STEM-Focused Cannon Elementary Invites Parents for Engineering Week Celebration
Posted on 03/01/2023
Cannon Elementary was bustling with students excited to work with their parents on engineering-related design challenges that they had been planning in class during a special Engineering Week event the evening of February 23.

“We do critical thinking and problem solving all year long, but during National Engineering Week we pay tribute to our four STEM pillars within our Cannon STEM mission, which is curriculum, culture, community, and career pathways,” said Cannon Principal Tina Garrett. “Our pillars support engineering artifacts using the Design Thinking Process, which empowers our scholars to fail forward to solve problems.”

For this science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-focused campus, National Engineering Week was an opportunity to host a Family Engineering Night.

That evening, campus hallways were filled with building materials at workstations ready for the kindergarten-fifth grade students and their parents to test out projects, one of which was a marble run for second-grade students.

“Students will already have a plan that they made in their engineering notebooks,” said Cannon Learning Liaison Alejandra Paniagua. “Challenges were designed by our teachers because even though we look at our curriculum through a STEM lens, we still follow our district curriculum and make sure that the challenges we do have a direct and tight connection to our Texas standards.”

Material choices for the run included cardboard tubes, foam pool noodles and tape. For spheres, they could choose either a marble, toy basketball, or ping pong ball, all different sizes and weights. The sphere had to travel through a spinner that they also designed in class; roll through the run, which could only be as tall as the student’s reach; and end up in a cup.

“Like real-world engineers, we also have constraints,” Paniagua added. “The criteria and constraints guide students through the design and it also allows teachers to make sure that our students showcase their learning that is integrated within the challenge.”

Another challenge was a derby run for third graders. In preparation for the evening, teachers connected this activity to science and English language arts with students learning about how Henry Ford introduced the assembly line. Students then wrote a short response where they had to use reasoning skills to establish a claim of which was better – assembly lines or building individual cars.

“We are growing scholars that are going to fill that STEM career pipeline,” Garrett added. “It doesn’t end today. It really is about empowering them with skills to really fuel the K-12 to STEM pipeline.