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Curriculum Exchange: “The Art of Engineering”: a Four-Year Project-Based High School Curriculum

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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

CEIII Wrapup

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.359.1 - 23.359.7



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Paper Authors


Sandra Hull Seale UCSB

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Dr. Seale earned the B.S.E. in Civil Engineering from Princeton University in 1981, the S.M. in Civil Engineering from MIT in 1983, and the Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from MIT in 1985.
Dr. Seale is currently working as the Project Scientist and Outreach Coordinator for the Seismology Research Laboratory at UC Santa Barbara.

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Amir Muhsin Abo-Shaeer Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy

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Curriculum Exchange: “The Art of Engineering”: a Four-Year Project- Based High School CurriculumA teacher who is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship is implementing a newfour-year project-based STEAM curriculum. The program is designed to give students a real-world, interdisciplinary, project-based approach to learning. The program strives to create abalance between theory and application.The course sequence includes the following dedicated classes: • 9th Grade: Engineering Technology • 10th Grade: Engineering Sculpture and Design • 11th Grade: Engineering Physics • 12th Grade: Advanced Engineering Physics and FIRST Robotics (double-length class)All classes use project-based learning, i.e., the use of classroom projects to facilitate learning andassess student competence. This instructional method provides students with complex tasksbased on challenging questions or problems that involve the students’ problem-solving, decision-making, and investigative skills. Students develop valuable research and design skills. Project-based learning promotes new learning habits that emphasize creative thinking.During their first three years of study, 100 students per grade are enrolled in an integratedproject-based curriculum that collectively covers, in an interdisciplinary fashion, the contentcontained in 1) a standard laboratory science physics course, 2) a standard visual and performingarts sculpture course, and 3) an engineering elective course. These courses are taught by a teamof five teachers, who are credentialed in physics, visual and performing arts, and engineeringtechnology. Content is covered in a completely integrated, interdisciplinary fashion. Thesequence provides credit for a year each of physical science, visual arts, and an elective.Two projects will be presented here: 1) Students construct a hanging mobile. The sculpture has multiple moving parts and is colored to enhance the form. Elements and principles of design include line, shape, color, movement, balance, and space. Students use tools associated with engineering technology such as calipers, and electronic balances. Students calculate the force of gravity acting on each object and calculate all necessary torques and forces for balance. Students fabricate fasteners that allow elements of the mobile to be adjusted during assembly. 2) Students build a programmable light sculpture. The sculpture has a metal housing that is fabricated by the students. The sculpture consists of acrylic rods, which are machined by the students and then mounted in the housing. Students will use soldering irons, build a DC circuit board and wire the components together. The rods are lighted in color from below. The housing contains an Arduino computer that controls the timing and color changes of the sculpture. The students use the open-source Arduino platform to program their light sculpture.

Seale, S. H., & Abo-Shaeer, A. M. (2013, June), Curriculum Exchange: “The Art of Engineering”: a Four-Year Project-Based High School Curriculum Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19372

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