We started small with instant challenges. Things the teachers could do in just a few minutes to get their kids thinking. Then we moved to design challenges. Design challenges where students were presented with a problem and they had the task of finding a possible solution. We began using the Engineering is Elementary units that dove even deeper into the Engineering Design Process. Teachers changed their classroom job boards to STEM based jobs. Students now had a real world job that they could connect with what they were responsible for doing in the classroom. Teachers had construction zones or build sites in their classrooms where they would build and create using everyday materials. Teachers put redesign tables in their rooms and sat back and watched students bring in items they thought had a flaw. Students were thinking like Engineers even at home. Students were talking in ways they never had before and thinking about their thinking. The spark that was once just a lone classroom had now ignited into a school wide phenomenon! The Science lab was transformed into a STEM lab with various hands-on modules that students could work through on their own. We formed Gadget Girls, an all girls engineering group that empowered girls to be leaders in their classrooms. We held our very first Engineering Expo for 4th and 5th grade students where they displayed their successes along with their failures. They created kites, mini golf courses, egg drop containers, water slides, and many more! Listening to the students talk about the process and how they were owning their own learning was exactly what we wanted! Success! Well.....sort of.
So back to the idea of "dream bigger than what you think you're capable of", that's what we are doing. We are dreaming of transforming our library into a learning commons that will promote active, engaged learning that also houses a maker space. It's a big task but one that I know we are up to the task of handling. I'll let you know how it goes.