September 13, 2017
Gianna Netti, an earth science teacher at Little Falls Middle School, holds up a stacking device during her Engineering byDesign class as they discussed the projects they did during the last class. The new course being taught in the school district aims to brings more STEM courses to its students. [Credit: Stephanie Sorrell-White/Times Telegram]
LITTLE FALLS — Students in Gianna Netti’s Engineering byDesign course had a challenging assignment during a recent class.
They had to stack cups without using their hands.
On Monday, the students took a moment to explain what they had to do during the assignment, which included building their own device to solve the problem. Netti said students had to keep working on their devices to make it more efficient and easier to use as part of the lesson.
Finding creative solutions to problems is one of the goals of the Engineering byDesign course, new to the Little Falls City School District this year for students in kindergarten through eighth-grade. For middle school students, it’s a half-year required course.
The course ties in with the district’s technology initiative.
“It’s 21st century learning,” said district Superintendent Keith Levatino about the course.
Levatino said the course can provide students with the skills they need to prepare them for a technology job soon after high school, noting “coding is a perfect example.”
Several science and technology teachers in the district attended a four-day workshop over the summer at Oneida-Herkimer BOCES to learn about how to incorporate the Engineering byDesign course into the district’s curriculum and at different grade levels.
“The training was very in-depth,” said Netti.
Netti showed a sixth-grade syllabus that showed the range of topics the students would cover, including an introduction to technology, system designs, transportation systems, community-related environmental problems, building green and marketing.
The course is adjusted for the grade level, such as a lesson at the kindergarten level includes how they would build a habitat for an animal.
Megan Adams, a life science teacher at the middle school, said her students have worked on building a raft and how they can best make it float.
“We got into what does work and what doesn’t work. Eventually, it got into design construction and redeveloping,” she said.
Adams explained the purpose of the course.
“Engineering is [about] trying to solve a problem,” she said.
Joseph Doyle, a middle school technology teacher, said he had been interested in bringing the Engineering byDesign course to the school the past few years. He said the course has evolved from the technology education and industrial arts that has been offered at the school.
“There’s more drawing, more sketching. You can see the problem solving,” he said.
Doyle said the course also requires the student to show communication skills and to be able to present how they solved the problem to the group.
Middle School Principal Maria Lindsay said the course offers the opportunity for hands-on learning and for inquiry among the students.
Shealso made the point that life skills are incorporated with the curriculum.
“It teaches them resilience,” said Lindsay. “They understand if something might not work, the first time, to try and try again.”
Students, so far, have been responding to the new course.
“They’re excited. Super excited,” said Adams, about her sixth-grade class.
Read the full story on timestelegram.com.
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