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Bringing Engineering Into K 12 Schools: A Problem Looking For Solutions?

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Standards Based Approaches to K -12 Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.288.1 - 11.288.16



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Paper Authors


Levelle Burr-Alexander New Jersey Institute of Technology

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LEVELLE BURR-ALEXANDER is the Project Manager for Instruction for the Educational and Training Institute for the Center for Pre-College Programs at NJIT. She has degrees in Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering, and is currently completing her Ed. D. in Curriculum Development and Systemic Change. Ms. Burr-Alexander has nearly two decades of experience in curriculum development and implementation of educational programs for educators and students in science, mathematics and technology.

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John Carpinelli New Jersey Institute of Technology

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DR. JOHN CARPINELLI is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and previously served as the coordinator of activities at NJIT for the Gateway Engineering Education Coalition and as a member of the Coalition’s Governing Board, is the author of the textbook, Computer Systems Organization and Architecture, which has been adopted for use at over 150 universities in the United States and over 25 countries, and currently chairs NJIT’s Master Teacher Committee.

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Ronald Rockland New Jersey Institute of Technology

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RONALD H. ROCKLAND is Associate Dean of the Newark College of Engineering of NJIT and Associate Professor in Engineering Technology, with a joint appointment in Biomedical Engineering. He received a B.E. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from New York University in 1967 and 1969, respectively, a Ph.D. in bioengineering from N.Y.U. in 1972, and an M.B.A. in marketing from the University of St. Thomas in 1977. He has over 20 years of industrial experience in research, engineering, marketing and sales management with several high technology corporations. His current research areas are application of computers to the technical learning process and biomedical signal analysis, as well as development of pre-engineering programs.

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Howard Kimmel New Jersey Institute of Technology

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HOWARD KIMMEL is Professor of Chemical Engineering and Executive Director of the Center for Pre-College Programs at New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has spent the past twenty-five years designing and implementing professional development programs and curricula for K-12 teachers in science and technology. At the college level, he collaborates on projects exploring teaching methodologies and assessment strategies in first year college courses in the sciences, engineering, and computer science.

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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?

1. Introduction

Over the next few years the demand for engineers is expected to increase three times faster than for all other occupations combined [1] 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 [2].

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 [3]. 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

Burr-Alexander, L., & Carpinelli, J., & Rockland, R., & Kimmel, H. (2006, June), Bringing Engineering Into K 12 Schools: A Problem Looking For Solutions? Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--181

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: © 2006 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