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Bridging Engineering, Science, and Technology (BEST) for Elementary Educators

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.250.1 - 23.250.19



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Paper Authors


Erin M Fitzgerald Museum of Science

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Erin Fitzgerald is a senior professional development/curriculum associate on the EiE Professional Development team. She received her S.B. from MIT in Literature with a Minor in Mechanical Engineering, and received her M.Ed. from Marquette University in Educational Policy and Leadership with a focus in Secondary Math Education. Prior to joining EiE, Erin was a corps member in Teach for America. While at Teach for America, she taught high school math in Milwaukee, WI in both the public and private school systems and led trainings for first and second year Milwaukee math teachers.

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Christine M Cunningham Museum of Science Orcid 16x16

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Bridging Engineering, Science, and Technology (BEST) for Elementary EducatorsTo increase the technological literacy of all our citizens engineering and technology need to beeffectively taught in schools K-12, but especially in the early elementary school years.Unfortunately, the instruction that future elementary teachers receive in engineering andtechnology is almost non-existent. Developing future teachers’ understandings of engineeringand technology, as well as their close connections to science and mathematics, is critical if theyare to prepare their students for the 21st century. Community colleges play a crucial role ineducating elementary teachers. It is estimated that one-fifth of future teachers begin their studiesat community colleges, and approximately 40% of teachers in the United States have completedsome or all of their math and science coursework at a community college.The Bridging Engineering, Science, and Technology (BEST) for Elementary Educators projectworks with education and science faculty from Massachusetts community colleges and theirfour-year transfer colleges to implement engaging STEM content in science courses andeducation methods courses. This paper will describe how the faculty involved in BEST work tounpack engineering content by engaging students in engineering activities, to model problem-based pedagogical strategies for preservice students, and to make clear the connections betweenscience, technology, engineering, and math. It will also detail some models EiE staff havedeveloped to support faculty and encourage peer-to-peer interaction.Evaluation of the BEST project has focused on faculty response to the grant (collected primarilythrough surveys and focus groups), as well as effects on students (collected through pre- andpost-assessments). Results have shown that exposure to engineering and technology topics hasimproved both faculty and college student attitudes towards engineering: • Engineering is now present in about 20% of the courses taught by the participating faculty—up from no engineering at all before participation in the BEST project. • Both faculty and preservice teachers value the engineering materials and their integration into the course content for students. • Both faculty and preservice teachers have expressed greater confidence in teaching concepts related to engineering and technology. • Preservice teachers reported positive experiences with implementing engineering in their student teaching. • After exposure to engineering concepts and projects, not just the preservice teachers but also the participating college students who were not education majors became more likely to respond to statements about engineering in a way that resembled practicing engineers’ responses to the same engineering statements. Work on this grant has revealed the need to further explore the strategies faculty use to integrate engineering and technology concepts into their courses, as well as the likelihoodthat these course changes are sustainable and will continue after the conclusion of the grant.Grant staff plan to address these questions through development of a new student pre- andpost-assessment, and through faculty reflections on the implementation of disseminationplans they developed to spread the work done in the BEST grant throughout their college.

Fitzgerald, E. M., & Cunningham, C. M. (2013, June), Bridging Engineering, Science, and Technology (BEST) for Elementary Educators Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19264

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