At ProjectEngin, we view the inclusion of Engineering Design practices and thinking in STEM classes as being a critical component in the development of creative and collaborative problem solving skills. But very few problems occur in isolation and even fewer solutions are free of negative impacts. The students who are in our classrooms today are facing a highly networked world full of both amazing potential and enormous challenges.
They will need to work together to develop new ideas, products, and ways of doing things. And just as importantly, they will need to understand the people and places that are impacted by both the problems and the solutions. STEM skills are important, but global view and systems thinking are critical if solutions and innovations are to be effective and sustainable. The goal of education has always been to help young people lead meaningful lives. However, it has become increasingly clear that education itself needs to be redefined to include the development of skills, not just the delivery of information. Veronica Mansilla of Harvard’s ProjectZero and the Asia Society’s Anthony Jackson cite the ability to identify and explain issues of global significance, along with the ability to generate solutions, as being critical to education in this interconnected world.
EngineerGOOD curricular projects feature all three key components of a 21st century education at the center: creative problem-solving, global competency, and systems thinking. They embrace a model of project-based learning that tackles authentic global challenges based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Students follow the Engineering Design Process to generate solutions and prototypes designed for a specific location. Allowing students to choose specific end-users in the context of a larger, global issue encourages an understanding of culture and increased engagement. Instead of learning about problems, students focus on solutions. By including a focus on suitable, small-scale technology, students are able to consider their solution as part of a larger system and to consider both positive and negative effects.
Young people cannot envision or design a desalination plant to supply water to an entire country, but they can develop simple filtration devices for a small village in Kenya or Bangladesh. They may not be able to plan and connect a large scale solar array to the grid, but they can combine small (pico) PV panels with rechargeable batteries and LEDs to create a light to do homework by anywhere in the world. We believe that today’s students can engineer a better future, one place, one project at a time. But to fully realize their potential, we need to re-engineer the learning experiences that they have today.
Contact ProjectEngin to learn more.