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Do you like using your imagination to build things that solve problems? If you do, you're thinking like an engineer! Learn how engineers identify and solve problems, then help Jessi with a big problem of her own!

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SOURCES:
http://www.nationalgeographic.org/media/nasa-kids-intro-engineering/
http://blogs.sbschools.org/gandtk/2016/03/08/deans-school-engineering-2/
http://www.eie.org/eie-curriculum/engineering-design-process
http://ciese.org/curriculum/engineering/backscratcher.html
https://www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/invent_a_backscratcher
You know how things are around here!

We’re always asking questions… 0:09...and building things...and using our imaginations...and learning! But today, we’re going to learn about people who get to do all of these things … all of the time.

We’re going to learn how to think like engineers! An engineer is a person who makes something that solves a problem. Ugh.

Excuse me for just a moment … OK, engineers make things that solve problems, and something that solves a problem is also called a solution. For example, let’s say there’s a city near a river, and across the river, there’s another city. People who live in one city need a way to cross the river to get to the other city!

To solve this problem, an engineer might design a bridge -- one that’s big and strong enough to safely hold a lot of people -- plus all of their bikes and cars -- as they go across the river. So the bridge would be the solution to the problem. Now, when they’re trying to find a solution to a problem, engineers don’t just make a bunch of guesses.

They follow a series of steps to come up with the best possible solution. Those steps are: ask, imagine, create, and improve! Let’s see what kind of work an engineer does in each of these steps.

First, asking means simply asking questions about the problem— lots of questions! These questions might be things like, “What is the problem?” “How will I know when I’ve solved it?” and “What can I use to solve the problem?” Engineers do the best they can to find answers to all of these questions. Then, they move on to the next step— They imagine.

I bet you’re good at imagining! And if you are, you’re already thinking like an engineer! Engineers have great imaginations— and they use them to think of many solutions to a problem.

In fact, they usually come up with a whole list of solutions. Sometimes, an engineer might draw a picture of each idea -- to see how it would fit together, and to help them imagine how it would work. Then, they pick the idea they think might work the best.

Gosh, excuse me again! Ok, next comes my favorite step. After engineers imagine some solutions, they create!

Usually, engineers will start by making a model of what their idea would look like in real life. A model is something that looks or acts like a thing in the real world. If you’ve ever used plastic bricks to make a building, then you’ve made a model of a building.

Building a model bridge, for example, takes a lot less time and money than building a real bridge. So an engineer can use the model to see if their idea actually works, and solves the problem. But even if the idea does work, engineers still aren’t done.

They look at the model very closely to see if they can improve it, or make it better in some way. In the case of the bridge, they might see if they can design a bridge that’s safer or stronger. And if their idea doesn’t work, engineers don’t give up!

They can use parts of their idea that did work to come up with a new one. Or they go back to their list of ideas and choose another one to build. So, those steps again, that all engineers use to solve all kinds of problems, are: ask, imagine, create, and improve!

Now, are you ready to start engineering? Good! Because we have a problem that needs a solution: My back is really itchy!

And it’s itchy in this weird spot right in the middle ...and I can’t reach it! I bet if we work together, we can think of a solution to this problem. So let’s take the same first step that engineers take, and ask some questions!

First, what is the problem? Well, I can’t reach where my back itches! That’s a problem!

So, let’s ask another question. How will we know if we’ve solved the problem? That’s easy!

When I can reach the itchy spot on my back and scratch it...then the problem is solved. Let’s ask one more question. What things do we have to use to make our solution?

Well, Squeaks and I looked around the Fort to see what we could find. We have a couple of rulers, some modeling dough, a pencil, a plastic fork, the cardboard roll left from a roll of paper towels, and some tape. These are some things we can use to come up with an idea.

Okay, let’s move on to step two: Imagine. It’s time to put our thinking caps on to see what kinds of back scratchers we might be able to make. Squeaks and I each are going to take some time and draw a picture of a solution that we think might work.

Why don’t you use that time to do the same thing? Then, the next time we meet, we can share our ideas, and then do the next steps that engineers do...we’ll build our back scratchers, test them to see if they solve the problem...and then improve them to see if we can make them even better! But don’t take too long!

My back is really itchy!! But thanks for joining me on SciShow Kids! If you have a question for us, ask a grownup to help you to leave a comment on this video, or to send an email to kids@scischow.com!