This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about engineering and design process. It is designed to complement the Engineering and Design Process topic page on BrainPOP Jr.
Remind children that engineering is the area of science and technology that explores designing, building, and improving things to solve problems. Explain that engineers often collaborate, or work together, to solve a range of different problems from inventing tools that allow us to gather information about our world to building homes and planning cities, and much more! Lead a discussion about contributions made by the engineering and design community.
Review that engineers follow a process for solving problems. First they find and understand a problem. Invite children to think of a problem. What do people struggle with every day? What do people do or use that can be improved? Encourage children to think of a way to improve an invention that already exists. Recall that in the movie, the problem was the squirrels were eating the food in the birdfeeder. Annie and Moby understood that they needed to engineer a way to prevent the squirrels from getting inside the feeder.
The next step in the process is gathering information about the problem. Encourage children to research the problem they identified. Explain that this might include reading books, looking online, or talking to an expert. Have them take notes, draw pictures, take photos, or record video. Remind children that in the movie, Moby video recorded the squirrels to understand how they were getting into the birdfeeder.
The next step of the process is to make a plan. Using information they’ve gathered about the problem, engineers brainstorm different ways to solve it. Encourage children to draw pictures or make models of different ideas. Invite them to explore more than one design, and then list a step-by-step plan to test their design, including the required materials.
The final step is to test and improve the design. As children carry out their plan, have them observe by taking notes and collecting data to see if their design solves the problem. Tell them not to be discouraged if their first plan doesn’t work. Explain that when a design isn’t successful, engineers explore what did and didn’t work, and come up with a new design to test. Some of the most important inventions were made by engineers and designers whose ideas didn’t always work. They approached the problem in a different way to solve it!
Finally, it’s important to explain to children that they can jump around the engineering and design process. If a plan doesn’t work to solve a problem, they can go back and improve the design and test again. If the improvement still isn’t successful, children can go back and brainstorm more ideas that solve the problem and choose a different idea to plan and test.
For enrichment or extension, we recommend exploring these related BrainPOP Jr. movies Science Skills, Scientific Method, and Science Projects.