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Designing Engineering Curriculum for Pre-Service Teachers in preparation for NGSS: Medical Mission Drop (Curriculum Exchange)

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-College Engineering Division Curriculum Exchange

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.377.1 - 24.377.2



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Paper Authors


Anne Marie Bergen Cal Poly State University

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Anne Marie Bergen’s teaching philosophy “Active Learning, Meaningful Experiences, and Compassionate Teaching,” sets her foundation for inspiring students and teachers to drive their own learning and gain a greater understanding for the world around them.
Anne Marie discovered the natural connection students had to experiential learning when she was an intern at Sonora’s Foothill Horizons Outdoor School, leading hiking classes for sixth-grade students and their teachers. She went on to become head naturalist at Foothill Horizons and later performed a variety of roles in Oakdale schools, including GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) teacher/coordinator, district science mentor teacher, elementary science specialist, and district science fair coordinator. During her final ten years in the Oakdale Joint Unified School District, Anne Marie was the District Science teacher /coordinator creating a science program that was laboratory and field based reaching over 2500 students and 120 teachers annually. Currently she is the Science Teaching Specialist for the Liberal Studies Department, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She has a B.S. in Biology from Cal Poly, multiple subject credential from Chapman, and M.A. in Educational Leadership from St. Mary’s.
Honors include: 2010 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, Cal Poly Commencement Speaker 2009, Cal Poly Honored Alumni 2008, Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence 2006, California Teacher of the Year in 2003, Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year 2002. She has created many grant funded programs including From the River to the Tap, the Salmon Project, and Passport to Science.
Anne Marie has been a presenter at conferences including the Association of Environmental and Outdoor Educators, the California Science Teachers Association, and the National Science Teachers Association. Her leadership in science education includes Chair of the California Teacher Advisory Council (CalTAC) and Advisory Council member for CSL Net.

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Katherine C. Chen California Polytechnic State University

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Katherine Chen is a Professor and Chair of the Materials Engineering department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She has been involved in many different K-12 engineering outreach activities, from summer camps to classroom visits to after-school programs, and to working with pre-service teachers.

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Designing Engineering Curriculum for Pre-Service Teachers in preparation for NGSS (Curriculum Exchange)In preparation for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a team of teachers, scienceeducators, science professors, and engineering professors at a comprehensive polytechnicuniversity are collaboratively developing engineering modules for pre-service teachers in theLiberal Studies major. These engineering modules are designed to expose future teachers to thefield of engineering and to serve as examples of hands-on activities that could later be used intheir K-12 classrooms. The associated pedagogy of open-ended design challenges in meaningfulcontext and the iterative engineering design cycle are also part of the curriculum. Hands-onengineering design activities are to be integrated into the existing 3-course science sequence forLiberal Studies majors over the course of their first year.The start of the engineering curriculum involves having the pre-service teachers generate userpersonas of a scientist and an engineer. This activity reveals similarities and differences ofscience and engineering, including misconceptions and stereotypes. Students will also gainexperiences of learning and doing science vs. engineering. Within the Physical Sciences course,pre-service teachers learn about forces, air resistance, and drag, but are also introduced to anengineering design challenge (adapted from an Engineering is Elementary module). A medicaldrop mission is announced, and teams must design a parachute to drop sensitive medicalequipment and personnel into a remote village recuperating from a devastating tsunami. Theequipment must not be broken and medical personnel must survive the drop, and thus a slowdrop rate is desired. Students are asked to first brainstorm the most important factors to designthe parachute for this application. A set of materials is made available for prototype testing andfor final design builds.The in-class parachute activity is broken into 3 phases, and occurs over 2 days of class. The firstphase involves 3 types of jigsaw groups to examine the effect of the parachute canopy size, thecanopy material, and the suspension line length. For this phase, the groups investigate only onedesign variable on the effect of drop speed. The second phase of the activity has the teamsreassemble with different jigsaw experiences to share results and combine their efforts to designand build the optimal parachute. However, a parachute packing score is also introduced todemonstrate the trade-offs that occur in most engineering designs. The parachute and suspensionlines are constrained by size, and a calculation is made to represent the packing efficiency. Theteams then test their designs, before the third phase of improving the parachute design. A debriefof the activity is done with the entire class. In addition, each team is asked to reflect on theirprocess of the design activity and to construct their own representation of the engineering designprocess, and to share it with the rest of the class.Parachute designs, activity handouts, and assessment results will be shared at the CurriculumExchange.

Bergen, A. M., & Chen, K. C. (2014, June), Designing Engineering Curriculum for Pre-Service Teachers in preparation for NGSS: Medical Mission Drop (Curriculum Exchange) Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20268

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