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A University/Public School Partnership In K 6 Engineering Education

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.122.1 - 9.122.7



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Paper Authors

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Judith Miller

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Joseph Rencis University of Arkansas

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1793

A University/Public School Partnership in K-6 Engineering Education Judith E. Miller, Joseph J. Rencis Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester MA 01609

Abstract Massachusetts introduced technology and engineering into its K-12 curriculum frameworks in 2001. With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and the Worcester Public Schools (WPS) have formed a partnership to develop technology/engineering curriculum materials for grades K-6 and to prepare teachers, who do not generally have a technical background, to implement them. The participants are WPI faculty, graduate fellows in engineering and science disciplines, undergraduate engineering and science students, and WPS elementary school teachers. This partnership is innovative because it is the first to address the Massachusetts technology/engineering frameworks in grades K-6.

Project Objectives NSF has a longstanding interest in addressing pipeline issues in technical education, and this program represents an opportunity to interest young children, especially girls and underrepresented students, in technical careers. The goal of the NSF Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) Program is to prepare engineering graduate students, not necessarily to become K-12 teachers, but to be informed about and engaged in K-12 education throughout their professional careers. Our project is titled "K-6 Gets a Piece of the PIEE (Partnerships Implementing Engineering Education)"; its objectives are to develop partnerships between WPS and WPI; to implement the technology/engineering portion of the Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Frameworks (MSTECF)(Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, n.d.) in grades K-6; and to develop curricular materials and prepare teachers so that the project is self-sustaining after the NSF grant expires.

Significance Competition for a limited number of potential engineering majors among institutions of higher education continues to increase, and the future need for scientists and engineers in the U.S. technological workforce far outstrips the anticipated supply. It is becoming increasingly crucial for both academic engineering departments and the U.S. technological workforce that women and minorities, who typically participate and persist in technical fields at much lower rates than white males, are attracted to technical fields in increasing numbers. Typically institutions of higher education attempt to address such “pipeline” issues by interventions targeted at middle and high school students. However, by middle school, students have generally formulated their attitudes toward math and science. Course choices made in middle school, particularly with respect to mathematics, set a student on a virtually irreversible trajectory with respect to preparation for college admission in technical fields. The logical place to intervene is in elementary school, when students’ career aspirations are relatively pliable. From a practical

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Miller, J., & Rencis, J. (2004, June), A University/Public School Partnership In K 6 Engineering Education Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13157

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