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Art and Engineering in Kindergarten (RTP)

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Pre-College Engineering Education Division Technical Session 15

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Diane Elisa Golding University of Texas at El Paso

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Diane is an educator and proponent for K-12 engineering education and the education of future teachers.She is an assistant professor at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Diane serves as the director for the UTEP YES! She Can program that support minorities and minorities within minorities in personal and STEM self-efficacy. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from UTEP and holds a doctorate from the Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California.

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Heather Kaplan University of Texas El Paso

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Art and Engineering in Kindergarten (RTP) This paper explores the meaningful connection that art plays in engineering solutions for young children. The researchers, from a university worked with three kindergarten classes in the setting of a makerspace, a place to tinker, filled with an assortment of materials that are available for students to solve open-ended questions. Makerspaces, also known as, hackerspaces, Do it Yourself (DIY) and maker labs or fablabs have grown in popularity in upper grade levels, and higher education settings. Recently, interest in makerspaces for early childhood education is developing and the researchers entered a rural community, minority-serving elementary school through the creation of a university makerspace. Why the need for makerspaces, though, in early childhood education? Kindergarten once was the playground for exploration and learning to interact socially with others; however, this has changed. U.S. News (2016) reported that Kindergarten has become the new 1st grade and this is clear in the Texas state standards’ emphasis on core subjects. Thus, researchers sought to engage students in cross curricula learning that included exploration, critical thinking and the design process. We began with the tale of the Creepy Carrots, a story about a field of carrots who want to keep Jasper Rabbit from eating them all up by ‘haunting’ him (this story, found HERE, was read with students in the fall close to Halloween). Students were then asked to think about the problem (how they would keep the carrots from shadowing and frightening poor Jasper Rabbit) followed by collaborative brainstorming and creating and testing the solution. For these approximately 60 students, art was essential to the process of designing a solution. Using markers students sketched ideas/drew up plans for how they would contain the creepy carrots. Then they used a variety of art and simple materials to the build structures. Each of these actions straddled design process common to both art and engineering. This research project brings into question what the implications are as art in the state curriculum is fading and each grade level offers less and less opportunity to explore art as an important part of the design process, a process that is not included in the state elementary school state standards. Juxtaposed with 21st century skills needed to successfully compete for 21st century jobs, among which are creativity and critical thinking, engineering and art education emerge as critical content areas to students’ success in our state, across the U.S. and the world.

Golding, D. E., & Kaplan, H. (2021, July), Art and Engineering in Kindergarten (RTP) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36699

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