Applying Math, Science and Engineering Principles to Idea Creation Techniques

PROJECTHINK

Pine View teacher Laura Bradley wanted to apply math, science and engineering principles in designing a more innovative approach to lessons that would help her third-grade students create new and worthwhile ideas while collaborating to solve various cross-curricular problems.

Students responded enthusiastically and brainstormed original and inventive concepts including using Model Magic to sculpt a pencil topper designed as a realistic flower; taking a digital camera home to capture and share geometry in daily life; building and launching rockets to learn about energy transference; using a self-portrait activity to learn the concept of symmetry; and reading the Paul Bunyan folk tale, then designing and building a wagon to carry his gigantic knapsack.

With EducateSRQ grant funds, Bradley purchased art supplies, games and puzzles, learning kits, and items such as rare earth disc magnets and kinetic sand to stock her classroom’s “fab lab.” Students then used the supplies to construct and implement their ideas, which they presented to classmates to solicit input and feedback.

“This approach to creative problem-solving helps students learn to be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives and helps to instill an understanding that creativity and innovation are part of a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes,” Bradley said.

In addition to further instilling essential math, science and engineering principles, the innovative lessons provided practice in critical thinking skills such as teamwork, creative thinking, comprehension, and leadership development.

“While carrying out these collaborative and motivational activities, I saw two of my shyest students become leaders and several students discover they had strengths in new areas,” Bradley said.

“The skills that students utilized during these activities improved teamwork, increased motivation, built self-esteem and self-confidence, and improved participation in my classroom,” Bradley said.

Earl Young is the Director of Operations & System Improvements with the Education Foundation of Sarasota.  

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