Harvey “Buddy” Habeck is on a mission to bring engineering into the classroom in innovative and fun ways. Engineering Technology is a new class for his middle school, and it’s an important one.
“Kids are losing touch with the basics of engineering,” he said. “This is a problem, since engineering is one of the oldest professions in the world. Society requires things that are designed and built. Long before there were engineers, there were engineering principles.“
“We can make it a ton of fun without making it mathematical. The key is to make it engaging for students,” he said.
According to Mr. Habeck, 7th grade is prime time to teach engineering. The fundamentals are already there. His class just stretches students to get them into the realm of application.
Supplies in hands-on learning are of utmost importance. In addition to grading, lesson planning, and working with students after hours, Mr. Habeck spends hours every weekend focusing on scrounging and procuring supplies. Recycling and reusing items and searching for the cheapest price save him some funds, but the budget for his class is minimal.
“We have a huge amount of consumables in my class,” he explains. “I just spent $40 on hot glue sticks and they’re gone after one project. I do this project four times per year so that is $160 each year. We have to use hot glue so we do not have to wait for projects to dry overnight. The reality is, you have to keep the ball rolling in class because if the house isn’t moving, the house is burning. If I don’t have them busy, they’re going to do something else with their time. “
From wheels to electronics to spring scales, Mr. Habeck’s class is not from the book and it adds up. The good news is that it’s making a difference for his students.
“When I started I wasn’t very good at engineering, but I’m getting better at it,” said one student, Madison. “We have activities and we learn how to build things. It’s fun. It’s not very fun when you only have a book. Kids just look for the answers. In this class, we have activities and we know how to interact. We get to see how things in the real world actually work.”
Mr. Habeck is invested in the future of his students; not just as an educator, but for the bigger picture.
“When I talk about the future with my students, I don’t ask them what they want to be when they grow up,” he says in his AdoptAClassroom.org description. “I ask them what problems do they want to solve. Engineering equips students with the tools they’ll need to investigate and solve problems. Our job is to prepare students to be ready for the challenge.”
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