I have worked with STEPS Engineering programme for the last number of years, and it has always been a collaboration I really enjoy. Last year, I created a video for helping teachers get started with the engineering programme, which I will link here:
I also created a teaching resource for teaching children with additional needs about the world of engineering, which can be accessed when you register on the site.
I am writing this blog post in collaboration with STEPS to tell you a little about the programme and why I enjoy it so much. The STEPS Young Engineers Award competition encourages 3rd and 4th class pupils and their teachers to explore the world of engineering by developing an engineering project that would help improve their local community. It is so straightforward. Teachers divide the class into teams up to 6. Each team comes up with a project idea by identifying something they would like to improve in their community. The teacher’s role is that of facilitator. I also created a booklet on getting started with the project which can be downloaded when you register! It gives you a step by step guide on how to begin and get the children into the ‘engineering mindset’. This competition is an excellent way for children who may not excel academically to really shine, and it takes account of all learning styles which I love. The project based nature promotes collaborative learning and teamwork, accountability etc. It ties in well with SPHE in the sense. There’s also lots of scope for integration into other subjects with this project, particularly geography.
Schools are encouraged to invite local engineers, or to sign up for a STEPS Volunteer Engineer, to visit their class for a showcase of the projects. The engineers will also give the class an insight into the important role of engineering in the community. You must register by September 23rd to opt into a STEPS volunteer engineer visit.
The students follow a structured STEPS Project Book comprising a series of worksheets. This is a big plus for me. You get all the material you need in the project book. It is really well laid out and there is very little teacher talk involved, it is all child led, and discussion based, with the workbook to add structure.
When you register you can get the following:
- Teachers Conference – a short series of videos to support you and improve their confidence in leading the STEPS Young Engineers Award project.
- Project Book – this is what the students will use to guide their project.
- Lesson Plans
- Presentation skills video – Mark Langtry (RTE) gives tips to students on how to present their projects.
- Regular check-ins – We send emails with updates, reminders and suggestions.
- Webinars – a series of four webinars corresponding with each step of the Project Book
An optional, but important part of the students’ engineering journey is for the teams to present their projects. This could be to their teacher, a local engineer, the principal and/or their peers. There are so many good reasons to take part in this programme! It covers STEM for a whole term. If I had third or fourth class, I would do this engineering work for an hour a week, maybe a Thursday afternoon. It is a really good and structured way to teach engineering and provides you the teacher with loads of resources. It is linked to the curriculum, it is student led, it promotes team work, helps friendships to develop, introduces children to engineering from a young age and it allows children to work on their presenting skills.
Registration is open now for the Young Engineers Award and you can register here: https://steps.smapply.io/