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Drafting A Blueprint For Educating Tomorrow's Engineers Today

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Enhancing Recruitment and Retention in Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.430.1 - 15.430.29



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Paper Authors

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Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh Springfield Technical Community College

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Glenn Ellis Smith College

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Diana Fiumefreddo Smith College

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

Drafting a Blueprint for Educating Tomorrow’s Engineers Today


With the establishment of a STEM middle school and other initiatives, the Springfield, Massachusetts Public School System (SPS) has made a commitment to excellence in Technology/Engineering instruction for all of its 5700 students. To support this commitment, a partnership between the Springfield Middle Schools, Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), and Smith College has been funded through an NSF MSP-Start Partnership Grant. "Drafting a Blueprint for Teaching Tomorrow's Engineers Today" is a partnership program designed to foster deep and meaningful learning of engineering concepts among SPS Middle School Technology and Engineering teachers, as well as collaboratively enhance active learning that is designed to support deep learning and improved student success.

“Tomorrow’s Engineers” has three ultimate goals:

≠ To increase awareness about engineering in approximately 5700 middle school (grades 6-8) students in the Springfield Public Schools, ≠ To improve the knowledge base of about 240 future and in-service middle school science teachers so that they will have the skills, materials, and enthusiasm to excite their students about engineering, and ≠ To create a fluid and dynamic engineering education pipeline where each level informs the preceding level about the skill base needed to ensure success

The overall objective of the grant is to enable teachers to reach and inspire students typically outside of the engineering “pipeline”. Fundamental to the project is supporting teacher professional development that is based upon research from the learning sciences. In particular, the research shows that effective instruction requires teachers to have both a deep understanding of the subject area and an understanding of how students develop their understanding.1 Recognizing the need for a sustained and multi-faceted commitment, our approach to teacher education includes professional development workshops, a meaningful and useful online learning community, and a variety of strategies for directly supporting teachers in the classroom. This paper focuses on our first teacher workshop.

Needs Assessment and Workshop Planning

In late 2008/early 2009, discussions between PIs Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh (STCC) and Glenn Ellis, Ph.D. (Smith College), the SPS Science Education Officer and Instructional Resource Teachers in Technology and Engineering regarding improved middle school student performance in STEM indicated the need for professional development and collaborative support for teachers in required technology/engineering strands set forth in the Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework (MA Framework)2. The results of a formal needs assessment administered to SPS Middle School Technology/Engineering teachers in early 2009 also indicated the teachers’ need and desire for such professional development. The needs assessment was administered to twenty-eight SPS Technology/Engineering teachers in early


McGinnis-Cavanaugh, B., & Ellis, G., & Fiumefreddo, D. (2010, June), Drafting A Blueprint For Educating Tomorrow's Engineers Today Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16611

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