Getting Ready to #EngineerThat

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Architecture Camp counselor Ryan Griffis, right, helps participant Michelle with her scale sketch of her design. (Flickr/Penn State)

Teachers, have you heard about KQED's STEM media challenge #EngineerThat for middle school and high school students? Are you excited to have your students participate, but aren't sure how to get started? Here are some tips to get your students ready to #EngineerThat.

Join a Webinar

We will be introducing the challenge and answering questions in two upcoming webinars. Please join us! Click here to join the webinar about 10 minutes before it is scheduled to begin. (We will be using Adobe Connect.)

  • Thursday, December 10, 2015 at 5pm PST
  • Thursday, January 7, 2016 at 4pm PST

Get Inspired

  • Watch one of QUEST's "Engineering Is" videos or check out an e-book from the series for examples of scientists and engineers working together to solve real-world problems.

backpack sketch_small


Start Small

  • Begin with a practice activity. Think about items we use everyday. How could they be improved?
  • Place students in pairs to interview each other about some common problems they face with items they use at school (e.g. too-small desks, lunch bags that don't keep food cold,  backpacks that don’t hold all the right stuff, etc.).
  • Have each student choose one item mentioned by their partner and brainstorm ideas for improvements. How could they change those items to make them function better? How would they improve upon the design?
  • Students can sketch their solutions, share them with their partners to receive feedback, and then make changes to their designs.

Introduce the Engineering Design Process

  • Now that students have had a chance to experience the engineering design process, go over the steps of the process with them. You can find some great resources from
  • Have students identify each part of the engineering design process from their practice activity.
  • Watch the QUEST "Engineering Is" video again, or choose another one! (The videos are also found on under "Collections" at the top of the page). Discuss the different steps of the engineering design process as it relates to the project the scientists and engineers are working on.

Brainstorm Ideas for #EngineerThat

  • Think about some challenges we currently face, like transportation or energy. How do we get to and from the places we go? How could our methods of transportation be improved or made more efficient? Think about all of the different ways we use energy. Could our homes, classrooms or community spaces be made more energy-efficient?
  • Interview family members, friends or community leaders to hear their ideas.

Have Fun!

The best part about this challenge is that there are no wrong ideas. Be creative in designing your solutions!

Go to the #EngineerThat challenge