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An Engineering Linkage To K 12 Teachers

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.161.1 - 6.161.6



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Paper Authors

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Melinda Gallagher

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Jenny Golder

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Lawrence Genalo

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

Session 3453

An Engineering Linkage to K-12 Teachers Lawrence J. Genalo, Melinda Gallagher, Jenny Golder Iowa State University


Engineering faculty at Iowa State University have worked collaboratively with teacher education faculty since 1996 to offer an undergraduate course entitled Toying with Technology to elementary and secondary education majors1, 2. The development of this technology literacy course provided students with an appreciation for the technological innovations that surround them. Studies have shown that students form many of their overall career and educational attitudes as early as elementary school. Elementary (and even secondary) schoolteachers who have an appreciation for technology will likely convey that appreciation to their students. This will, in turn, broaden the horizons of these students regarding the opportunities they may have regarding careers in scientific and engineering disciplines. Engineering faculty believe the Toying with Technology course is a component of the long-term recruitment of K-12 students, particularly minorities and women, into technology-based fields3, 4, 5.

This course is designed to explain the principles behind many of the technological innovations in wide use today via a collection of hands-on laboratory experiences based upon simple systems constructed out of LEGOs and controlled by small computers. These laboratory experiences are designed to lead students, literally by their hands-on experimentation, through the use of technology in support of many everyday activities. The lab experiences are simple enough to isolate and illuminate the underlying basic principles and yet complex enough to represent real-world examples. Students typically design and construct simple models of real-world systems, including an elevator and its controller, a garage door and its opener, a computer-controlled car, and a house security system. A significant portion of this course is the many field experiences involving K-12 students being facilitated in mobile robotics exercises by the pre-service teachers. The literature in recent years shows numerous papers on mobile robotics1, 2, 6-8, many using LEGOs. There also are many references to engineering outreach efforts3-5, 8-12.

During the summer of 2000 a graduate course incorporating these mobile robotics and scanning electron microscope exercises was offered to in-service teachers and teacher education graduate students. Several of the in-service teachers who took this course are now partnered with the current undergraduate students to provide an on-going relationship among the practicing teacher, the pre-service teachers, the K-12 students, and the engineering faculty. In effect, the practicing teacher’s classroom becomes the laboratory for the Toying With Technology course.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Gallagher, M., & Golder, J., & Genalo, L. (2001, June), An Engineering Linkage To K 12 Teachers Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9201

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