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Program And Curriculum Assessment For The Institute For P 12 Engineering Research And Learning (Inspire) Summer Academies For P 6 Teachers

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Engineering Professional Development for K-12 Teachers – II

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1189.1 - 12.1189.19



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Paper Authors


Daphne Duncan Purdue University

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Daphne Duncan is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Educational Studies, pursuing her degree in Educational Psychology at Purdue University. She received her B.S. in Elementary Education from Florida State University. She received an M.S. in Human Resources Management from Troy University and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from North Carolina State University with an emphasis in elementary education.

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Euridice Oware Purdue University

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Euridice Oware is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her B.S. in Civil Engineering from Washington University and M.S. in Civil Engineering with an emphasis in structures and transportation from Purdue University. Euridice is studying 3rd and 4th grade students’ perceptions of engineers in an outreach program. Last summer, Euridice focused on program and curriculum assessment for the INSPIRE Summer Academies.

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Monica Cox Purdue University


Heidi Diefes-Dux Purdue University

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Heidi Diefes-Dux, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education (ENE) at Purdue University with a joint appointment in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) and a courtesy appointment in the College of Education. She is the chair of the ENE Graduate Committee and she is a member of the Teaching Academy at Purdue. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Food Science from Cornell University and her Ph.D. from ABE. Her research interests include open-ended problem solving, evaluation of education technology, and curriculum development.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

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.

I. Introduction

“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

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: © 2007 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