We All Can Be Engineers

Brandon Lewis is a 5th grade teacher at Lewis & Clark Elementary in Liberty, Missouri. He has been a PLTW Launch Master Teacher for two years. 

From inside the walls of an elementary school, engineering looks very different compared to the rest of the world. My job is to make something that can be very complex seem much simpler.

I’m doing this through PLTW Launch, a K-5 program that creates a hands-on, integrated learning experience that blends computer science, engineering, biomedical science, and more.

The modules I focus on in PLTW Launch solve real-world problems using robots. While my students enjoy activities such as researching how robots make life easier for humans, their engagement reaches new heights when they build and control their own robots to solve a real-world problem. Students take their robots and program them, using block coding, to make them run autonomously. You’ve never seen an 11-year-old excited until you see their reaction after their robot successfully removes “hazardous waste” from a self-constructed waste site!

Students are now receiving life-changing opportunities like these for the first time in elementary school instead of their first year of college. Thanks to Project Lead The Way, I have students who leave elementary school demanding more engineering classes at the next level. I have students who say they’ve changed their mind about their future, and now they want to be an engineer. Without PLTW, engineering would still be a foreign concept to my students. The opportunities they’ve been given have now made this a viable pathway for them and their future.

I thought it was comical when I was first approached about teaching engineering. It wasn’t me. I didn’t think that way.

I quickly realized how wrong I was. Everyone can think in this way, and everyone deserves the opportunity to think in this way. I don’t want anyone to sell themselves short. Just like I tell my students: We all can be engineers.

This post was originally published by Change the Equation.

PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of this guest author.