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"Powerful Play: Using Toys As Tools In Engineering Education"

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Instructional Technology in CE 1

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.5.1 - 7.5.16



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Paper Authors

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Douglas Schmucker

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Charles Camp

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Anna Phillips

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Paul Palazolo

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Susan Magun-Jackson

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Main Menu Session 1615

“Powerful Play: Using Toys as Tools in Engineering Education”


As engineering education has changed to reflect less of a traditional teacher-centered classroom and more of a learner-centered environment, new instructional methodologies have also evolved. Many of these curricular modifications look startlingly different from traditional engineering education at first glance; however, a closer look reveals that some curricular modifications are able to glean the substance of the traditional lecture, mix it up with some learner-based, collaborative, hands-on activities, and integrate the new mandates for technical communication and presentation skills into existing engineering content. More and more frequently, toys are used as cognitive learning tools and manipulative models to aid students in grasping these new skills.

But what do these toy-based modifications actually mean to students? Do toys in the classroom actually impact student learning? Our research presents examples of specific innovative curricular modifications ranging from elementary school classrooms to higher education classrooms with one shared finding: toys can be used successfully as teaching tools in this new era of engineering education. We offer examples from all levels of instruction with assessment instruments, pedagogical rationales, and templates for integrating “toys as tools” into existing engineering courses.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Schmucker, D., & Camp, C., & Phillips, A., & Palazolo, P., & Magun-Jackson, S. (2002, June), "Powerful Play: Using Toys As Tools In Engineering Education" Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11089

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