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A Different Type of Sled


Purdue University is giving some Indiana elementary school students a whole new way to have fun with the term “sled.”

It’s all part of an effort to help the students discover that creativity, communication and teamwork are the fundamentals of solving problems in science and engineering.

Purdue’s Science Learning through Engineering Design (SLED) partnership project was conceptualized by Brenda Capobianco, associate professor in the College of Education, working with partner researchers in the colleges of Engineering, Science and Technology. The team of researchers helps elementary school teachers in grades 3 through 6 develop and implement science lessons using engineering design principles.

In a typical SLED lesson, students are given an imaginary client with a problem that requires an engineering design solution, and work together in small groups to solve the problem. They research background information, draw sketches and plans, build models, and give client presentations to the class.

“My third-grade students love being busy with SLED projects,” says Kara Fletcher, a Purdue alumna and teacher at Wea Ridge Elementary in Lafayette. “They ask good questions, find interesting resources, and develop solutions that are creative and thoughtful. I think this is the best way to learn science.”

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