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Identifying Phenomena and Developing Sustainable Engineering Educational Modules that Integrate STEM Education Best Practices and Next Generation Science Standards for Middle School Science Teachers

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

PCEE Resource Exchange

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Michael Lorenzo Greene Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus

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Michael Greene is a PhD Student at Arizona State University. He is pursuing his degree in the Engineering Education Systems and Design program, concurrently while pursuing a Master's degree in Engineering. Michael graduated with his B.S. in Mechanical engineering from University of Pittsburgh in April of 2018. His research interest lies in diversity, inclusion and K-12 engineering pedagogy.

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Christine Nguyen University of Pittsburgh

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Christine Nguyen is a full stack software engineer at the Global Biosocial Complexity Initiative at Arizona State University who builds and maintains computational social science open source software to (1) investigate factors influencing human behavior and collective action in socioecological systems, (2) support integrative research and data analysis on long-term socio-ecological dynamics, and (3) preserve the digital context necessary to ensure reproducible scientific computation. She obtained her bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in December 2018.

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David V.P. Sanchez University of Pittsburgh Orcid 16x16

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David Sanchez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and the Assistant Director for the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. His research is focused on fusing sustainability principles and design thinking to address the Water and Energy grand challenges in the natural and built environment. Current projects include: Renewable electrode materials for Bioelectrochemical systems, Recirculating Aquaponic Systems, Environmental Quality wireless sensor networks, and incorporating Sustainable Design/Innovation into engineering curricula.
He serves as a director for Pitt’s Design EXPO, the Manufacturing Assistance Center’s makerspace and, a variety of the Mascaro Center’s Sustainability Outreach and Education programs including the Manchester Academic Charter School “Green week” and the Teach the Teacher program, impacting thousands of students each year. Dr. Sanchez teaches Introduction to Sustainable Water Technology and Design, classes in the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department and the Swanson School of Engineering First-Year program. He works directly with K-12 initiatives and outreach programs including Constellation Energy Inventor Labs.

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In order to progress with an advancing technological world, we must prepare students to meet the engineering challenges of the future (NAE, 2004). Integrating engineering and sustainability concepts early in the middle school curriculum is an important stride in accelerating students’ development of these skills which include problem identification, data collection and solution design. Curriculum development falls heavily on the shoulders of teachers, many of whom do not have the expertise to incorporate many of these concepts into their curriculum. Since teachers are the facilitators of accelerated learning in the classroom, they are the determining factor for success and impact of Sustainability and Engineering modules.

Engineering faculty and education facilitators were engaged to identify phenomena that would help create modules focused on engineering and sustainability while meeting Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These modules (Reclaiming Waste, Power of Music, Charged Up) utilized a phenomenological and active-learning approach to introduce and enhance students’ understanding of the connection between engineering and sustainability. The final modules were rolled out at a two-day professional development workshop “Teach the Teacher,” where a group of southwestern Pennsylvania middle school teachers emulated the role of students.

Survey results, which include rating scale and open-response questions, were collected after “Teach the Teacher” to evaluate the impact of the modules. After the workshop, over 85% of participating teachers reported an increase in confidence with respect to incorporate engineering and sustainability practices into their classrooms. With each participating teacher responsible for upwards of 100 students per school year, teachers who incorporate engineering and sustainability modules will likely accelerate and impact students’ learning.

Greene, M. L., & Nguyen, C., & Sanchez, D. V. (2019, June), Identifying Phenomena and Developing Sustainable Engineering Educational Modules that Integrate STEM Education Best Practices and Next Generation Science Standards for Middle School Science Teachers Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32915

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