Asee peer logo

Assessing Engineering Teaching Kits For Middle School Students

Download Paper |


2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

K-12 Outreach Initiatives

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.222.1 - 9.222.21



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Larry Richards

Download Paper |

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

Session 2530

Assessing Engineering Teaching Kits for Middle School Students

Larry G. Richards, Jesseca Flaherty, Jennifer Cunningham University of Virginia/the Rochester Institute of Technology/Charlottesville High School


At the University of Virginia (UVA), we have been developing engineering teaching kits (ETKs) to introduce engineering design to middle school students. This paper describes our strategies for assessing these ETKs and evaluating our entire program. So far, we have three sources of assessment information: classroom observations, teachers’ reactions to these materials including their willingness to use ETKs, and formal assessments conducted during a teachers’ workshop held at the University of Virginia in August of 2003. This paper reports the results of these assessments, and their implications for our continued work in this area.


The Virginia Middle School Engineering Education Initiative (VMSEEI) has been developing ETKs to introduce middle school students to engineering concepts and techniques. Each ETK emphasizes the engineering design approach to problem solving. We identify topics from science, math, and technology that have interesting engineering applications, and then help students learn science and math in the context of engineering design. Each ETK includes real-world constraints: budget, cost, time, risk, reliability, safety, and customer needs and demands, and each involves a design challenge that requires creativity and teamwork. 1

This project involves faculty and students at the University of Virginia (from both the Curry School of Education and the School of Engineering and Applied Science), teachers and students in local middle schools, and administrators and parents. So far over 150 middle school students have used these materials. Thirty-seven fourth-year Mechanical Engineering students participated in this project last year as part of a new senior design sequence; this year thirty-five new undergraduate students are involved. Eight middle school teachers have used these ETKs in classes so far, and, in August 2003, seventeen middle school teachers came to a workshop at UVA to evaluate our products and project.

The First Three ETKs:

In our initial Senior Design class, six teams undertook projects aimed at developing ETKs. Three were ultimately successful; our criterion for success was that the lesson plans were actually used in a middle school classroom. Three other teams achieved acceptable lesson plans, but failed to develop a meaningful Design Challenge. The two defining attributes of engineering teaching kits are: (1) they realize the guided inquiry approach to teaching science and math, 6, 7, 8 and (2) they teach the engineering design approach to problem solving. 5, 9, 10

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright 2004, American Society of Engineering Education”

Richards, L. (2004, June), Assessing Engineering Teaching Kits For Middle School Students Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--14130

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015