My daughter has recently been learning about engineers, problem-solving, design, and exploring possibilities in the Thinking Like an Engineer online course from Innovators Tribe, so today I'd like to share a review of the program, what it's about, and our experience.
About Innovators Tribe & Thinking Like an Engineer
Innovators Tribe offers online, self-paced educational courses that, as the name implies, have the goal of teaching about innovation and design. Intended for grades 6-12. The courses spark creativity, inspire interest in applied science, and promote critical thinking skills.
Currently, they offer two courses: Thinking Like an Engineer and Thinking like an Architect. It looks like they'll be adding a third course, Thinking Like a Carpenter soon as well!
Thinking Like an Engineer provides an opportunity to learn more about engineering and how it impacts our world in a variety of ways, then offers the chance to tackle a variety of design challenges via both technology (3D design software - included in the course) and hands-on projects using simple materials, such as paper, card stock, and masking tape. , It is mostly student-led with minimal, if any, parental involvement required.
There are several sections to this course
Big Sis is currently in 5th grade and while the Thinking Like an Engineer course is designed mostly for children just a bit older, she was able to understand and participate fully. We jumped into using the program right away, with me sitting alongside her through the first several lessons, in case she needed assistance and so that I could really see what the course was all about. I began to step back and allow her to do it more independently after I noticed that she was doing great without any guidance on my part, even with the 3D design software! She is now a little over a third of the way through the program and even more excited about it than when she began.
The course is online. Once logged in, my daughter was presented with a self-paced series of slides, clips, videos, and links. Some slides involved reading, but most were narrated. It started out with lessons on what engineering is, the types of engineers, and how engineers are problem solvers and, of course, innovators.
Then she moved on to using the 3D design software and her creativity increased tenfold as she felt a whole new world of possibilities open up. I must say, it would've been hard to keep her on track with moving forward in the lessons once she learned to use the software because she had so many ideas and such fun creating. So create she did. I let her slow the pace at that point and enjoy the process. After learning the ropes and how to use the software through a number of video tutorials, she made a car rim and a lot of other fun, yet simple, designs of her own choosing (some of which where more art than functional, like her Christmas tree, inspired by the actions learned during one tutorial... and she loved it)! Challenges in this section of the course involved designing a piece of furniture with certain parameters and creating an improvement of something around the house.
She hasn't yet completed the challenges of roller coasters and bridges, but she is so excited to do so! There was also a design challenge for a water filter, but we did not participate in that one because we didn't have the materials on hand. I don't think the course specified these materials as necessary in the beginning; they just mention things like paper, cardstock, and masking tape. But perhaps I overlooked it.
Big Sis wanted me to share with you that she really loves Thinking Like an Engineer and that her favorite part is the 3D designing. She expressed that, for the most part, the videos and slides were interesting and easy to follow along, except for just one of the software tutorials that took several viewings before she could figure it out. She said the software program freezes up now and then, but that cold be a compatibility problem with the computer we have it installed on. She also mentioned that her favorite challenge was to see how high of a stack of books she could make on her paper "foundation".
I was hoping this program would open new windows of ideas and possibilities for my daughter - and it did! I wanted to expose her to more STEM concepts, to get her thinking "outside the box", to challenge her, to build her technological knowledge and skills, and for her to have fun with creativity. These goals were all met to some degree or another, but my favorite benefit of the course was one I hadn't expected: my daughter's noticeably increased self confidence each time she tackled and conquered the design challenge!
For anyone looking for a STEM or applied science course that their child can do from home and at their own pace, Thinking Like an Engineer is a unique option worth considering.
If you'd like to read more reviews from other homeschool families that have used this or the Thinking Like an Architect course, including those with children of different ages than my own, be sure to click on the Homeschool Review Crew banner-link below! You can also visit the Innovators Tribe website for more information!
I'm a homeschooling mom of three, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.