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SUSAN CARTER
First Place

K-2 | Math | Engineering

Station KETC in Missouri

My Classroom Innovation

My kindergarten class is interested in building with blocks and playing with legos. In order to make these choices more meaningful, this year I introduced engineering concepts to these play choices. Students watched kids on PBS make bridges out of candy and sticks. They watch clips of Design Squad to see how real kids can use principles of engineering to solve problems with building. Now instead of just building and knocking down, students make a plan with the end in mind. They create blueprints that the teacher must sign-off on before construction begins. Before I sign their blueprints, students must explain to me the purpose and use of their design and answer my questions about the plan. If they need to make changes as they are building, they also need to change the design on paper. At the end of the project, they explain to me how the plan matches the end result and tell about any problems they had with the design and how they were solved.

How Students were Engaged

Girls and boys in kindergarten have embraced engineering as an essential part of our mathematical learning. They transferred the knowledge gained from watching real people solve engineering problems to their own play situations. As kindergarten students solve problems through play, they expand their knowledge base. Play is the work of small children. By giving my students the opportunity to engage in smarter play activities they get to challenge their ideas about innovation and creativity in school. Sometimes they ask me to take a picture of their design and building so that they can recreate it later or add more another day. This extended learning helps students build knowledge from day to day instead of just experiencing isolated play sessions. Our engineering project has brought purpose to our play and excitement to our math class!

PBS Program/Content Used

Curious George, DesignSquad