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Engineering Connections: Teaching Engineering Mechanics To K 12 Teachers

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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

5.259.1 - 5.259.8



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Paper Authors

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Loren W. Zachary

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Janet M. Sharp

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Barbara M. Adams

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

Session 93

Engineering Connections: Teaching Engineering Mechanics to K-12 Teachers Loren W. Zachary, Janet M. Sharp, Barbara M. Adams Iowa State University


This paper describes an innovative course designed for K-12 educators to integrate engineering principles in mathematics and science curricula. “Engineering Connections” was first offered as an experimental summer workshop for practicing teachers and will continue as a semester course for preservice teachers in spring, 2000. The course is constructed as a study of three modules: force, levers, and gears; principles of bridge design; and electricity. Students experience hands- on, inquiry-based instruction through simple investigations and apply engineering concepts in a four-week internship. This paper presents the course objectives and content, the teaching and learning model, and the student-conducted experiments.


Competency in science and mathematics is regarded as a basic skill for high school graduates. Similarly, making connections among mathematics and other disciplines1 and among science and other disciplines2 are key components of professional standards for K-12 teachers. Connections between mathematics and science provide natural opportunities for students to engage in active study of both disciplines3. An exceptionally appropriate field of study in which to integrate these two practices is engineering. “The component of technology most closely allied to scientific inquiry and to mathematical modeling is engineering”4.

A surprisingly high percentage of middle school students express a desire for a career in science or engineering. That preference, unfortunately, declines as students move to upper level classes5 and find science, mathematics, and engineering courses as “dull and unwelcoming”6. For many students, “The way science and math are taught critically affects their interest and later participation in science and engineering”7. If this is the case, then the responsibility falls primarily on the teaching profession. A report to the National Science Foundation recommends that colleges and universities employ science, mathematics, and engineering departments to work collaboratively with departments of education, the K-12 sector, and the business world to improve the preparation of K-12 teachers.8

Course Development

“Engineering Connections” is a semester course designed to provide elementary and secondary education majors with a foundation of engineering concepts and a means of applying mathematics and science curricula. The content of the class focuses on three units of study:

Zachary, L. W., & Sharp, J. M., & Adams, B. M. (2000, June), Engineering Connections: Teaching Engineering Mechanics To K 12 Teachers Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8340

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2000 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015