STEAMed Magazine July 2015 - Page 34

FROM THE FIELD The Design Notebook as STEAM Learning Tool BY HEIDI A. OLINGER Erica is not old enough to drive a car, but recently she saved the day for two math teachers when their car broke down and neither knew how to use a set of jumper cables. Standing in a parking lot by a Starbucks, the adults faced the problem by using their phones to google “jumper cables.” But, as one of the teachers described to me, while they debated what to do, Erica, who is in the 8th grade, grabbed the cables in exasperation and said, “Look! The black one is negative. The red one is positive.” She clamped the cable ends on the correct battery terminals of the dead battery and the booster car, saying, “They go here and here.” Then she stood back and ordered the adults to start their cars. Erica told me that while she was in the parking lot, she rationalized that she knew something about electrical circuits. She does. She proved it, and much of her practical knowledge and application were developed in a design notebook. All photos in this article are copyright Pretty Brainy; photo credit, Heidi A. Olinger. 34