June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
13.397.1 - 13.397.16
Developing Lifelong Learning Skills for Middle School Teachers: Devising Their Own Engineering and Science Hands-on Activities Introduction
Universities and organizations often provide K-12 teachers with sets of science and engineering experiments for their classes, but this is not enough - teachers need to learn how to devise their own hands-on activities, based on the needs of their curriculum and their students. Through use of the “Design Loop,” middle school teachers are taught how to design their own active learning engineering and science activities at a two-week Summer Institute at the University of Arkansas’ College of Engineering. This paper details techniques used in year 2 of the Summer Institute and the program evaluation survey results.
At the Summer Institute, teachers were first introduced to the “Design Loop,” and the similarities and differences of problem solving in science, engineering and engineering technology. They were then given several hands-on open-ended problems to solve in small teams. Early in the workshop, teachers typically solved the problems using a trial-and-error approach. However, as the workshop progressed, the teachers more readily adopted an engineering approach to solving problems. Finally, the teachers were asked to design and prepare their own open-ended exercises for use in their classrooms. By the end of the workshop, the teachers had developed and tested 20 of their own open-ended experiments, critiqued and improved the designs of others and had learned the skills to develop an unlimited number of their own hands-on engineering and science activities. This work is funded by the Arkansas Department of Education through the U.S. Department of Education’s Math-Science Partnership Program.
The National Science Foundation recognized the need to introduce a larger and more diverse student population to engineering and science in middle school or earlier to increase the number of students entering the engineering disciplines.6 Most students in the middle level grades (6th, 7th, and 8th) are unaware of engineering and are not socialized to recognize engineering as a good and rewarding career option. Typically, these teachers and students are not exposed early or often enough to employing critical thinking and science for solving engineering problems in the real world.
Many K-12 teacher development initiatives involve providing teachers with activity sets that they can repeat in their classrooms. This technique has been met with limited success, resulting in teachers actually utilizing few of the activities. Teachers are often uncomfortable with experiments and activity principles they may not fully understand.13, 14 With the No Child Left Behind legislation, teachers may be unclear how an activity fits within the legislation frameworks and guidelines, so they do not include such activities in their lesson plans.
With the “Design Loop” method described in this paper, teachers learn how to devise their own fun and creative hands-on engineering activities, based on the needs of their curriculum and students – activities of which they feel “ownership” and will truly use in their classrooms. To
Davis, S., & Hill, B., & Gattis, C., & Dearing, B., & Clausen, E. (2008, June), Developing Lifelong Learning Skills For Middle School Teachers: Devising Their Own Engineering And Science Hands On Activities Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3452
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