June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.489.1 - 12.489.10
Developing and Aligning Engineering Elements in an Elementary School’s Integrated Engineering Curriculum
Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Elementary School was built in 2003 in a predominantly ethnically isolated inner city neighborhood. Its location facilitated ethnicity integration without the aid of a district assigned plan. During its first year of operation, the school applied for and received a three year grant from the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) that provided additional resources to support its curriculum and faculty development. The school has a K-5 student population with no special enrolment criteria and definitely functions as a typical neighborhood school. It has more than 600 students and at least 3 classrooms at each grade level. Student talents and abilities are normally distributed and there is no grouping of mainstream students by sections, test scores, and/or perceived ability. Every teacher at each grade level is expected to present the same curriculum and the topics and order of these presentations is driven by lesson plans that are horizontally and vertically integrated. A unique aspect of the curriculum and therefore a demand on its professional development plan is the fact that the school does not have a specific engineering instructional period but integrates the engineering content throughout the science, language arts, mathematics and physical education standards driven component of its educational mission. This approach forces each teacher to find ways to use these subjects to strengthen the understanding of the engineering topics being taught which then, in turn, enrich the student’s core “reading, writing and arithmetic” learning experiences.
“Though children do engage in a naïve engineering of sorts, it can be the case that they do not hear the word engineer except in connection with railroad locomotives and do not know that their playful activity can be a lifelong profession. Grown-up engineering, which is as old as civilization, maintains the youth and vigor and imagination of a child. This is why, when presented to children on their own terms, the excitement of engineering is immediately apparent and fully comprehendible. There is no child too young to play and therefore to engage in engineering…”1
At Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Elementary Center for Mathematics and Engineering, we, too, hold these beliefs as a strong foundation to building an integrated engineering curriculum at the elementary school level. However, like Henry Petroski, we also believe it is not only important to make children aware that what they are doing is engineering in its simplest form, but that exposing them to beginning engineering elements and explaining the “whys” of what they are doing is also vital. This is the premise upon which our journey began four years ago.
Being an inner city school with a mixed socioeconomic population of kindergartners through fifth grade students, the staff of Jamerson needed to make sure they provided a variety of
Little, R., & Parsons, C., & Van Driessche, P., & Barger, M., & Parsons, K., & Gilbert, R., & O'Hare, D. (2007, June), Developing And Aligning Engineering Elements In An Elementary School's Integrated Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2274
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