Importance of Project Planning

fore·sight

ˈfôrˌsīt/
noun
noun: foresight

the ability to predict or the action of predicting what will happen or be needed in the future.
synonyms: forethoughtplanning, farsightedness, visionanticipationprudencecarecautionprecautionreadinesspreparedness
“My lack of foresight has cost me dearly.”

Foresight is not a word I use typically when dealing with teenagers, so it is a skill I work hard to impart upon them in the STEM Stars course. When creating simple projects that already have step-by-step assembly, this is less important because the planning has already been done by the instructor. In STEM Stars, students are creating their own, personal, complex projects, and so the onus of planning falls on them. For many, this is the first time they have had to plan out their own project so this process is new and intimidating. Though it may seem tedious, students will quickly find just how much time, effort, money, and stress they can save themselves by learning to plan ahead when developing new projects.

Project planning involves many steps, but the basics are:

  1. Project proposal – allows students to share their ideas with me so I can help them plan
  2. Proof of concept plan – allows students to demonstrate the core principles of their projects and develop the core code needed for their final project before any parts are purchased, any major revisions can be done at this time
  3. Final project sketch – a detailed visual of their project plan that incorporates all parts, wiring, and design considerations before any final project development begins
  4. Bill of materials (BOM) / Parts Order – a well thought, well sourced list of parts that consider difficulty, time, and cost, this occurs in conjunction with final sketch
  5. One on one check ins with instructor at each phase

By designating a framework and time for students to plan each step of their project, students will begin to understand the process, and eventually the benefits of planning. Due to the self-driven nature of this course, without planning I cannot help guide students through their projects, so their projects will grind to a halt without it.

The intention in STEM Stars is to set students up for success, and that means forcing them to examine what a successful project will look like and how to get there. With a little foresight, I expect all students to achieve that success.

 

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