The Westwood STEAM Lab is wrapping up a project after being selected to receive a Dyson Engineering Box from the James Dyson Foundation, on loan until November 30. The box is a free resource that allows students to take apart a Dyson machine and identify design clues to understand the engineering thinking behind how and why it works.
STEAM Teacher Ty Miller explained the engineering box harnesses students' curiosity for how things work. "Students are exposed to all the different types of engineers that it took to create a Dyson vacuum cleaner," he said. "After completing the lessons, students will understand the design process from the inside out, and they'll be ready to develop their own solutions to everyday problems."
Students also learned about the diversity of engineering jobs, hearing the lowdown from real Dyson engineers. As fifth grade student Eli Wells explained, the project "really brought you inside of the vacuum to show you how it was made and introduced you to all of the designers."
Fifth grade student Charlie Andersen said the project helped him learn to better focus on other projects in class and at home. "We looked for which screws needed to go back into the right slots because if we messed that up, it could mess up the plastic and not allow us to put something back on correctly or allow the vacuum to turn on," he explained. "It's kind of like coding—if you enter in the wrong part, the whole code will mess up. So that idea helps us to really focus on this project and in class."
Wells and Andersen both discussed how learning STEM was fun because it teaches you how to "design and build stuff," which is at the foundation of everything.
Andersen added that the real-world component is important. He said, "Let's say we do actually have a Dyson vacuum at home. We now know how to take it apart if it ever clogs or messes up."