These days, it’s not enough to just tell children that STEAM topics are important—you have to show how science, technology, engineering, art, and math can all interconnect to create something fun. “It shouldn’t be a chore,” says STEAM advocate and founder of The STEAM Connection Danielle Boyer. “It should be really exciting.” Over the summer, Danielle created the Engineering Design Club in her hometown of Troy, Michigan, and used SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids to make learning STEAM more enjoyable.
“Kids have a lot of expectations placed on them, they have a lot of work to do, so I try to make STEAM as fun for them as possible,” Danielle explained while talking about the club. “I wanted to make something a little more relaxed so they could learn STEAM instead of having it be forced on them.”
To balance the needs of parents and children, Danielle blogged about her experiences in club with detailed descriptions about what the students did, why it was important to their education and development, and what they actually thought of the classes. That way, parents would know what their kids were working on and what kind of STEAM principles they were learning. And the kids could have their projects documented for the world to see.
While the club was meeting during the summer of 2019, Danielle was able to present engineering principles to children in a fun way. By breaking down engineering design with apps like Shape It, Style It, and Print It, the kids in Danielle’s club were able to be as creative and crazy as they wanted to be.
They worked on different projects, ranging from creating a device that could help someone wake up on time to editing and building their own Every Kids Gets A Robot to learning why support and orientation in 3D printing matters. Using a Sinoh 3DWOX printer provided by SOLIDWORKS Education, Danielle printed all of her student’s designs, and taught them valuable lessons. “I love the printer, especially because all the filament is made out of recycled plastic We have enough plastic out there right now,” Danielle said. “I got to show to kids how the filament is made out of recycled materials and I got to use it as a lesson to talk about the environment and why sustainability is important.”
Danielle was also able to use the kid’s printing failures into teachable moments. “Failed prints are my favorite teaching tool because it makes the kids ask questions like, ‘Why does the print look so weird? Why is it all stringy? Is it the temperature? Is it the printing settings? What’s going on with it?’” By getting the kids comfortable with asking questions and learning from failures, she helped them become better future engineers and better critical thinkers.
Anyone who is considering starting a STEAM activity group for kids can learn from Danielle and find her lesson plans on the STEAM Connection blog. “SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids has been absolutely perfect for kids as young as four and as old as 15 to learn about SOLIDWORKS without any barriers of entry, like math,” Danielle said. “It enables kids to materialize their digital ideas and helps them see that there are so many possibilities, and boost their critical thinking skills.”
Danielle Boyer will be presenting on the main stage at 3DEXPERIENCE World in Nashville, TN, and she will also be leading a breakout session showcasing how she utilizes SOLIDWORKS products in her classroom and community, called “K-12: How SOLIDWORKS Transformed Our Educational Community.” On the last day of the workshop, Education Day, Danielle will be leading a workshop where attendees can join her and assemble 150 Every Kid Gets A Robot’s to send to kids around the country for free. Learn more and register today.
Thank you to Danielle Boyer for taking the time to discuss her projects and the Engineering Design Club. To learn more about Danielle Boyer, visit The STEAM Connection website and check out her Linktree. All images courtesy of Danielle Boyer.