Engineering is a fascinating field that has the potential to shape our future in unimaginable ways. Introducing engineering to middle and high school students can spark their interest in this field and encourage them to pursue it as a career. By learning the basics of engineering, kids and teens can develop skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity, which are valuable in all walks of life.
There are numerous resources available to introduce engineering to kids, including interactive workshops, hands-on activities, and STEM clubs. These resources can make learning engineering fun and exciting for students, especially teenagers, and help them gain a deeper understanding of the field.
One of the best ways to introduce engineering to students is through hands-on activities that allow them to design, build, and test their own projects. That’s why we created Sphero Blueprint. With Blueprint, you can Prototype Your World.™
In this blog, we’ll cover the ins and outs of our latest development, the Blueprint Build Kit and Class Pack, including content and funding that’s available. Blueprint is an integral part of the overall Sphero vision and the Build Kit and Class Pack are just the initial offering. There is more to come that will expand to a full engineering-focused collection, including options to power your inventions. Let’s dive in!
Engineering for Kids & Teens: Content & Curriculum to Get Started
Activities like building bridges, designing simple machines, and constructing robots can help students understand the principles of engineering in a practical and engaging way. Engineering challenges and competitions can also be a great way to encourage students to explore this field and develop their problem-solving skills.
Sphero follows a “content first” approach to product development. We ask educators to determine what they are teaching and what tools they need to support the curriculum in the classroom to engage their students. Once we determine the most important topics, we create a tool to support those objectives. Blueprint was born based on content needs and insights from real educators in classrooms across the globe.
Each Blueprint unit plan consists of three types of lessons – Foundation, Exploration, and Creation – all of which are:
PROBLEM SOLVING FIRST
Solving problems is the foundation of engineering education. Blueprint content provides challenge cards and engineering lessons that provide stepping stones for students to feel confident solving problems on their own.
ADAPTABLE & SCALABLE
Customize the Blueprint experience based on skill level and subject area. Blueprint content provides options to scale up or scale down lessons based on student needs.
Blueprint goes beyond teaching just a single STEM skill. Content explores cross-curricular concepts in engineering, science, math, history, technical writing, and more while learning critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
We know not every educator is familiar with teaching STEM subjects, or if you are, you might want to expand your STEM class offerings to include more in-depth engineering lessons for your students. That’s why we provide educator resources to support teaching with Sphero Blueprint, all of which are easy to understand and implement within your current classroom and curriculum.
These resources include:
Educator Guide Book
This NGSS and STEL standards-aligned guide will walk you through Blueprint’s features and best practices for your classroom.
Find the digital version here: https://sphero.cc/BPBuildEduGuide
The Blueprints Build Class Pack supports various CAD certification curricula with free Blueprint OnShape documents, as well as Solidworks and STEP files for CAD software support.
Our goal is to give educators the tools and support they need to create an environment where students excel through experimentation, problem solving, and experiential learning.
Additionally, Sphero Blueprint Units and Lessons are aligned to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Standards for Technology and Engineering Literacy (STEL).
Using Blueprint alongside the engineering design process provides for rich and meaningful standards alignment in STEM and engineering classes and beyond.
Engineering Kits for Kids & Teenagers in Career & Technical Education (CTE)
Career and Technical Education can provide a great opportunity for middle and high school students to explore their interests in engineering and gain hands-on experience in various fields. CTE programs can help students develop technical skills, industry knowledge, and workplace readiness, preparing them for future careers in engineering and related fields.
Historically, these programs have been linked to high school. However, we are seeing them steadily move to middle schools as funding opportunities increase. This is an exciting opportunity for younger students to be introduced to subjects like engineering, and another reason why we created Blueprint with the middle and high school CTE classroom in mind.
CTE can offer a pathway to higher education, as students can earn college credit and industry certifications while still in high school. By participating in CTE programs, students gain a competitive advantage in the job market and will be better prepared for success in their future careers.
Additionally, the State and Federal government often offer additional funding for students enrolled in CTE courses and for students that complete a CTE pathway before graduation. Keeping students engaged in a pathway for all four years of high school is key, and what makes an approachable, scalable system like Blueprint a great fit for CTE classrooms.
Engineering Kits for Kids and Teens: Funding Opportunities
As we mentioned above, we are seeing opportunities for middle schools to bring on CTE programs and engineering courses due to an increase in available funding. One source of funding that supports CTE programs (and can be used for products that support these classes, like Blueprint) is the Carl Perkins Grant. Perkins provides federal funding to improve both secondary and post-secondary career and technical education programs.
Moreover, the federal government awards Perkins Basic State Grant funds to each state. The amount given to states depends on factors like population in certain age groups and per capita income. Individual states are then responsible for allocating Perkins funding to their secondary school districts and post-secondary institutions. Each state has a formula for how it distributes its Perkins funding and they have control over how much goes to secondary vs. post-secondary schools.
When it comes to funding, sometimes it’s about knowing where to look and who to ask. Perkins funding is available in all states, so it’s a great resource for educators looking to level-up their CTE and STEM education offerings.
Introducing engineering to middle and high school students can ignite their curiosity and encourage them to explore the world of STEM. By providing hands-on activities, emphasizing real-world applications, and incorporating these lessons in CTE, students can gain a deeper understanding of engineering and be inspired to pursue this exciting field as a career. The possibilities for innovation and progress in engineering are endless, and by engaging young minds, we can ensure a bright future for this important field.
Learn more about Sphero Blueprint and our other programmable robots and STEM kits today!