 p.m.

    There are several examples, of course, and one using Scratch. Basically the purpose of the challenge is to have children apply the knowledge they learned for the challenge, we call these Knowledge and Skill Builders (KSBs), so the challenge serves as a motivation for learning about STEM content. For instance, in a programming activity we challenge children to design a scenario where two sprits interact (perhaps a soccer player, goalie and ball). They learn the programming needed with KSBs and apply their knowledge with their solution to the design challenge. We do not employ ‘gadgeteering’, but rather purposeful knowledge acquisition, modeling what engineers and computer scientists do.

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