Gear Up Maryland utilizes a simple version of the Engineering Design Process that we call the Problem-Solving Process. The Problem-Solving Process was created to guide young students through real life challenges using interchangeable steps such as promoting collaboration with your team and recognizing that failure is an essential step in design and problem-solving by advancing improvement through iterations in order to achieve solutions to today’s problems. For elementary, middle, and high school students, we see the use of motorsport and automotive engineering technology as a valuable platform that brings a host of benefits particularly by learning the value and use of hand tools, materials, and mechanical principles. Based on these approaches, it is our goal to demonstrate how science, technology, reading, engineering, art, and math (STREAM) are constantly used in real world applications.
The Problem-Solving Process
This Problem-Solving Process has just five steps and uses terms that young students can easily understand:
Humility / Communication
What is the problem? How have others approached it? What are your constraints?
Integrity / Collaborate
What are some solutions? Brainstorm ideas. Choose the best one.
Discipline / Organization
Draw a diagram. Make lists of materials you will need.
Accountability / Innovation
Follow your plan and create something. Test it out!
Responsibility / Critical Thinking
What works? What doesn’t? What could work better? Modify your design to make it better. Test it out!
It’s important to note that this process is flexible. Students work through all five steps, but in real life, an individual often works on just one or two steps, and then passes their work to another person or team.
Problem Solving Process is a cycle, and as such, there is no official start or end point. You can begin at any step, focus on just one step, move back and forth between steps, or repeat the cycle. For example, after you improve your design once, you may want to begin all over again to refine your technology. You can use the Problem Solving Process again and again!