Asee peer logo

Inspiring Computational Thinking in Young Children's Engineering Design Activities (Fundamental)

Download Paper |

Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division: Fundamental; K-12 Students & Engineering Division: Fundamental; K-12 Students & Engineering Design Practices: Best Paper Session

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

10

DOI

10.18260/p.25732

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/25732

Download Count

408

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Morgan M. Hynes Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Dr. Morgan Hynes is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University and Director of the FACE Lab research group at Purdue. In his research, Hynes explores the use of engineering to integrate academic subjects in K-12 classrooms. Specific research interests include design metacognition among learners of all ages; the knowledge base for teaching K-12 STEM through engineering; the relationships among the attitudes, beliefs, motivation, cognitive skills, and engineering skills of K-16 engineering learners; and teaching engineering.

visit author page

biography

Tamara J. Moore Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-7956-4479

visit author page

Tamara J. Moore, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education and Director of STEM Integration in the INSPIRE Institute at Purdue University. Dr. Moore’s research is centered on the integration of STEM concepts in K-12 and postsecondary classrooms in order to help students make connections among the STEM disciplines and achieve deep understanding. Her work focuses on defining STEM integration and investigating its power for student learning. Tamara Moore received an NSF Early CAREER award in 2010 and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2012.

visit author page

biography

Monica E. Cardella Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/https://0000-0002-4229-6183

visit author page

Monica E. Cardella is the Director of the INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering Education and is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University.

visit author page

biography

Kristina Maruyama Tank Iowa State University

visit author page

Kristina M. Tank is an Assistant Professor of Science Education in the School of Education at Iowa State University. She currently teaches undergraduate courses in science education for elementary education majors. As a former elementary teacher, her research and teaching interests are centered around improving elementary students’ science and engineering learning and increasing teachers’ use of effective STEM instruction in the elementary grades. With the increased emphasis on improved teaching and learning of STEM disciplines in K-12 classrooms, Tank examines how to better support and prepare pre-service and in-service teachers to meet the challenge of integrating STEM disciplines in a manner that supports teaching and learning across multiple disciplines. More recently, her research has focused on using literacy to support scientific inquiry, engineering design, and STEM integration.

visit author page

biography

Senay Purzer Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-0784-6079

visit author page

Ṣenay Purzer is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education. Her research examines how engineering students approach innovation. She also studies informed design practices among college and pre-college students . She serves on the editorial boards of Science Education and the Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education (JPEER).

visit author page

biography

Muhsin Menekse Purdue University

visit author page

Muhsin Menekse is an assistant professor at the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University, with a joint appointment at the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. Dr. Menekse’s primary research investigates how classroom activities affect conceptual understanding in engineering and science for all students. His second research focus is on verbal interactions that can enhance productive discussions in collaborative learning settings. And his third research focus is on metacognition and its implications for learning. Much of this research focuses on learning processes in classroom settings. Dr. Menekse is the recipient of the 2014 William Elgin Wickenden Award by the American Society for Engineering Education.

visit author page

biography

Sean P. Brophy Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Dr. Sean Brophy is the Director for Student Learning for the INSPIRE Institute for pre college engineering education at Purdue University. His research in engineering education and learning sciences explores how children learn through interactions with technologies ranging from manual manipulative like structures students design build and test with shake tables to digital manipulative with mobile devices. He continues to explore new methods to enhance informal and formal learning experiences.

visit author page

Download Paper |

Abstract

Complementing science and mathematics, computational thinking and engineering are increasingly integrated into K-12 classrooms as well as K-12 out-of-school environments. In the United States, these efforts are motivated by the Computer Science Teaching Association’s 2011 K-12 standards, the inclusion of engineering in the Next Generation Science Standards as well as state standards. However, there are few clear examples of what engineering thinking and computational thinking looks like when enacted by young students. Computational thinking at young ages is broader than simply programming and early experience with computational thinking can shape student attitudes towards math and technology for years to come. Collecting and sharing pre-college students’ thinking in these areas is important for researchers as we develop a shared research agenda; important for teachers in knowing how to guide their students and knowing what to look for amongst their students; and important for helping parents also understand how to support engineering thinking and computational thinking. The recognition of this need was a major outcome of the recent “Engineering Design and Practices Roundtable: Working Together to Advance Pre K-12 Engineering Design” convened by the Museum of Science in Boston in January 2015.

The project reported in this paper aims to integrate computational thinking into the existing integrated STEM curriculum. In order to develop computational thinking supplements appropriate for young children, the team analyzed videotaped observations of student-teams participating in the current integrated STEM curriculum to identify the nascent engineering and computational thinking students exhibited. These qualitative examples serve to both inform the larger research community what engineering and computational thinking can look like among 5-8 year olds, and provide baselines for further development of engineering and computational thinking curriculum and assessment.

The team followed an interaction analysis approach for analyzing the videorecorded observations to identify rich examples the team could richly describe in terms of engineering and computational thinking. The findings from our analysis of these videotaped observations demonstrate that students as young as 5 years old are able to identify and define the problem, evaluate designs when given criteria, balance tradeoffs, and iterate toward a better solution using mathematical relationships. Furthermore, students used computational thinking practices, such as problem decomposition, algorithm generation, logical reasoning and system integration of multiple components during activities. For example, in the first lesson of the curriculum, the students were introduced to the design challenge. Through their problem scoping, students helped the teacher break down the problem into smaller parts (problem decomposition). The students also participated in simulation, another aspect of computational thinking, by acting out the treasure map story presented in the lesson. Participation in the simulation helped students to develop algorithms for helping children at a party find a buried treasure. These examples of computational thinking were found among K-2 students and helped students make connections to the engineering design work that they were doing. This paper will explore these connections between engineering and computational thinking and their relationship to student learning.

Hynes, M. M., & Moore, T. J., & Cardella, M. E., & Tank, K. M., & Purzer, S., & Menekse, M., & Brophy, S. P. (2016, June), Inspiring Computational Thinking in Young Children's Engineering Design Activities (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25732

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: © 2016 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