STEM and STEAM engineering projects are so much more than just giving children a problem to solve and bunch of supplies to solve the problem with. There are specific steps that children need to work through as they come up with the solution. These steps are called the STEM or STEAM engineering design process. Let me walk you through each of the steps.
What is the STEM Engineering Design Process?
The first step in the process is to ask what the problems are or what the problem is. Your children need have a clear idea of what they are working to solve. If they don’t they can create something really cool and fun, that really does help you with the assigned problem.
Once they are clear on the problem they need to solve, it is time to brainstorm ways to solve the problem. Children may need to be encouraged to think beyond recreating something they have already seen before. One way to do that is to ask them ways they can improve or change something they have seen before and make it better.
After they have come up with several different ideas, they will need to narrow their choice down to just one idea. If they are working with a partner or team, they will need to be able to share why they think a particular idea is the best one to work on.
Just as a builder would not start building a house without a plan. Children completing a STEM engineering design process would not want to start creating something without a plan. They will need to create a diagram or drawing of what they hope to create.
You may want to them to label the various sections of their diagram. It will help them to see how the whole project with fit together.
Coming up with the list of supplies they will need is a part of the plan step of the STEM engineering design process.
During the create process, your children will follow the plan they have come up with. They will need to go back and look at their diagram or drawing over and over again to make sure they are on track.
This step is where your children are testing out their plan to see if it really works.
While it is wonderful when the plan children come up with work perfectly the first time, it is often the case that things don’t work perfectly the first time. Children will take what they have learned from the problems they encountered to find a way that will work better.
Then they will repeat the process using their new and improved ideas.
STEM Engineering Design Process Document
I have created a STEM engineering design process planning document you can use with your children. I have included the process poster in this PDF.
Here are some STEM projects that we have done: