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TSC students run with the IDEA
Sue Scott

The IDEA (Imagine, Discover, Enrich and Analyze) program enriches science education throughout the TSC for all kindergarten and first grade classes. An IDEA teacher provides one in-person or virtual 30-minute lesson each month. The lessons challenge students to use the Engineering Design Process (Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, and Improve) to solve a problem. Each challenge incorporates literacy and science concepts, as well as the life skills of effort and perseverance. 

At Battle Ground Elementary School, IDEA teacher Kim Fallon challenges first grade students to use the engineering design process to create a sled to help a bear get down the mountain. Teacher Jessica Baker distributes the materials: an index card, pipe cleaner, two drinking straws, tape and a small bear figurine. The goal is prevent the bear from falling out of his sled as he rides it down an inclined plane, and to see which design travels the farthest. 

BGE student prepares to send her bear on the sled down a ramp

At Wea Ridge Elementary School, students in Lisa Merryman’s first grade class sing along to the nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle,” featuring the cow that jumped over the moon. Students review science concepts related to simple machines and levers and then Fallon challenges them to design a lever to launch a cotton ball (the cow) over the moon (plastic cup). The teacher gives the students a stack of popsicle sticks and some tape to accomplish the task.

WRE students design a lever to launch a cotton ball over the moon

Merryman says the students are having fun while developing problem-solving skills: “The laughter and smiles when they were able to launch the cow over the moon were priceless. I love to see my students excited about learning and to see them proud of themselves when they complete the task given.” 

Baker says the IDEA program has had a major impact on teaching science while building better thinkers and better students. “It is truly amazing to watch many of my students who aren't always fully able to show their talents through paper and pencil, show their abilities through hands-on, creative engineering designs,” Baker says.