June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
12.1189.1 - 12.1189.19
Program and Curriculum Assessment for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) Summer Academies for P-6 Teachers
There is a need for research and discovery-based educational programs to introduce elementary educators and students to engineering. For this reason, a mid-western Research I university recently established the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE). In Summer 2006, INSPIRE developed two week-long Summer Academies for P-6 teachers to introduce P-6 educators to engineering. The first academy was for teachers in the local area and the second was for teachers from across the nation. The INSPIRE program focused on the nature and practice of engineering; differences and similarities between engineering and science thinking; what engineers do and how engineers solve problems; and problem-solving processes for engaging P-6 grade students in open-ended problem solving. INSPIRE instructors used three types of curriculum units in the program: Model Eliciting Activities, Milton is Missing, and Mission to Mars. Each of these units focused on developing engineering thinking and problem- solving skills.
The purposes of this paper is to describe INSPIRE, overview assessment strategies that are leading to research on P-12 teachers, and present curriculum and program and assessment results for P-6 teachers participating in the inaugural offering of the INSPIRE Summer Academies. Quantitative and qualitative assessments were used to ascertain local and national Academy participants’ views on how well the INSPIRE Summer Academy program objectives were met as well as the quality and applicability of the curricular lessons for their own students. The aim is to understand the impact of the INSPIRE Academies upon teachers’ views of engineering and opportunities and challenges for implementing engineering activities in their classrooms.
“More S&P [Standard & Poor's] 500 CEOs obtained their undergraduate degrees in engineering than in any other field.”1 This would lead one to believe that students would be clamoring to gain entrance into our nation’s engineering programs; however, this is not the case. The fact is that the number of engineers graduating in the United States has remained unchanged over the past three years, while countries like China and India have far surpassed us. In an age where technology is ever evolving, the US needs to keep up with competing countries or our place in the technological world will be threatened1.
So, why is the U.S. producing so few engineers? Why aren’t university students choosing engineering as a career? It is becoming increasingly clear that the answer begins in elementary school. Unfortunately, engineering is not traditionally part of the K-12 curriculum and many teachers are apprehensive about attempting to teach these topics2. Teachers are likely uncomfortable teaching engineering concepts to their students because they, themselves, hold many misconceptions about engineering. Research shows that a large number of teachers erroneously believe that engineers construct buildings2. They also tend to believe that engineers
Duncan, D., & Oware, E., & Cox, M., & Diefes-Dux, H. (2007, June), Program And Curriculum Assessment For The Institute For P 12 Engineering Research And Learning (Inspire) Summer Academies For P 6 Teachers Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2935
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