Investigate, Discover & Design: Developing Critical Thinking Skills through Sci & Eng I, II & III
In this hands-on course, students engage in experiments or design challenges during each and every class. The investigations reveal conceptual foundations in biology, chemistry, physics, medical and environmental sciences and the various engineering fields. Students explore topics including:
- computer programming
- anatomy and physiology
- applied physics
- mechanical and electrical engineering
Each grade level grouping offers a separate curriculum and is geared towards different degrees of sophistication and depth. Topics are undertaken in a thoughtful and age-appropriate manner. They are also foundations for our more specialized classes.
As students observe, record (through writing, pictures photographs, role play), design and test, they organically develop the habits, practices, mindset and vocabulary of scientists and engineers. Importantly, they have a joyful time doing so. Through this tour-de-force of experimentation, activities and design challenges, students develop critical and creative thinking skills, which they can apply to all areas of their learning.
With one exciting experiment or activity after another, they become comfortable:
- asking critical questions
- formulating simple hypotheses
- collecting evidence
- beginning to explore how to control for variables
- drawing basic conclusions
- sharing what they have learned
During engineering challenges, students become adept at:
- using their imaginations
- exploring other ways in which the particular challenge has been addressed in the past (basic research)
- taking risks and learning the value of making mistakes
- designing and developing models
- testing and evaluating
- refining their solutions
Students learn about abstract concepts via concrete means and develop a vocabulary to convey their understanding. As, always, the focus is on the “how’s” and “why’s” rather than a “what” - based rote memorization approach. True to the mantra, students in this course need to be ready to take risks, get messy, and make mistakes!
The Innovation Institute's team engages area research institutions and industries to help our students understand how and why real people are investigating the science behind and developing innovative solutions to the topics covered in this curriculum.
Learning entry points include the use of story telling, fiction and non-fiction literature and art.