June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
11.288.1 - 11.288.16
Bringing Engineering into K-12 Schools: A Problem Looking for Solutions? Abstract
Increasing the presence of engineering in K-12 education has become a high priority. Most middle and high school students and many of their teachers still do not have a positive attitude towards engineering or do not really know what engineers do. How do we meet this challenge of bringing engineering into K-12 classrooms?
Two different approaches can be visualized for bringing engineering concepts and principles to these populations: 1) Introduce engineering as a “stand-alone” subject in the schools. 2) Integrate engineering concepts and applications into the different content areas in the curriculum.
Curriculum materials and instructional strategies are available for either approach. However, there are also issues to be considered for each approach that are common to both approaches. It is important to understand both the scope and the constraints of these intertwined issues.
This study examines the two approaches within the context of these issues, including: • Working within National and State academic content standards in various content areas including technology. Is standards alignment merely a referencing of the standards in the lessons, or a process of relating learning objectives to the skills and knowledge being specified by the standards? • Clarifying teacher certification and qualifications in the different states. In many states, certification is confusing and inconsistent (e.g., a chemical engineer is denied certification to teach chemistry). • Recognizing the need for appropriate quality teacher preparation programs. Are there a sufficient number of teacher preparation programs to put qualified and knowledgeable teachers in our classrooms?
Over the next few years the demand for engineers is expected to increase three times faster than for all other occupations combined  but the number of students pursuing careers in engineering is not increasing adequately to meet this demand. In fact the number of students completing baccalaureate degrees in engineering has increased very little over the last decade .
Engineering plays a major role in shaping the world today. Yet many bright, capable students choose not to pursue sciences in high school, and therefore have no opportunity to enter high paying engineering and technology careers . Engineering appears to be invisible to students. Many secondary school students lack an understanding of how almost everything they use is dependent on various forms of engineering. They also are unaware of the benefits that engineering provides people in their daily lives. Yet all around us, from developing consumer goods, building a network of highways, air and rail travel, to creating artificial devices such as
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