Saturday, October 5, 2013

Engineering for Kids: Building Bridges for Gnomes

The Next Generation Science Standards were just released in April of this year and there is a new engineering standard for children in grades K-5. I am so happy about this! I know we must teach scientific facts and have our kids memorize definitions of scientific terms but to truly understand what a  scientist or engineer does, we must let our children create without telling them exactly how. Let them learn through trial and error! I just completed my unit "Gnome Engineers" with my adorable first graders and it was a big hit! I started off with a story about the gnomes & a problem they have that must be solved by creating a bridge.

I gave my students this challenge: create a bridge for the gnomes that can stand on its own and can carry 2 gnomes. Their enthusiasm was overwhelming!! After showing them slides of bridges to inspire and spark discussion, my first graders immediately set to work designing their gnome bridges.  When I told them that they would actually be building the bridges - they were literally shouting with joy! They were so excited to come to science class every week - it  was so wonderful to see. Here are some of their fantastic creations:

I am so proud of them and their creativity never ceases to amaze me! They experienced the engineer's design process first-hand: 
-identify the problem
-draw design
-build a prototype
-test, evaluate & redesign.
For a freebie on the engineering design process, click here. To pick up a copy of my Gnomes Engineering packet, click here or on the picture below:
Happy Weekend!


  1. My students are getting ready to start your monster engineers project and we are all very excited! The gnome project will definitely have to be next!!


    1. Yay! Your kids will love the monster engineers unit! I just finished it with my 4th graders, here are some pics: Party Monster Cars

  2. I definitely need to start following your blog! My teaching partner and I just LOVE science and are always looking for new and engaging ideas for our classrooms.

    Proud to be your newest follower :-)

    Seconds at the Beach

  3. Dear Sue,

    I absolutely adore your blog. I am leading a Science Workshop this weekend and I will share your blog with the participants. Thanks for all your amazing and hard work! (Keeping up a blog is a lot of work!) Thanks for sharing.

    Innovate, Create and Relate

    1. Thanks so much Kate! Your sweet comment made my day! :)

  4. Love your idea. Wish I would have seen it before I planned to organize the Three Billy Goats Gruff lesson. Sure is nice to see another science teacher who teaches elementary science. I have 21 sections in my school k-5 that I teach. Each class gets one hour a week of science with me. Thanks for inspiration!

    1. I don't know anyone else who has my job so it's always nice to connect with another elementary science teacher - thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. Great Blog post! You're doing very creative stuff in the classroom! Thanks for sharing!

  6. I have been looking through all of your posts and I am in love with your units! They are so creative and you have so many to use for all grades! I will be definitely using your ideas more. I wish I would have seen this all a long time ago! I really liked your robot unit! You are an inspiration to future teachers!:) Thanks for sharing!


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