Music

Engineer

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Engineer
copyright 2013 by Tim Griffin

I want to build a pyramid
Just like the ancient Egyptians did
Moving mighty stones over water and sand
Maybe ten thousand workers under my command
Master the math and geometry
Make it rise into the sky for all the world to see
Build it to last five thousand years
Oh, I want to be an engineer

I’ll build a highway to every state
Great big bridges like the Golden Gate
I’ll build a mighty fine road of concrete and steel
And then I’ll go and build myself an automobile
Drive everywhere and everywhere I go
I can even engineer the traffic flow
All the other drivers gonna clap and cheer
Oh, I want to be an engineer.

No, nobody else can do
All the things an engineer can do
Any good mind can make a design
But it takes an engineer to make it come true

You say you want to fly somewhere?
I can build a plane that’ll take you there
Or if you’re going to the moon or maybe to Mars
You know I’m working on a rocket, gonna get to the stars
Any old place that you wanna go
You know you’re gonna need an engineer to make it so
If you want to make things, I’ll make it clear,
Then you want to be an engineer!

No, nobody else can do
All the things an engineer can do
Any good mind can make a design
But it takes an engineer to make it come true

We engineer the world each day
Maybe even engineer your DNA

If you want to make things, I’ll make it clear,
Then you want to be an engineer!

If you want to make things, I’ll make it clear,
Then you want to be an engineer!

Print Notes Notes

When I was little, I thought I knew what an engineer was: he’s the guy sitting at the front of the train, right? So recently, when I learned that the NGSS would include a whole new strand on engineering and technology, I thought I should write a song for the little kids about some of the things engineers do. This demo includes my friends Jeff and Brian on some improvised backup vocals; those guys can sing!

Suggestions for the classroom:
Here are some fun, easy projects to introduce kids to some of the things engineers do.

-Civil/structural engineering: each kid gets about 1/4 pound of mini-marshmallows (the kind you put in cocoa), about 50 toothpicks, and a paper plate. Build the tallest structure you can; have rulers available for measuring. Allow kids to do some research on tall structures such as the Eiffel tower and Seattle’s Space Needle. Advanced: you can vary this by changing materials or complicating the task. How about a bridge of popsicle sticks and glue? A trebuchet of dry angel hair pasta and gumdrops? Get creative.

-Aeronautical engineering: build paper planes and test how far they will fly, how long they stay airborne, how well you can get them to land on a target such as a desk, etc. Tons of measuring here. There are lots of designs available on the web; one good site for building planes is www.funpaperairplanes.com. Note that kindergartners may have trouble folding paper to make even simple planes, so you may want to have some planes made ahead of time (collaborate with an upper grade teacher for this) for them to test.

-Electrical engineering: buy some AA batteries, cheap speaker wire, flashlight bulbs, LED’s, door buzzers, and alligator clips. Let kids play around and try to make circuits. Mishaps may result in the occasional minor shock, so I suggest making latex gloves available for kids.

-Nuclear Engineering: assign simple tasks with the added complication that your engineers have to keep themselves a minimum distance away from the activity once it begins. Example: design and build a machine to lift a cinderblock three feet off the floor without you coming within ten feet of the block. Why ten feet? Because the cinderblock is radioactive, that’s why. (Note: we’re just pretending it’s radioactive; we do not bring actual radioactive materials into the classroom. And yes, I did once have to explain this to a worried parent.)

-Solar engineering: use aluminum foil; design and build a simple solar oven. Bake cookies.

-Hydraulic engineering: connect some simple PVC pies and vales to get running water from here to there.

Always put safety first! Note that you can hit a bunch of different math standards with these if you require kids to measure, record, and present their results. HAVE THE KIDS MAINTAIN A JOURNAL OF ALL ENGINEERING TASKS with labeled diagrams, writing, measurements, predictions, results, etc. Now you’re hitting the language arts standards as well! This is a great way to integrate science into the other curricula.


Here are some standards from the Common Core, NGSS, and state of California addressed by this song and the activities above:

Kindergarten:
K-2-ETS1-1. Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
K-2-ETS1-2. Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
K-2-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
K-PS2-1. Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object.
K-PS2-2. Analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or direction of an object with a push or a pull.
SL.K.3 Ask and answer questions in order to seek help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood.
MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
K.MD.A.1 Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object.
K.MD.A.2 Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/”less of” the attribute, and describe the difference.
K-PS3-1. Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface (i.e. a solar oven).
W.K.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects.

First Grade
K-2-ETS1-1. Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
K-2-ETS1-2. Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
K-2-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.

Second Grade
K-2-ETS1-1. Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
K-2-ETS1-2. Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
K-2-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
2-PS1-1. Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties (i.e. building things with toothpicks, pasta, etc).
2-PS1-2. Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.
2-PS1-3. Make observations to construct an evidence-based account of how an object made of a small set of pieces can be disassembled and made into a new object.



Chords: E, B, A, G#, C#m; I throw in some sevenths on all chords except for the A for added texture. When I'm feeling extra saucy, I do this song on a tenor ukulele.