TSA Advances Tech-Ed in the Elementary Classroom

By Brian Dunne –

The goal is to get a little technology to every fourth grade elementary class in the Penn Manor district by the end of this year.

Sean McKnight, Penn Manor technology teacher and a few high school kids from the TSA (Technology Student Association) are teaming up once a month at elementary schools throughout the Penn Manor district. Their goal is to introduce engineering to elementary kids while taking it down to the elementary level so younger kids can get engaged and perhaps be interested in a technology field in their future.

McKnight teaching tech-ed to fourth graders. Photo by Brian Dunne

The students in Wayne Martin’s fourth grade class were all put into groups and were all instructed to create water sheds with meat plates, straws and Turkey Hill bottles. The focus of the project was to obtain as much water in the bottle as possible, but also to block as much debris as possible.

Maeve Snyder, TSA President, and one of the student helpers, was very enthusiastic about the whole project.

“I think it’s cool that kids get to solve problems, that’s a really good experience to have,” said Snyder.

Research says at this age students are most receptive to this kind of information because they’re still willing to learn and are still very creative.

“Students have moved to being consumers rather than being problem solvers,” said McKnight. “Students are not creative like they once were.”

The students discussed some key topics before creating their projects and went over the five step loop called the technology design loop. They talked about things like procedures, consumption, conservation, brainstorming, stating the problem and identifying the problem.

The fourth graders loved working with technology. Photo by Brian Dunne

The design loop is the base of just about every tech problem, and it’s what McKnight used for his demonstration.

The five steps were:

Step 1. What is the problem?

Step 2. Brainstorm solutions

Step 3. Create the solution you think is best

Step 4. Test your solution

Step 5. Evaluate your solution

Billy Burke, a fourth grade student for Martin, thought that the project was pretty fun.

“I like that we were actually experimenting. I like to build science experiments,” said Burke.

This is the first tech-ed program for elementary schools in the state of Pennsylvania, according to McKnight.

He said the goal is to introduce this once to all of the fourth grade teachers and students, and eventually make it part of the curriculum for years to come.