Courtesy of KES
KES students think like engineers, using creativity for problem solving skills.
Third-graders visualize fractions
Third-graders are using pattern blocks, paper rectangles, pizza circles and drawings to help them develop visual images of how fractions or combinations of fractions can equal a whole. Using these tools, third-graders come to understand that two halves, three thirds and six sixths make a whole because they see the whole as “all filled up.” Similarly, students learn equivalents for one-half. Students notice that these fractions (2/4, 3/6, 4/8, and so on) are characterized by a denominator that is twice the numerator. They notice that as the size of the piece is halved, the number of pieces needed to make up the same quantity is doubled. Eventually students become familiar with many different equivalent fractions, such as 1/4 = 2/8, or 2/3 = 4/6.
Introducing: the fifth-grade engineers
In addition to taking on the role of scientist in the classroom, the fifth-grade students have started taking on the new role of engineer. An engineer is someone who uses science, math, and creativity to design new technology or improve upon old technology in order to solve a problem or fit a need.
Recently, the fifth-grade engineers did an intensive study on cleaning contaminated water and then designed water filters using everyday objects to make polluted water more clear in color and free of particles.
Through these practices, the fifth-grade engineers have learned a lot about the engineering design process. Here is how some students described what they learned:
Otto the Engineer: “How to argue with others about how to work out difficult situations. That was important because when we argue, we put our ideas together and it helps us.”
Nina the Engineer: “Arguing with your group to find the best solution. I think this was important because that’s a skill you need, especially to not get angry, but to still state your opinion.”