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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Homeschool Crew Review: Thinking Like an Engineer

Innovators Tribe

One of the really cool benefits of being part of the Homeschool Review Crew is discovering companies and products that you have never heard of before.  I had never heard of Innovators Tribe before they showed up on our upcoming vendor list.  Over the last several weeks I have had an opportunity to use and review their Thinking Like an Engineer course with two of my boys.

Thinking Like an Engineer

Thinking Like an Engineer is an online course designed for students in grades 6-12.  The course is around 30 hours long.  It is a self paced course that students can work on independently that uses multi media instruction and contains many hands on activities. There is also a downloadable course journal included that students will be able to document what they have learned.  Links to the design software that is necessary to complete the 3D design activities are included.  Other items needed to complete the engineering challenges are simple items that you either have around your house or will be able to easily acquire.

In the course students will learn what an engineer is and what they do.  They will learn about the different types of engineers and what types of problems they are trying to solve. They will learn to think like an engineer and some of the worlds greatest engineering challenges.  Students will complete several engineering challenges including making a tower, a structure that can support the weight of many books, and a water filter.  They will also design using CAD software, design and build bridges, design and build a roller coaster, and more.  The course has 5 units with several lessons in each unit:

Introduction to Engineering
Introduction to 3 D Design
Engineering Rollercoasters
Engineering Bridges
Nano Engineering

Once you purchase your course, you have access to the course for 18 months. Online lessons can be watched more then once.  You do not have to purchase a course for each of your children, families can use the course together.  The regular price for Thinking Like an Engineer is $149.  Innovators Tribe also offers a Thinking Like an Architect Course and they have a Thinking Like a Carpenter Course coming soon.

My boys love things that are related to science.  Their main 4 h project area is STEM (science, technology,  engineering, mathematics,) so I knew this course would be interesting to them.  But the main reason I wanted them to take this course is because their daddy is an engineer.  His degree is in Mechanical Engineering, but he has worked as a product engineer, design engineer, manufacturing engineer, quality engineer, some I am probable forgetting, and he is now a Manufacturing Engineering Manager.  Last summer when we toured his plant and he was able to show the boys some of the things he has designed they were fascinated by it.  I knew they would be interested in learning more.  Christian is actually only in 5th grade and Anthony is in 6th grade.  We have been working on the Thinking Like an Engineer course 2 days per week.  

The course is very easy to use.  Once you sign up and log in it takes you in order through the lessons.  If you have to stop halfway through a lesson, it keeps track of your place and allows you to pick up where you left off the next time you log in. You click through the lesson using the arrows at the bottom of the screen.  Sometimes a video plays, other times you have to read through some slides. 

The first engineering challenge was to build a tower using regular computer paper and tape.  My boys told their 8 year old sister that she was too young to figure out how to make a tower, so she had to make one too, and I think she did a great job!

Lily's tower

The second challenge was to use a piece paper and 2 ft of tape to build a structure that could support the weight of several books.  It was fun for me to watch their thinking process trying to figure out how to make a structure that would support the most weight.

Hands on activities are always a hit, but they have enjoyed watching the lessons too.  They have learned some things they didn't know about the different types of engineers that exist and have even had the opportunity to do some research on several topics.  One of the things they found very interesting was the idea of Virtual Reality so we did some research on it and why it is an engineering challenge.

Last week we downloaded the necessary software to start working on the 3 D Design section.  We live in the country and have super slow internet so I knew it was going to take some time to download.  It did take several hours.  The next day we tried to watch the video teaching how to use the software but the file was too big for my internet speed to handle so we had to wait until we could go somewhere that had better WiFi.  We had not had any issues watching the videos up to that point. This is no reflection on the course itself, it's what you know you have to deal with when taking online courses when your neighbors are cows.  We headed to my church a few days later and was able to watch the videos and practice using the software.  They were able to do some cool things!

I am so glad we have had an opportunity to review this course.  Even if your child does not have an interest in being an engineer, learning how to be a problem solver, an innovator, is a great skill to have. Mr. K is a very interesting teacher and does a great job presenting the information.  We have loved the hands on activities.  If there was one thing that I wish was different it would be to be able to make the slides in the course larger as they can be hard to see. I am looking forward to completing this course with the boys and would love to go through the Thinking Like an Architect as well.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

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