If you don’t succeed on the first try…well, that’s actually a good thing. It means you are being challenged to think, to reconsider and to try something new. Mirowitz students have the benefit of learning the principles of engineering design — something we never talked about when I was a child.
You should have seen our first graders tossing eggs down a flight of stairs recently. The “egg drop” required that each student create a container to keep their egg safe during its descent and landing.
Some of their designs worked. Some didn’t.
Our fifth graders are beginning to study Rube Goldberg machines — contraptions intentionally designed to perform a simple task through the chain reaction of one simple machine triggering the next. They will be planning and building their own machines to culminate a unit on physics.
And middle school students recently had to design a structure that could withstand an earthquake. It had to hold 250 grams of weight and be 36 centimeters tall. A few survived. Many did not.
We often associate engineering design with STEAM projects that involve science, technology, engineering, art and math. But design thinking helps students even in subject areas that don’t integrate all the topics.
We know our students are tapping into their imagination and problem solving skills when they DON’T get all the answers right on the first try. As a bonus, they also learn to persevere.
As a mom of two Mirowitz alumni, both of whom entered the field of engineering, I can attest to the importance of this kind of training. Children who experience problem solving that requires multiple iterations grow in their self-confidence. They are able to tolerate failure, develop tenacity, and to think creatively. At Mirowitz, we teach our students that FAIL stands for First Attempt In Learning. It’s our hope that our students will grow up to have all the tools for success in life, and our approach to design thinking sets them on that path.