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Introducing Young Children to Engineering through Early STEM Literacy

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Using Web-Resources and Literature to Teach Engineering in P-8

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.962.1 - 22.962.9



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Paper Authors

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Emily M. Hunt West Texas A&M University


Michelle L Pantoya Texas Tech University

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Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Texas Tech University. PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Davis. Specialty in Combustion of Energetic Materials.

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Aaron S. Hunt Canyon Independent School District

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I am in my ninth year in public education. Three years teaching high school Spanish, two teaching eighth grade history, one as a graduate student and researcher, and three years as an assistant principal in middle school. I love working with students and know the value of the education business. I also am in my last year of doctoral coursework in Education Leadership and am looking forward to the future in schools.

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Abbye M. Reeves

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Submitted to: ASEE 2011 Annual Conference: K-12 and Pre-College Engineering DivisionIntroducing Young Children to Engineering through Early STEM LiteracyDr. Emily M. Hunt1 and Dr. Michelle L. Pantoya21 Department of Engineering and Computer Science, West Texas A&M2Department of Mechanical Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409AbstractIn this study, we focused on children from 2-8 years of age and asked the simple question: what doengineers do? The number one response was: “I don’t know”, the number two response was “they drivea train”. While children are very familiar with professionals such as doctors, teachers, nurses, firefightersand policemen, they are rarely introduced to engineers. With this motivation, we developed a youngchildren’s book on engineering: Engineering Elephants. The goal was to encourage analytical thinkingskills by speaking the language of science to children – asking questions – and engage them with a lyricalpattern to help anticipate what will be next. Every other page asks questions like “do engineers makeelephants?” The feedback has been an overwhelming success because children love to yell “no!” inresponse to things engineers do not make. This engaging style keeps students’ attention while at thesame time introducing vocabulary such as “forces”, “momentum”, and “nanofibers” and exciting theirinterest in topics such as renewable energy, prosthetics and race cars. A kindergarten teacher illustratedthe book to better provide a young child’s perspective on learning engineering through art. This bookhas become an outreach tool that introduces children to the dynamic world of engineering designthrough roller coasters, fireworks, and a plethora of other exciting adventures. The book teacheschildren about relevant topics by engaging them through an interactive journey of an elephant and hisquestioning of the world around him. This presentation will highlight the development of this book as aninstructional aide but also detail the response of various age groups to engineering activities presentedas a companion to this book. In particular, an elementary school district in Slaton, TX designed a 4-5thgrade 3-week summer school curriculum around this book. The curriculum and the associated students’performance will be summarized and assessed. Results from this study will have an impact on futuregenerations by inspiring them to consider the exciting profession of engineering at an early age.According to studies, the Millinennials generation (born early 1980-2000) places significant emphasis onmeaningful careers. By introducing Engineering Elephants to the Millinennials generation of parents andintegrating the ideas presented in this book into their culture, there are no limits to the meaningfulcontributions that future engineers will make toward improving our way of life.

Hunt, E. M., & Pantoya, M. L., & Hunt, A. S., & Reeves, A. M. (2011, June), Introducing Young Children to Engineering through Early STEM Literacy Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18177

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