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Designing the Future: How Engineering Builds Creative Critical Thinkers in the Classroom

Encourage creativity, communication, innovation, and collaboration in students by incorporating engineering design process thinking into existing classwork. Gain strategies for supporting engineering practices that foster creative problem-solving and critical thinking.


  • Explore the engineering design process (EDP) and unpack its stages: problem definition, research, brainstorming, prototyping, testing, and optimizing.
  • Understand how incorporating engineering for students creates a project-based learning environment that encourages essential 21st century skills, including creativity, innovation, and critical thinking.
  • Empower students to embrace the fundamentals of engineering design thinking, including: there is always more to learn, your solution will create problems, and there is no one right answer.
  • Learn how to develop and adapt engineering design process projects for various grade levels and disciplines.
  • Receive reflection tools that will empower you to revise and re-engineer activities and projects.
  • Incorporate elements of engineering and STEAM education lesson plans into your current classroom content.

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Part I: Preparation
Chapter 1: Building an Engineering Design Culture
Chapter 2: Deconstructing the Engineering Design Process
Chapter 3: Designing Projects
Part II: Activities and Projects
Chapter 4: Starting With Activities That Support Engineering Thinking and Skills
Chapter 5: Introducing Projects for Elementary School
Chapter 6: Introducing Projects for Middle and High School
Part III: Reflection
Chapter 7: Reflecting On, Revising, and Optimizing Your Curriculum
Appendix A: Action Plan Summary
Appendix B: Project Planning
Appendix C: Engineering Notebook Forms


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C



  • Gobble, T., Onuscheck, M., Reibel, A. R., & Twadell, E. (2016). Proficiency-Based Assessment: Process, Not Product. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
  • Jacobs, H. H. (Ed.). (2014). Mastering Global Literacy. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Appropriate Technology Websites

You can apply the following resources and lesson plans on appropriate technology to real-world problems.

Case Study Websites

Challenger Case Study Websites

These resources form a good background picture of the Challenger disaster, which has an accompanying case study.

Student Job-Related Websites

Project Manager

Architect and Engineer


Engineering Lesson Plans and Project Ideas

Nature-Inspired Engineering and Biomimicry


Student Study, Camp, and Scholarship Programs


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Appendix A