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Engineering in Enrichment

Engineering in Enrichment

If you walked past Mrs. Hall’s class this week, you might have stopped to take a second look at what her busy second graders were doing. Marshmallows, spaghetti, toothpicks - are these the tools of engineers? For these imaginative students, they are!

In Mrs. Hall’s Enrichment class, kindergarten through second grade students develop 21st century skills, and classroom content is enhanced for higher-level learning. In this case, second graders were challenged to build a bridge using the Engineering Design Process. To introduce the project, the students watched a video on the basics of bridges. Then, Mrs. Hall explained their challenge and split students into teams to brainstorm and sketch their plans. Once they were ready, they used dry spaghetti, marshmallows, toothpicks, dixie cups, straws and paperclips to create a bridge. 

Using unique materials and an out-of-the-box challenge, students interacted with a real-world situation. Mrs. Hall explained how this project fostered thinking critically in many different ways. “Students applied their real-world knowledge of bridges to design their sketch. Then they collaborated with teammates by listening and sharing ideas in order to determine which ideas would work best for this challenge.” She continued, “When a design did not work, students learned from their failure by rethinking the design in order to solve the problem.” 

This hands-on lesson ended with reflection, an important skill for learners of all ages. The second graders thought back on the challenge, what worked and what didn't, what was hard and what was easy, using critical thinking to apply what they had learned. 

These students may never look at marshmallows and spaghetti the same way again!