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Engineering At The Elementary Level Does Teacher Team Size Impact Effectiveness?

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Elementary School Engineering Education

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.549.1 - 11.549.9



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Paper Authors


Sean Doherty Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Sean Doherty is a graduate fellow of the PCET program. He is currently seeking a Masters degree in Computer Science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts. His main area of interest is applying Artificial Intelligence techniques to solve real-world problems. Sean received his B.S. in Computer Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2005. Sean graduated with highest distinction and is a member of Tau Beta Pi and Upslion Pi Epsilon.

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Shweta Shanbhag Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Shweta Shanbhag is a graduate fellow of the PCET program and is a second year graduate student in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts. Her main interests lie in Medical Imaging techniques to successfully differentiate between viable and necrotic tissue. Shweta received her B.E. in Biomedical Engineering from D.J.Sanghvi College of Engineering, Mumbai, India,2004.

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Martha Cyr Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Martha Cyr is the director of K-12 outreach and an adjunct professor with the Mechanical Engineering Department at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her main area of interest is effective engineering education for all ages. Dr. Cyr received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Hampshire in 1982, and her M.S. and Ph. D. in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1987 and 1997.

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



Teachers are often asked or required to introduce their students to concepts and content that the teacher does not have a background or training in. Pre-engineering concepts certainly fall within this list of things for elementary teachers. As part of our program to help teachers learn the necessary content to do engineering design activities in their classrooms, we also assessed the impact of teacher team size. Some of the things we considered are: if a team of teachers attends the workshop to learn the content, are they more effective implementing it than teachers who did not attend the workshop as part of a team? Does the size of a team make a difference? This paper discusses how the content is presented, and measured results for varying size teams.


In 1993, the Massachusetts legislature passed the Education Reform Act, which called for the creation of curriculum frameworks [1] or guidelines for what should be taught in all schools at different grade levels. This law also called for a “comprehensive assessment system” that for each school would measure whether students could demonstrate competency in four subject areas. These subjects are Mathematics, English/Language Arts, History and Social Studies, and Science & Technology/Engineering. Consequently, a single integrated test called the ‘MCAS’ or the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System was introduced to drive the students and teachers to improve upon the quality of education and student learning. This test is now administered at the elementary, middle and high school level, with 25% of the 5th and 8th grade level science test addressing technology/engineering learning standards.

With the set of state wide tests in place, and a lack of teacher expertise in implementing the technology/engineering standards, there arose a need to assist the teachers in this area. An attempt to address this demand led to the introduction of the Pre-College Engineering for Teachers (PCET) program by Tufts University with a grant from the National Science Foundation [2]. The primary goals of this program are to familiarize the participating teachers with the engineering design process, to introduce them to an assortment of projects to enhance learning and to incorporate engineering principles in their curriculum. Starting in 2002, this program has already been implemented at the high school and middle school levels and is now in progress at the elementary school level. Table 1 shows the progression of the program implementation and the grade levels of participating teachers.


How it works: Each summer of program since 2004 there are two sets of teachers who participate in PCET workshops. A set of 24 Mentor teachers who are all from the same grade band (eg. 3-5 or middle school), attend a Tufts Engineering Mentor Institute (TEMI) workshop. Concurrently at Tufts University and the partnering institution sites of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and

Doherty, S., & Shanbhag, S., & Cyr, M. (2006, June), Engineering At The Elementary Level Does Teacher Team Size Impact Effectiveness? Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1033

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