I’m surrounded – by engineers! My father, my husband, our two grown sons – so with potentally more engineers still waiting in the wings I was super excited to get the chance to try Thinking Like an Engineer from Innovators Tribe. It’s just what this family needs to help prepare for the future.
Innovators Tribe is an online curriculum site that is designed for middle school and high school students and presented in such a way as to bring critical thinking skills, innovation, technical skills and problem solving all together using a hands-on approach. This course was easy enough to get started with – I let my 13 and 15 year old boys set up their account and even install a 3D software design program in order to work some of the lessons.
I’ve asked our 8th grader to use this as an elective in his homeschooling course this winter. He is intrigued by engineering concepts but tends to be more on the creative artsy side of things as compared to the science/tech side of things. We figured these lessons will help us meet several goals – 1) Is the science/math/tech area a poor choice or possibly a better choice for him as he makes choices about future career? 2) He’ll gain exposure to areas he’s never considered. 3) He’ll better understand terminology and concepts his brothers and father often discuss. (Family bonding, eh?) 4) He’ll have a more balanced education by adding this type of course into his schooling.
Rather than intense, rigid lessons, the instructor, Wayne Kroeplin, (also known as Mr. K) encourages team work and group participation. I really appreciated this because we saw first hand how much our college boys learned by working with their fellow classmates on group projects and in study groups. These are invaluable lessons that will take them a long way in life.
Lessons are accessible via our computer anytime, and at a pace that works for us. The video lessons are online, but assignments and projects are done offline. There are six units covering these topics:
- Intro to Engineering
- Intro to 3D Design
- Engineering Rollercoasters
- Engineering Bridges
- Nano Engineering
- Thinking Like an Engineer – Course Conclusion
Within each unit there are several lessons, journal pages to download for use as an ongoing log and also challenge assignments to put the lessons into practice and/or get their creative and innovative juices flowing. These give them the opportunity to put the problem solving skills to work and to build critical thinking skills. They learn a lot from cause and effect – when one idea doesn’t work, try try again!
My 8th grader logs in 3 or 4 times a week and immediately is taken to the lesson where he left off. We have been letting him work and explore through the lessons at his own pace. Now, after several weeks, I am noticing he tends to spend time with the ‘fun’ activities and is a little too quick to move on from the lessons he finds more difficult. I’m not concerned, though. We are going back to re-cap things and give attention to what didn’t sink in. By letting him explore and go through lessons in his own way, he’s hooked. Much better than Mom assigning things in a strict, formal manner, which would most assuredly turned him off. Now, his interest is peeked and he wants to know more, do more, be challenged more.
To complete the lessons in Thinking Like an Engineer you’ll need a computer, a printer for the journal pages, paper, and a few items you probably have around the house (like tape.) A quick survey of the lessons and syllabus will give you an idea of what the student will need. )
This program far exceeds our expectations, both in the material presented and in the way it is presented. My husband has worked with 3-D software and has spent many years in the design and engineering field. He believes this course lays a good foundation and gives exposure to engineering sciences in an excellent manner. He’s having as much fun as our son! The 13 year old says his favorite part of everything so far is the 3-D modeling. He’s been amazed at how he can think up something simple like a wheel or a table, then draw it, then view it in 3 dimensional views. It’s like his ideas are popping out of the computer screen!
There has been a big push recently to implement STEM programs and projects. Innovators Tribe provides a high-quality, in-depth option for this area. With 30 hours of work, this will easily earn 1/4 of high school credit. Besides the Thinking Like an Engineer course we are using, there is also a course called Thinking Like an Architect available which looks really fantastic! And this week I have great news! You can purchase through Saturday 11/11/17 for only $96.00 (after that it will return to it’s regular price of $149.00) A great value for something that covers important subject areas for multiple children of a variety of ages.
My fellow crewmates are using these Innovators Tribe courses, too – click on the image below and see how they like using them in their homeschool.