Thinking Like an Engineer definitely sounds like a course that would be up my fourteen-year-old’s alley, so when Innovators Tribe offered it up for review we were happy to participate! My son has always been very logic-minded and good at things like Legos, Minecraft, puzzles, and anything that’s construction-based. I knew he’d be excited about a homeschool engineering course, and I was right!
Thinking Like an Engineer is an online course directed at middle and high school students. It’s largely recorded videos, so it’s not a live class and can be done at your student’s own pace. There are several units and each unit has a set of lessons, plus an introduction, at least a couple of “challenge activities” which are the practicum of the course, and printable PDF student journals. Each individual module has its own video, at least one and some of them have more than one video, and the videos vary widely in length.
I love that right in the link contents in the left sidebar, the course lists how long each module should take. You can use this as a guideline when determining how it will count for your transcript; it would make a great computer technology course or a science credit. It doesn’t include much math, at least not as far as we’ve gotten. It does look like there is some physics and math in the Bridges unit, but we haven’t gotten that far yet. The units include:
- Introduction to Engineering
- Introduction to 3D design (modern design techniques)
- Engineering Rollercoasters
- Engineering Bridges
- Nano Engineering (Discovery of a New World)
- Course Conclusion
To start a unit, you click on it to open the lessons. Watch the short introduction and download the Course Journal. This is found in the grey “text” link under the lesson title. It’s a short word processor document that looks like worksheets. The instructions say to fill it out while you watch the lessons. You could use it as “homework” for your student to solidify their learning, or we just went over them orally at the end of the unit as a review. I love that this is included! With my reluctant learner, it’s necessary that I have some way to check and make sure that he’s not only doing the work but also retaining the information, especially with an independent course like this one is.
The first unit has a few activities that involve some creative thinking and learning the principles of engineering. The students are given an amount of tape and a sheet or two of paper, depending on the activity, and then given an objective to obtain with only those materials. My son had a lot of fun working through these! In the pictures above, he had two feet of tape and one piece of paper to build something to hold as many books as possible at least 1″ off the ground.
Other activities are solely based inside the 3D design software, which he has you download at the beginning of the first full unit. Several of the lessons in that unit include quick to-do’s to help the student learn the software, and then the activities are bigger projects. Once my son had done this unit, he was able to quickly open the software and do things with it. This is his favorite part of the course so far, and he’s really looking forward to learning to do more with it!
This has been a lot of fun for him and I know he’s learning so many life practical principles from it. He’s not given me any push back at all in doing this, so that’s great, and I know we’ll be looking to do other programs from this vendor in the future. We’ve found a winner! Don’t forget to check out the other Crew reviews – mostly on this same program, but a few got to do the Architecture program instead!