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Designing Paper Baskets: A PictureSTEM Curriculum Module (P12 Resource Exchange)

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division: Curriculum and Resource Exchange

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Kristina Maruyama Tank Iowa State University

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Kristina M. Tank is an Assistant Professor of Science Education in the School of Education at Iowa State University. She currently teaches undergraduate courses in science education for elementary education majors. As a former elementary teacher, her research and teaching interests are centered around improving elementary students’ science and engineering learning and increasing teachers’ use of effective STEM instruction in the elementary grades. With the increased emphasis on improved teaching and learning of STEM disciplines in K-12 classrooms, Tank examines how to better support and prepare pre-service and in-service teachers to meet the challenge of integrating STEM disciplines in a manner that supports teaching and learning across multiple disciplines. More recently, her research has focused on using literacy to support scientific inquiry, engineering design, and STEM integration.

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Tamara J. Moore Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Tamara J. Moore, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education and Director of STEM Integration in the INSPIRE Institute at Purdue University. Dr. Moore’s research is centered on the integration of STEM concepts in K-12 and postsecondary classrooms in order to help students make connections among the STEM disciplines and achieve deep understanding. Her work focuses on defining STEM integration and investigating its power for student learning. Tamara Moore received an NSF Early CAREER award in 2010 and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2012.

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Elizabeth Gajdzik Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Elizabeth Gajdzik is the Assistant Director of the INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a specialization in mathematics and M.S.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in mathematics education from Baylor University. Prior to her work at INSPIRE, Elizabeth was a district mathematics instructional specialist in San Antonio, TX and a middle school mathematics teacher at a Title 1 school in Waco, TX.

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M. Terri Sanger Purdue University


Anastasia Marie Rynearson Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Anastasia Rynearson is a Purdue Doctoral Fellow pursuing a degree in Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received a B.S. and M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her teaching experience includes outreach activities at various age levels as well as a position as Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Kanazawa Technical College. Her current research interests focus on early P-12 engineering education and identity development.

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Brianna L Dorie Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Brianna Dorie is a postdoctoral researcher with INSPIRE at Purdue University. Her research interests center around broadening participation in engineering, learning in informal environments and STEM integration to improve learning. She also has taught and developed engineering curriculum for summer camps, after-school programs, K-2 classrooms, and first year engineering experiences.

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Emma Mann

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Emma F. Mann is an undergraduate student in multidisciplinary engineering at Purdue University. She has been working as a research assistant on the PictureSTEM project through the UPRISE program in the INSPIRE Research Institute. Her involvement with this project has furthered her understanding of engineering education so that she can make an impact on young learners in STEM when she is working as a professional engineer.

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Description of the Project The PictureSTEM Project is developing an instructional module at each grade level, K-5, which employs engineering/technology and literary contexts to integrate science and mathematics content instruction in meaningful and significant ways. These curricular units go through an extensive design research cycle to ensure a quality product.

Description of the Designing Paper Baskets Unit The specific module that will be presented is a 5-day unit geared towards the early elementary grades (K-2), which consists of five pairs of literacy and STEM integration lessons that work together to build the foundation for an engineering design challenge. Each of the lessons require approximately 30 minutes of class time and build upon each other. In the Designing Paper Baskets module, students explore patterns and investigate the strength and properties of paper before applying these concepts to design a paper basket.

At the resource exchange we will bring a hands-on display, a copy of the curriculum, and a flyer with electronic access to each of the modules to distribute to participants. An overview of the specific module, Designing Paper Baskets, that will be presented at the resource exchange is provided below:

Lesson 1 – After being introduced to the engineering design challenge, students look at different things that can be done with rocks as they read the book If you Find a Rock. This lesson introduces students to collecting rocks and why rocks can be fun and interesting, while also getting students to think about how rocks can be organized by size, color or use. After setting the context of rock collecting, students dive deeper into the science concept of physical properties as they explore the properties of paper samples that will be used during the design of their baskets.

Lesson 2 – Students are introduced to water as they learn about some of the properties through the nonfiction science text, I Get Wet. Through this text, students build their phonemic awareness skills while also learning about water. After reading part of the nonfiction text, students investigate water’s effect on different types of papers by conducting a water drop test on regular and wax-coated paper.

Lesson 3 – In this lesson, students continue to learn about the properties of water as they work to interactively create summary sentences about the nonfiction science text that they have been reading together. Students will then explore some of the ideas that they have about water and paper as they use rocks to test the strength of the different papers that will be available during the design challenge. Students will sort papers based on their strength when wet and when dry.

Lesson 4 – Students are introduced to rhyming and patterns through a book called Pattern Fish by Trudy Harris. After reading, connections are made between the patterns in basket weaving and the patterns presented through the book. This helps students to identify patterns used in simple basket weaving, and understand why alternating patterns are important, before use their knowledge of patterns to complete weavings in pairs. Students will also use the properties of paper to make decisions about which papers to use as they plan for their basket design.

Lesson 5 – In the final lesson, students read about construction engineering as they are practicing the blending of three phonemes words presented in the story. Students are given the chance to build and test their basket designs when wet and when dry, before a cycle of sharing, redesign and retesting. Finally, students use what they learned during designing and testing to write letters to Max and Lola in which they make recommendations for their basket design.

Tank, K. M., & Moore, T. J., & Gajdzik, E., & Sanger, M. T., & Rynearson, A. M., & Dorie, B. L., & Mann, E. (2016, June), Designing Paper Baskets: A PictureSTEM Curriculum Module (P12 Resource Exchange) Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26705

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: © 2016 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