Recognizing a void in Kuwait for such programs, Dr Mona A Al Shaikh, a mother of four, and professor decided to fill the gap by introducing an innovative after school program for children, Engineering for Kids. Kuwait Moms Guide spoke with Ms Al Shaikh to learn more about Engineering for Kids and how its raising the profile of STEM study in Kuwait.
KMG: What is Engineering for Kids?
Al-Shaikh: Engineering for Kids offers project based engineering programs for children ages 4 to 14 introducing them to S.T.E.M (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) through a variety of workshops all aimed at developing problem solving skills. Programs include after school programs, evening classes, in-school field trips, workshops, birthday parties, home-school programs, scouts workshops, and pre-school programs.
KMG: How does it differ from other children's after school camps and activities?
Al-Shaikh: Engineering provides a broader aspect for kids to learn about each field of engineering and grow interest on what makes everything work around them in a fun environment.
KMG: Can children as young as 3 or 4 really learn engineering principals? How will these activities help children in their academics or future?
Al-Shaikh: Never under estimate children’s ability to learn and absorb information. At that age they learn quickly. It opens its imagination and expand their creativity by teaching them project based engineering though fun games and simple programming
KMG: Describe a typical activity. How do children participate? What do they learn? What does the role of 'hands on' learning play in your activities?
Al-Shaikh: For example one of our programs is robotics for ages 4-14 years old Robotics Wedo (kids up to age 7) and EV3 (kids 8 and above) is a fantastic, simple-to-use cross-curricular tool that enables students to learn, construct and then bring their models to life using intuitive programming easy drag-and-drop software. An ideal product for teaching in different subjects at primary levels, it can be applied to language and literacy, math and various engineering, design and technology-based subjects. At the same time students will develop and improve different communication, collaboration and team-building skills
KMG: What is meant by 'project based learning'? How does it promote critical thinking, hands on learning and self-directed inquiry?
Al-Shaikh: Engineering literacy is the understanding of how technologies are developed via engineering process all our lessons are project based. PBL is instead of teaching kids theories and principles through books we teach them the same concepts through activities. Our program promotes critical thinking by teaching children to explore and use their motor skills and scaffold their experience to allow them to discover on their own what they have to do. Also our program can promote hands on learning & self-directed inquiry. Kids ages 4 to 14 are introduced to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education.
At Engineering for Kids, our programs:
• Help children build problem solving skills
• Encourage kids to discover how things work
• Increase kids' desire to explore engineering as a career option
• Motivate kids to learn math and science concepts by engaging them in real-world engineering problems
KMG: How are children encouraged to explore, experiment and question? Do they do more than just follow sets of directions? What about creativity? How is it encouraged and developed?
Al-Shaikh: While they are building, they have to follow steps, further they have to use the engineering design process and improve their own creation.
KMG: Engineering for Kids seems like an interesting and useful program. Can you tell us where you came up with the idea and why you thought it would work for the Kuwait society?
Al-Shaikh: It’s a franchise from the United States, and I thought that the Kuwait society would enjoy such a new program because we don’t have this type of program in Kuwait, which include using the STEM method (Science – Technology – Engineering and Math)
KMG: What are the academic benefits of Engineering for Kids programs? What are the qualifications of the instructors?
Al-Shaikh: To use their own creativity and advance their critical thinking skills. Most of them are AUK engineering students, so they have had training in each program provided.
KMG: Tell us about the Winter Engineers Club? What ages? Times? Activities? Fees? Dates? (I've included some details below, but pls confirm and add or change as needed).
Program : Civil Engineer
Date: 11th of January 2015 to 1st of Feb 2015
Duration :4 weeks
Time: 5:00 to 6:30pm
Junior Engineer : age 4 to 6 - 150KD
Apprentice Engineer : 7 to 10 - 200KD
Master Engineer : 11 to 14 - 230KD
Engineering winter camp
Started on 21st of December till 30th of December for 4 hours from 10 AM to 2 PM for age 4-14 years old.
Activities will be flashlight builder – Electrical engineering
Marshmallow bridge – Civil engineering
Straw rockets – Aerospace engineering
Cartesian Diver – marine engineering
Candy catapults – Mechanical engineering
Green Boating – environmental engineering
Including Robotics for 45 mins every day
Junior & Apprentince Engineers 120 KD
Master engineers 140 KD….
Total of more than 30 hours of FUN.
KMG: What should parents consider before enrolling their children in the Engineering for Kids program? What if your child has difficulty with focus or a short attention span?
Al-Shaikh: Their kids should be in the proper age from 4 – 14 yrs old and it will be much better if the kids are already interested in what we provide. also our programs helps kids to focus and improve their memory skills too.
For more information, email: Kuwait@engineeringforkids.net
USA website: www.engineeringforkids.com
Kuwait Website: www.kidsengineering.com.kw
Locations: Al Hamra Tower , 2nd Location in Salmiya The View Mall (Grand opening April 2015)
Contact number: +96599244404