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Teaching Technological Literacy K 12: “Preparing Future Engineers And Nurturing A Democratic Society” A Case Study Of Exemplary Practice

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Introduction to Engineering and More

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1198.1 - 9.1198.7

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Paper Authors

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Jared Berrett

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

Session # 2653


Introduction Shelly and Melanie stood outside the school staring at a handheld GPS in one pair of hands, and their “tech notes sheet” in the other. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon in Hailey Idaho. I watched as they discussed how they had seen Mr. Thode, their teacher, set the way points in the GPS to aid navigation around the school for others to follow. Shelly and Melanie had tried hard during the brief demonstration to catch every little detail of the instructions in their notes, but were still struggling to figure out the different menus and icons displayed on the screen of the GPS they now hovered over. Discussion was intense back and forth as they hypothesized what each symbol meant and what they should do next. Before long, they ran back into the building seeking further instructions. Soon they returned. Not with the answer, but rather a suggestion of where to look in the menus. Before long they were on their way, running around the school yard, laughing, and writing in their notes – led by the GPS system.

These students like many 6th graders in schools across the United States are preparing to become contributing citizens in an increasingly technologically advanced society. Unlike most students however, these students had the opportunity to be working on their 16th technology activity of the tri-semester in a class dedicated to teaching technology. When asked what they were learning, one simply said, ‘technology.’ The other, stated ‘I am learning how to be responsible and a good worker. Also, I am learning to use different machines.’

One may argue that our k-12 educational system has an essential stewardship in teaching children to become technologically literate. This literacy will help develop interest and future engineers in the United States of America. Sadly enough though, “the issue of technological literacy is virtually invisible on the national agenda” (National Academy of Engineering & National Research Council, 2002) and there are only an approximate 35,000 full-time technology teachers in the public school system (personal communication, K. Starkweather, ITEA President, April 5, 2001) that teach dedicated technology courses where students learn about the human- designed world with the associated systems, resources, and processes used and needed to design manufacture, operate, and repair these artifacts.

Research Since we live in a society so heavily influenced by technology, it is imperative that we learn more about how to teach technological literacy. If we know how to better teach technological literacy, including what works and what doesn’t, given specific goals, outcomes, resources, and situations, we can better prepare a technologically literate citizenry to ensure our

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Berrett, J. (2004, June), Teaching Technological Literacy K 12: “Preparing Future Engineers And Nurturing A Democratic Society” A Case Study Of Exemplary Practice Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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