This year I am inspiring my engineering students by creating a unit about the Olympics. In the end they will invent earbud holders for their final project. But for the process of teaching them about engineering in general, what engineers do, the process of inventing new products, and the different kinds of engineers, I chose an Olympic theme this year, and it has been a blast. I found some great videos sponsored by the National Science Foundation that I have been able to incorporate into my unit.
For the Engineering the Olympics Unit Plan, I started off by having the classes define “Engineering” in a Linot, a great sticky app. The final definition was added to the Unit Plan after the classes decided on it. Once we realized that Engineering was “solving problems” it was really interesting to watch the videos and discuss the Olympics. We talked about the engineering of the clothing for the winter games and the students researched how “drag” changes depending on fabric and textiles. The students learned about the engineering design process and figured out how the olympic engineers used it to solve problems to help the athletes compete in the games.
My Flipped Model
In Google Classroom, I create a slide deck that I share with my classes. I add slides as the unit progresses. In the slide deck, I have all my resources. I have videos, worksheets, links, screen casts that I produce, and instructions. My students know to open the Unit Plan, as I call it. They turn in notes, worksheets, and projects into Google Classroom per. the instructions in the Unit Plan. This allows the students who are absent or who need to watch a video or lesson more often or more slowly, to do so on their own. Students who move faster, can move on to the next lesson. Many students work at home on these Unit Plans. I can see them logged into the slide deck. Another advantage of the Unit Plan slide deck, is that it can change and adapt and grow. The students often contribute to the lessons, and I love to take their input and add it right into the plan. If a student finds a good video or article for the class to read, for example, I can post it in the plan. This creates a lot of buy-in to the Unit.
The plan can be shared with other teachers, saved and adapted for other terms, levels and content.
Check back in a week for more on the progress of Engineering the Olympics!