#uasrobotics Week 2: Growth Mindset

Essential question: What is the link between “tinkering”, “hard play”, and the “growth mindset”?

The connection I made this week with tinkering, hard play (hard work) and growth mindset is:

Tinkering + Hard Play (Hard Work) = Growth Mindset

In the TED video The Power of Believing That You Can Improve, Professor Carol Dweck spoke on many important aspects about growth mindset. Dweck stated (2014), We should praise the process students are engaged in and praise the hard work and persistence. As I was watching Dweck’s TED talk I was thinking: So how do you teach growth mindset? And how do you help create growth mindset students? Much of what I found about “teaching” growth mindset sounds vaguely familiar to differentiated instruction (DI). Ideas like using intentional praise, formative feedback, and self-reflection are the same ideas I read about in a prior course while learning about DI. Creating a classroom environment where students feel safe to take chances. Learning that there is more than one way to solve a problem can also encourage growth mindset. According to Martinez & Stager (2013), “When we acknowledge that there may be many right answers to a question, it gives children permission to feel safe while thinking and problem solving… When we honor different kinds of learning styles it becomes acceptable to solve problems without fear.”

As I was reading about engineering in chapter two of Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom (Martinez & Stager 2013). I was reminded of the Engineering is Elementary (EiE) kits my school district has for teachers to check out for classroom use. EiE has some wonderful science kits that teach the engineering process:


EiE encourages students to take chances and if something fails to figure out what went wrong, fix it and make it better. EiE has a designing bridges unit. In the unit the students investigate different ways to build a bridge with columns and arches and how much weight bridges can hold. In the end the students are tasked with creating a bridge that can hold the most weight and stand up to a toy car being driven across it. The unit is started with showing students a video clip of the Seattle/Tacoma Bridge in 1940 during a 40 mile per hour windstorm. In the video the bridge sways and finally breaks, luckily no one is injured. It’s a great opening video to discuss that mistakes happen and things go wrong. However, just because engineers created a bridge that failed doesn’t mean they gave up. They figured out what was wrong, fixed it and now there is a bridge in Seattle that can withstand 40 mph wind.


Engineering is Elementary. Retrieved May 26, 2015, from http://www.eie.org/

Friedman, J. (2014, December, 6). Tacoma narrows bridge collapse. [Video]. Retrieved May 26, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkXl8JJBH7E

Heggart, K. (2015, February, 3). Developing a growth mindset in teachers and staff. Retrieved May 26, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/discussion/developing-growth mindset-teachers-and-staff

Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

Stuart, D. (2014, July, 24). For noncognitive skill development, start with growth mindset -Here’s how. Retrieved May 27, 2015, from http://www.teachingthecore.com/noncognitive-skill-development-growth-mindset/

TED Conferences, LLC. (2014). The power of believing that you can improve. Retrieved May 27, 2015, from http://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve?language=en


5 thoughts on “#uasrobotics Week 2: Growth Mindset

  1. Ali- I love that and that is an excellent connection.
    Tinkering + Hard Play (Hard Work) = Growth Mindset
    I agree that a grow mind set is similar to differentiated instruction.
    That is a good question how do you teach growth mindset? I think many things that we do already is part of growth mindset like encouraging, challenging, praising, and making sure students feel safe. Thanks for letting see the connection on tinkering, hard play and growth mindset.


  2. The Engineering is Elementary kits that your school has sound amazing! What a great resource you have available to you. What a fun way for student to explore building and engineering.

    I like your question about how to teach Growth Mindset. Growth Mind set is really having a can do attitude, working hard and persevering. I found a short video that is based off of Dweck’s research. Dr. Christine Carter describes a Fixed Mindset as nature and a Growth Mindset as nurture.



  3. Tinkering + hard play definitely leads to a growth mindset. The key piece is the hard play component. This is where growth mindset and fixed mindset part ways. Fixed mindset kids are often willing to work hard but there’s a limit to how far they’ll take it. I find this to be the biggest challenge when working with fixed mindset kids. When they struggle, it is often difficult to motivate them to persevere. As Carol Dweck mentioned, praise for effort and perseverance goes a long way. I try to do the same with my growth mindset students.

    The Tacoma Narrows bridge video was interesting to watch again. I saw that video for the first time in the early 80’s when I started engineering school. The physics of wind induced wave motion are fascinating and, in this case, powerful. When you view the footage looking down the road, you can see the center of the bridge remaining stationary while the sides oscillate. The crew that painted the center line down the road did a pretty good job hitting the middle. I can see how school kids would find this a fascinating way to start learning about engineering. Failure does indeed happen but it doesn’t mean we give up.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your comments about DI got me thinking about what makes a growth mindset different; I think as an educator, the strategies for both are similar. However, sometimes I find that when I differentiate instruction, I need to be aware of when fixed-mindset students use their differences to separate themselves from others. I see this too often when I “celebrate” or accommodate different learning styles; some students then only want to work with like-minded students and always in the same way. Sometimes it’s a trend of them being interested in something or prefer certain types of artifacts of learning then they move on to others. When they start to only prefer or default to the same types of groups, processes, and products regardless of the content, I try to shake it up for them and push them a bit to expand their horizons. Even differentiated instruction can promote a fixed mindset, so I try to “reset” the mindset of the group when we start a new activity or explore new content so that students can re-examine how best they learn in that context and challenge their assumptions and perspectives.

    Liked by 1 person

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