Shelley Latham Outreach Coordinator

Tis the Season for...Engineering!

PostedFriday, December 15, 2017 at 10:03 AM

Tis the Season for...Engineering!

As we officially enter Holiday Season 2017, here is a round-up of some great ideas, suggestions and resources recently posted by some of LinkEngineering’s trusted content partners. Everything from engineering gift guides to games with a STEM twist to keep students focused.

STEM Activities to Keep Students Engaged

In my house, December comes with a combination of joyful expectancy and an often crushing ‘to-do” list.  It can be difficult to balance the need to get things done and the desire to just kick back and enjoy the holidays. This is especially true for teachers trying to wrap things up before winter vacation while their students are distracted with the excitement of the season.

The folks at Engineering is Elementary have come up with some excellent suggestions on how to keep kids engaged prior to winter break.  The three activities include games and challenges that don’t require a lot of planning or materials and sound like a lot of fun to boot. Fictionary is a word game that combines vocabulary skills with imagination and can be given a fun STEM tweak. Plus, it can be geared to any age level. I have some very fine memories of laughing myself silly playing this game with friends. Technology Tag gets kids out of their seats and gets them thinking about the differences between technology and the natural world. This is a new game for me, but I can see how it would be a welcome break during a long school day and help kids think critically about the world around them. Tools of the Trade makes a game of figuring out the kinds of problems that engineers solve and includes some great team-work too. Read full post here.

Holiday Gift Guides

One of the things that can make the holidays challenging is finding the right gift for the special people in your life. As a Mom, I always look for gifts that are fun but that also encourage constructive play and foster imagination and growth. Luckily, there are a couple of excellent lists we can recommend to you for gift ideas with an engineering focus.

The k-12 education team at the University of Delaware College of Engineering asked advisor Kate Jurist to put together a holiday gift list that provides meaningful engineering experiences. She decided to base her suggestions on the theme of the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges for Engineering. Jurist chose to focus on three challenges: access to clean water, making solar energy affordable, and advancing health informatics. What elevates this gift guide is that Jurist doesn’t just include links to engineering kits, she also describes how to engage with the materials and provides DIY alternatives. And while these are exciting, I’m willing to bet that the most popular item might be her suggestion to provide kids with lab coats and safety glasses!  Read full post here.

For the book lovers on your list, LinkEngineering’s partners at the National Association of Science Teachers have compiled a Best STEM Books of 2017 list and it is chock-a-block full of great suggestions for every age reader. The NSTA is the perfect organization to help the rest of us sift through the hundreds of STEM titles published each year. What was the criteria to make it onto the list? Book’s that reinforce STEM thinking— modeling innovation, demonstrating authentic problem-solving and assimilation of new ideas, all while exploring solutions that show progressive change or improvement. The list includes history, biography, primers and fiction, for all ages and reading levels. These also make great gifts for school libraries. Read full post here.

Supporting STEM for All Kids with Year-end Gifts

December will find many of us making year-end donations and supporting our local communities. LinkEngineering Committee member, Linda Kekelis, who is also a STEM advisor for a number of organizations including Code Like A Girl, has some terrific suggestions about how to support access to STEM activities and opportunities for kids in need. All students enjoy the thrill of learning how to solve problems and make things, but not all kids have these opportunities in their homes and classrooms. While some of Kekelis’ suggestions are focused on STEM for girls, they are equally applicable for all kids. For instance, you can use the NSTA book list to choose titles when making donations to your local gift drives. Books also make excellent gifts for teachers, schools, libraries and homeless shelters. In addition, Kekelis suggests donating to and volunteering for after-school enrichment programs, supporting your local Scouting organizations, and funding teacher grants especially in underserved communities. There are lots of ways to incorporate these ideas in your year-end giving. Read full post here.

We hope this round-up helps you integrate engineering education into your holiday festivities this year. And, however you celebrate the season, Happy Holidays from all of us here at!

Photo credit: Kids at School by Lucelia Ribeiro via Flickr with Creative Commons license

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