Thinking Like an Engineer

POSTED BY The Wellington School ON March 30, 2017 IN

Lower school students brought the Alaskan Iditarod race closer to home in science class. First, students worked in pairs using the design thinking process to construct miniature sleds. They were given a budget and had to make hard decisions about how best to use their funds to purchase the supplies for their designs. Factoring in financial constraints, students followed the steps below as a prompt for generating ideas:

Ask: What is the problem?

Imagine: Brainstorm solutions

Plan: Draw a diagram, make lists of what supplies are needed and steps to take

Create: Follow your plan and create something, test it out

Improve: What works and what doesn’t?

After building their sleds, students gave them test runs on a teacher-created snow course. They were asked to consider the amount of friction their sled was causing and how could it be reduced to increase speed. Teachers Debra Parkes P ‘26 ‘28 and Nami Stager P ‘30 asked students to think like engineers to better understand the choices that professionals have to make when considering costs for their plans and the potential compromises they may have to make to achieve their ultimate goal.

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Lower School 3rd Grade Construct Iditarod Sleds

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