Within collaborative groups, team members work through age-specific engineering challenges based on the natural world. Participants engage in each step of the Engineering Design Process through free online Missouri Department of Conservation Discover Nature School curriculum. The pre-K group will use recycled materials, creating bird feeders to test quantity and strength. The kindergarten group will create a model of a bear den, testing strength and weaknesses of weather conditions. First grade group will analyze armor and behavior of living isopods and research other common Midwest animals with protective layers. From this research, they will create their model and test its protective nature. Using seed dispersal as a phenomenon, the second grade group will model and test different seed dispersal methods as assigned for their specific seed to explore. Participants will share how to connect engineering and ELA within their classroom through supporting trade books.
Through hands-on practice and application of the engineering design process, participants will engage in asking questions, building models to test shape and function of an object, and test/identify strengths and weaknesses within grade-level groups. Utilize local nature for engineering prompts!
Gwendolyn Parrett (Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center: Kansas City, MO), Mary Beth Factor (Discover Nature School Curriculum Coordinator: West Plains, MO)