If ever I run into a homeschooling critic one of the very first things they jump is my supposed inability to teach my children anything I’m not already a master at myself. Or worse, what if one of my children is passionate about a subject I know nothing about! Surely I’ll ruin that child for life, right? I’ll be the first to admit that higher math, physics, engineering and everything that falls in that general range of learning are all things that I know little to nothing about. God gave me a child who is pretty gifted and talented in just these things. What will I ever do? Surely I must enroll him in school so he can learn at the feet of someone far more knowledgeable than me! Hogwash! I can find resources at home! If you are looking for a hands-on approach to exploring applied science, I suggest you check out Thinking Like an Engineer from Innovators Tribe.
Innovators Tribe is a great little company that I had never heard of before this review. They are in the business of creating online self-paced classes for 6th-12th graders. These are hands-on and fun courses that challenge how your student thinks and solves problems. As of this writing, they have two courses with a third coming soon! They currently offer Thinking Like an Engineer and Thinking like an Architect, and soon they will offer Thinking Like a Carpenter.
I enrolled both of my boys ages 10 (he’s my gifted one) and 12 in the Thinking Like an Engineer. In this course, students learn what it takes to work in the field of engineering. They learn what engineers do, what kinds of engineers there are, and quite a bit of math and Science too. This is a very in-depth course suitable for most situations to award at least a partial high-school credit for a completed course. There are over 30 hours of lessons, all self-paced with plenty of hands-on activities and challenges. You even get all of the software you need, like Autodesk 123D Student Edition. Probably the best part for this cash-strapped homeschool mom? You can enroll multiple students for the single price of $149 for the year.
During this course your students will work through 6 units:
- Introduction to Engineering
- Introduction to 3D Design (tools of modern design)
- Engineering Rollercoasters!
- Engineering Bridges
- Nano Engineering (Discovery of a New World)
- Thinking Like an Engineer – Course Conclusion
Here is a break down of the first unit:
- Lesson 1 – What is Engineering
- Lesson 2 – Types of Engineers
- Lesson 3 – Engineering Clean Water
- Lesson 4 – Grand Challenges of the World
My boys were able to finish a lesson about every 5-6 school days or so. For us, that equals about a week and a half on the calendar. They’ve enjoyed it. The video lesson portions are very engaging. I feared they could be dry, but that was probably my own biases on the topic shining through. I found myself rather engrossed. It is interesting. There are challenge activities between most videos and boy are they challenging, in a right way!
This whole course can be pretty hands-off for the homeschool parent. Once you get, things set up the kids can be off and running on their own. I encouraged my boys to go at a slightly slower pace than they could have because I wanted them to take their time on the challenges. They would work on the challenge the day it was presented and then again a day or so later. It was fascinating to watch their thinking grow and change when they tackled the challenge a second time. Some of the challenges involved using paper and tape to hold up a stack of books or creating furniture in the Autodesk Software.
I asked my boys to give me their thoughts on the program, and they told me that they think it’s great. They like the videos because they are easy to follow and enjoyable. They said the challenges could be frustrating as they are learning but they really make them think. In the end they were able to work through and find success.
Overall everyone is very much looking forward to the weeks ahead as we tackle more and more lessons. We recommend checking out Thinking Like an Engineer and the other courses that Innovators Tribe offers. I’m pretty sure we will be adding their additional classes to our schedule in the future.
Checkout their video!