I had never heard of Innovators Tribe before, but when the opportunity arose to use and review the course Thinking Like an Engineer, I knew Mr. Intellectual would be interested. Sure enough, when I showed it to him and we watched the introductory video together, he was immediately excited about the possibility of getting to do it. He was absolutely thrilled when we got the word that we had been assigned this review, and he has been working very fast with his regular school work so he will get to work on this course. It’s what he looks forward to most, each school day.
This course alternates between video lessons and hands-on projects. After watching the introduction, What is Engineering, the assignment is given to build a tower out of only paper and tape—and strictly limited amounts of both. It took awhile, but Mr. Intellectual figured out how to do it, and had great fun in the process.
Lesson 2 talked about different types of engineers, and then the students were given another challenge assignment, to stack books one inch off the floor, using only one sheet of paper and some tape. I thought this was impossible; I couldn’t figure out how to do it at all. No hints or tips of any kind were given, just the assignment. My boy was stumped for awhile, but he eventually figured out what to do and made this impressive tower of books! (And no, I’m not going to tell you how he did it, because if your child does the course he or she needs to figure it out, too! However, if Grandma wants to know, we’ll tell her.)
The second unit focuses on 3D design, using special software you can download to your computer. That’s what Mr. Intellectual has been using for a few weeks now. He loves the excuse to play around with designs on the computer. I asked what he was working on a couple of days ago, and the assignment was to take a piece of household furniture and improve the design. He was working on a kitchen table. I’ll be quite interested to see what he ends up with!
This course isn’t quite what I was envisioning; it’s actually much better. I thought the students would be walked through designing specific items, but actually they are taught how to figure out problems themselves. An engineer takes a need and figures out how to meet that need using the materials available. This course teaches students how to do that, which is why the tower and the stack of books were assigned with no hints.
Each unit has a printable journal to fill in as you go, which helps to cement the concepts you’ve learned, and keep a record of your accomplishments—how tall was your tower, how many pounds of books did you stack on top of your piece of paper, etc. If you run into difficulty, you can contact the author of the course and he’ll give you personal help. We haven’t needed any help, but some of the other people who did this course reported that they asked for some input and got quick, thorough answers.For children who can read at least some, Thinking Like an Engineer can be done totally by the student, without any help from Mom. In fact, I’ve had a little trouble writing this review because I was involved so little! I had to keep reminding myself to look over Mr. Intellectual’s shoulder and ask questions about what he was doing, so I’d have at least something to say! That makes it even more valuable to me, because I don’t have time for extras most days, so doing something that requires teacher input would have been difficult. I believe this would even work for people with dyslexia who have a lot of trouble reading, because most of it is in video format.
Mr. Intellectual says he would highly recommend this course for other people who are interested in building things and figuring out how they can be made to work better. We’re thankful to have had the chance to use Thinking Like an Engineer, and looking forward to the rest of the course! (It will be very interesting to see what he gets to do in the units about designing rollercoasters and bridges! Maybe that’s when we’ll use the packs of card stock we were told to buy?)
This is our last review for this year—hard to believe we’re at the end already! We have really enjoyed the chance to try out different products and read books we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. If you, too, homeschool and blog, and are interested in being on the Review Crew, they are taking applications right now for the 2018 crew. APPLY TODAY to The Homeschool Review Crew!