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Engineering in the K-12 Classroom

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-College Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.500.1 - 24.500.8



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Paper Authors


Deborah Besser P.E. University of St. Thomas

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Dr. Deborah Besser, is a licensed engineer with a breadth of teaching and engineering experience. Currently, she is the director of University of St. Thomas Center for Pre-Collegiate Engineering Education and she teaches engineering education. Previous professional experience includes instruction in structural systems (steel, timber, concrete, masonry), statics, strength of materials, engineering economy, construction materials, construction management and graphic design. Dr. Besser, who holds a PhD in education, entered the K-12 education realm as program director where her responsibilities included design and implementation of K-12 engineering education programs. Prior to teaching, Dr. Besser was a design engineer with HNTB-CA, where she worked on seismic retrofits and new design of high profile transportation structures. The unifying theme of her vocational mission is that she is committed to building bridges.

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Debra Monson University of St. Thomas

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Debbie Monson, Ph.D., is currently a faculty member in Teacher Education at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN. Debbie's work in Engineering Education is a result of collaboration with the Center for Engineering Education at St. Thomas and the engineers that run that center. Her interests include educating teachers and preservice teachers so they are able to teach integrated STEM topics to their students and the specific connections to mathematics that integrated lessons provide.

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Engineering in the K-12 Classroom (works in progress)Engineering in the K-12 classroom has evolved at an increasingly steady pace for severaldecades and is now building greater momentum with the inclusion of engineering design andengineering practices in the Next Generation Science Standards1. In-service educators havesought engineering content knowledge through professional development, coursework and self-study. The foundational underpinnings of this advancing educational sphere are still indevelopment. Contributions to the emerging base of knowledge include elements such as anorientation towards engineering design, the integration of STEM content2, engineering habits ofmind3, and systems thinking4. Yet how educators autonomously integrate engineering into theirown classroom is not completely understood.This paper describes a collaborative School of Engineering and School of Education programfocused on engineering education5. This research focuses on a capstone course in a series ofengineering education courses, and new knowledge gained by both the instructors of the courseand the teachers involved in the course. This course was taught using NGSS as an overarchingguide for what students in K-12 are expected to know and be able to do in science/engineering.These fundamental standards were then framed by the Lesh Model6 for curriculum developmentas teachers were guided to create their own curriculum unit. The course focused on hands-on/minds-on activities for the teachers so they could experience engineering design. Teachersdebriefed after activities based on specific areas of focus (i.e. engineering practices, etc).Whilethe integration of STEM elements is key to course content, the coursework in this programfocuses on how engineering influences the student learner with an eye to academic standards.This paper will provide an overview of the capstone course content, teachers' experiencesthroughout the course based on written reflections, and preliminary analysis of theimplementation of teacher created integrated STEM units in their own classrooms. Writtenreflections were gathered throughout the course. These reflections, in conjunction with thecourse goals, provide the framework for classroom observations. Preliminary data collected fromwritten reflections, surveys, interviews and classroom observations will be included.References 1. National Research Council, National Science Teachers Association, American Association for the Advancement of Science, & Achieve. (2012). Next Generation Science Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 2. National Research Council. (2011). Successful K-12 STEM education: Identifying effective approaches in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. 3. National Research Council. (2009). Engineering in K-12 education: Understanding the status and improving the prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.4. Bottomley, L. & Parry, E.A. (2013). Defining Engineering in K-12 in North Carolina. Paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA.5. Authors. (20xx). ____________.6. Lesh, R., Cramer, K., Doerr, H., Post, T., Zawojewski, J., (2003) Using a translation model for curriculum development and classroom instruction. In Lesh, R., Doerr, H. (Eds.) Beyond Constructivism. Models and Modeling Perspectives on Mathematics Problem Solving, Learning, and Teaching. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, New Jersey.

Besser, D., & Monson, D. (2014, June), Engineering in the K-12 Classroom Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20391

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