The sequence followed in all the challenges is:
1. Identify the problem
Engineers ask critical questions about the problem and what they want to create, whether this is a space station, a skyscraper, a car or a computer. These questions include:
* What is the problem?
* Define the problem in specific terms. Be as specific as possible.
* Which are the available materials?
* What do we need to know in terms of scientific principles that underlie the problem?
* What are the constraints of the problem? (budget, time etc)
* Which are the criteria that must be met so that the solution is acceptable?
2. Divide problem into sub-problems
Usually big problems consist of a series of sub-problems. So, engineers analyse the problem in order to plan their work.
* Is the solution to the main problem straightforward?
* Does the main problem consist of smaller and simpler problems?
* Engineers do not attempt to plan the whole thing at once. Large projects have many variables that you do not know and can affect the whole plan.
* Engineers set smaller goals. Instead of trying to plan everything from the beginning, they figure out the first obvious step and then move to the next one.
3. Explore the science
After dividing the main problem to the sub-problems it consists of, engineers investigate the scientific principles that underlie each sub-problem. The fundamental background science is essential for solving sub-problems and designing the optimum solution.
* What areas of science cover my project?
* Which are the scientific principles that underlie each sub-problem?
* Research background theory
* Perform experiments-tests to understand the theory’s applications.
4. Solve sub-problems
Generate as many solutions as possible by brainstorming and examine the advantages and the disadvantages of each possible solution. Evaluate all the solutions in order to identify the optimum.
* Design: Design the application of the chosen solution, carefully and with as much detail as possible. Draw a diagram of the solution and make a list of materials you need.
* Build: Follow your design and develop your solution of each one of the sub-problems
* Test: Test whether the solutions of individual sub-problems are compatible with each other
* Improve: Make the necessary corrections and improvements
5. Combine sub-solutions, test and improve
Combine the different components that will provide you the final, integrated solution to the main problem.
Test and if necessary improve your final design
* Does it work?
* Does it solve the need?
* Does the final design meet the criteria set?
* Analyze and talk about what works, what doesn't and what could be improved.
* Discuss how you can improve your solution
6. Present final solution
Review and evaluate your work and present your final solution in front of an audience.
The innovations brought by EDP are:
* Engage students in the real world of design process and on how engineers work when they are trying to solve a problem and design a solution for something.
* Encourage problem-solving skills including problem formulation and constraints, iteration and testing of alternative solutions.
* Practical application of science and math in engineering.
* Develop of critical thinking to solve problems.
* Support teamwork, motivation, troubleshooting and learning from failure.
* Increase young students (boys and girls) awareness of the different aspects encompassing science and technology and to pursue scientific careers.
* Understand the materials and their properties and the main role that have in the engineering problem.
As for the educators, the EDP increases educators’ abilities to teach engineering to their students in an innovative way. It supports the educators to carry out inquiry based activities in an in-school or out-of-school setting.