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Developing The Field Of Children's Engineering

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.210.1 - 5.210.9



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M. David Burghardt

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2530

Developing the Field of Children’s Engineering

M. David Burghardt Hofstra University


Educational requirements for grades K-6 are increasing, students and teachers are being held to higher standards with inherent increased expectations learning. Because this is a time of change, the engineering profession has an opportunity to link with the K-6 science curriculum, complementing an existing science curriculum that finds itself challenged. Engineering also provides a contextual situation to reinforce important mathematical concepts. As the field of children’s engineering (engineering for the K-6 grades) develops, it provides an opportunity to examine the fundamental tenets of engineering. This paper examines engineering at its most fundamental level, the level of understanding for 5 to 11 year-olds and demonstrates the importance of children’s engineering.

I. Introduction

An increased emphasis on accountability for student learning from kindergarten to high school is occurring nationwide. State boards of education are requiring testing of children at various grade levels, starting in the elementary school. In New York State there are three standardardized tests given in fourth grade: one in mathematics, another in language arts and the third in science. The results in New York and in many parts of the country indicate that much needs to be accomplished, as student performance is not at the level expected for children living in the world’s wealthiest country. Whether or not tests are a good measure of student knowledge and understanding in a subject area is debatable, but they are the assessment tool used. Student, teacher and district accountabilities are judged by these examinations.

If the curriculum and teaching methods were meeting the needs of students, assessments would be higher and questioning of educational methodologies would not merit much attention. This is a time of change, a time when administrators and teachers are seeking assistance, a time when traditional techniques are being questioned. This is a time when the engineering community can make substantial contributions to the K-6 educational program by introducing the concepts of engineering design and problem solving.

II. Educational Standards in Science and Mathematics

In New York and several other major states, the issue of standards was part of the 1980’s reform movement that focused on increased graduation requirements (Ming Zu, 1996). This evolved into the reforms of the 1990’s that were more pervasive, setting curriculum content standards as well as student performance standards. The aim is to improve students’ critical thinking skills, not their test-taking skills. The New York State Board of Regents approved Mathematics,

Burghardt, M. D. (2000, June), Developing The Field Of Children's Engineering Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8285

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