Raguet Students Take Part in Novel Engineering

Raguet Students Take Part in Novel Engineering
Posted on 11/05/2018
Raguet Students Take Part in Novel Engineering

How do you solve a problem like monkeys swiping hats? Improvise with what you have.

That’s just one of the challenges students at Raguet Elementary tackled Wednesday and Thursday as part of the school’s introduction to Novel Engineering.

The concept is for students to read a book – in this case, “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs,” “Caps For Sale” or “Marie Had a Little Llama” – then identify the problems that emerge from the story and find a way to solve them.

In small groups, students must take a basket of materials to design and construct the solution... and they likely don’t have everything needed. That encourages improvisation.

“They solve problems from books they read,” Raguet Assistant Principal Lindsey Turner said. “The students then work through steps to find a solution.”

The Novel Engineering program at Raguet is in its first year. Sherry Howard with Nacogdoches-based NIBCO Inc. has been attending Raguet’s Jill Waller Memorial Gallery of Magnificent Minds and wrote a grant that she wanted to share with the community.

NIBCO used the funds to pay for the project, and Drs. Lauren Burrow, Chrissy Cross, and  Mark Montgomery with Stephen F. Austin State University agreed to provide assistance in the form of teacher training, event management and SFA education students.

An outline of the schedule for students included a 10-minute introduction of engineering goals, 20 minutes to devise an item using only the materials at hand, 20 more minutes for feedback from peers and 20 minutes to rebuild the project after considering the suggestions.

Recyclable materials used in the projects were donated by Raguet families, Turner said. The professors oversaw the work in the cafeteria and gym while SFA students worked with each Raguet group.

Goals of the program for the elementary students, Burrow said, are to:

• Excite students about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) plus literacy;

• Provide an opportunity to work in a team setting;

• Apply critical thinking skills to a book they enjoyed reading;

• Utilize STEM skills when prompted by literacy activities; and,

• Encourage students to see themselves as scientists, engineers and inventors.

Unraveling the problems got students excited.

“We had a lot of items to make a hat – so the monkeys wouldn’t steal the hat,” Raguet third-grader Olivia Kuten earnestly explained. “And I liked everything about it.”

The project also pays off for the college students, said Burrows, furnishing an opportunity to work in a large, group classroom setting; identifying teamwork roles; supervising STEM and literacy integration activities; and stimulating critical thinking in students by providing guiding questions.

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