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Curriculum Development And Integration For K 6 Engineering Education

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Engineering in Elementary Schools

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.436.1 - 12.436.8



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Paper Authors


Megan Holmes Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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MEGAN HOLMES is a graduate student in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She received her Bachelors of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering in May 2005 from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and began working on the PIEE project in June 2005.

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Jill Rulfs Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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JILL RULFS is Associate Professor of Biology & Biotechnology at WPI. In addition to being a former public school teacher herself, she has remained active in university/public school partnerships. She has served as a consultant for the Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Institute on K-12 education and edited Biotechnology: The Technology of Life, a sourcebook for K-12 classroom teachers. Telephone 508-831-5786; email

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John Orr Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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JOHN A. ORR is Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at WPI. He is active professionally in the area of engineering education as well as in the technical field of geolocation systems. He was recently named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for his work in engineering education. Telephone 508-831-5723; email

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

Curriculum Development and Integration for K-6 Engineering Education

Abstract The state of Massachusetts has recognized the importance of introducing students to topics in engineering and technology at a young age in order to better develop the students’ understanding of these areas and to teach them how to utilize this knowledge throughout life. In 2001 Massachusetts instituted “Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Frameworks” for K- 6 classrooms. Massachusetts elementary teachers found themselves unprepared and uncertain of how to teach these subjects to their students. A three year grant from the National Science Foundation provided Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) with the resources necessary to assist Worcester Public Schools (WPS) in bringing technology and engineering into their elementary classrooms. Through the Partnerships Implementing Engineering Education (PIEE) program WPI faculty, graduate fellows, and undergraduate students worked closely with WPS teachers to develop a curriculum in grades K-6 that would address the Science and Technology/Engineering Frameworks and ensure that each year built upon concepts taught in the previous year. Graduate fellows and undergraduate students then helped the teachers bring that curriculum into the classrooms where they both assisted with teaching and also evaluated their lesson plans and activities. WPS teachers provided continuous feedback on which aspects of the new curriculum were and were not effective. The curriculum for each grade was created, tested with WPS students, evaluated, redesigned, and continuously reevaluated until finalized in the spring of 2006. Each curriculum is a compilation of many hands-on activities, thought provoking lessons, and interactive projects meant to highlight the importance of the engineering design process and to incorporate aspects of math, science, writing, and engineering. In the younger grades, primarily K-3, graduate fellows created storybooks to teach engineering concepts such as the engineering design process and simple machines. Individual activity books were created to accompany the stories and reinforce lessons discussed. At the end of the project an internet website ( was created, containing all of the hundreds of lesson plans developed for grades K-6, in an attempt to aid in efficient distribution of the curriculum to any interested teacher. The interactive, grade specific, curricula were met with enthusiasm by the WPS teachers and will provide a powerful resource to aid teachers looking to bring technology and engineering into the elementary classroom.

Introduction In the workplace, at home, and in the classroom technological advancements are being incorporated in order to increase efficiency, enhance productivity, and develop new and improved methods of reaching our goals. As engineering and technology continue to wind their way into every day life the ability for individuals to understand and utilize these topics is becoming increasingly important to one’s success in the professional world. A strong education in these fields is critical in not only instilling basic principles and concepts, but also in allowing students to appreciate their own potential for growth and success. While many high school programs exist to expose students to science, engineering, and technology, studies have shown

Holmes, M., & Rulfs, J., & Orr, J. (2007, June), Curriculum Development And Integration For K 6 Engineering Education Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2812

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: © 2007 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