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Successful Methods For Introducing Engineering Into The First Grade Classroom

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.910.1 - 6.910.10



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Paper Authors

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Sue Ann Kearns

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Merredith Portsmore

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Judy Barsosky

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Catherine Rogers

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Chris Rogers

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

Session 2548

Successful methods for introducing engineering into the first grade classroom

Sue Ann Kearns, Catherine Rogers, Judy Barsosky, Merredith Portsmore, Chris Rogers,

Tufts University / Lincoln Public Schools


Children in early elementary school are natural engineers – building and taking apart anything they can get their hands on. Introducing engineering into the classroom at this early age takes advantage of their interest to excite and engage them in math, science, and technology learning. Moreover, it plants the seed for an interest in engineering and can start to combat some of the gender issues associated with engineering. Several members of Tufts University’s Center For Engineering Educational Outreach (CEEO) have worked for the past few years at the first grade level to bring engineering into the classroom. Using LEGO materials, CEEO members have collaborated with teachers to create a collection of activities that introduce first graders to forces, frictions, the engineering design process, as well as reinforce math and reading concepts. Activities range from building walls and chairs to discuss forces -- to creating ramp climbing cars to discuss gear rations and torque -- to producing a LEGO based movie of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.. This paper will describe the process of creating the activities as well as support required to implement engineering activities at the first grade level.


The primary goal of Tufts University’s Center for Engineering Educational Outreach (CEEO) is to bring engineering into the K-12 classroom. Constantly building and taking things apart to gain a better understanding of how they work, children are natural engineers. By bringing engineering into the classroom, these natural instincts can be capitalized on to excite children about math and science and interest them in a future careers in science , math , and engineering. Engineering also provides a way to integrate subjects and to show students the real world applications of the subjects they are learning. It lends itself to the development of personally meaningful projects that the students can relate to and hence are more likely to find motivating and engaging. 1,2. At the state level in Massachusetts the importance of engineering is supported by the State Board of Education’s recent adoption of new science standards that make engineering a part of the required state curriculum. 3

The CEEO, located in Medford, Massachusetts, works with several area schools and teachers to bring engineering into the classroom. Looking specifically at the first grade teachers we have worked with in a suburban school in Eastern Massachusetts is of particular interest because

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exhibition Copyright  2001, American Society of Engineering Education

Kearns, S. A., & Portsmore, M., & Barsosky, J., & Rogers, C., & Rogers, C. (2001, June), Successful Methods For Introducing Engineering Into The First Grade Classroom Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9821

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