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The engineering design process as a problem solving and learning tool in K-12 classrooms

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session Design

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1196.1 - 23.1196.14

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Paper Authors


Jennifer Mangold University of California, Berkeley

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Ph.D. candidate at UC-Berkeley, Mangold studies in the mechanical engineering department. Her work focuses on sustainability in design, manufacturing, and the end-of-life phases of the product life cycle. She has been working with K-12 students over ten years and has been bringing engineering into K-12 classrooms for five years.

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Stefanie Robinson University of California, Berkeley

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Stefanie Robinson is a Ph.D. candidate in the Mechanical Engineering department at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests are sustainable design and manufacturing, and engineering education and K-12 outreach.

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The Engineering Design Process as a Problem Solving and Learning Tool in K-12 classroomsAbstractIt can be difficult for teachers to develop engineering curriculum for the classroom due to timeconstraints, limited access to resources, and lack of knowledge about its potential success in theclassroom. Another challenge to incorporate engineering into the classroom is the teacher’s andstudent’s misconceptions about engineering. The engineering design process (EDP) is adecision-making process, typically iterative, in which the basic science, math, and engineeringconcepts are applied to develop optimal solutions to meet a determined objective. Among thefundamental elements of the design process are the establishment of objectives and criteria,synthesis, analysis, construction, testing, and evaluation. Teachers can easily incorporate theEDP into existing classroom projects or activities and can also be used as a framework fordeveloping new curriculum modules. The EDP is a great tool that students can use in theircoursework to enhance their problem solving skills as well as introduce them to engineeringdisciplines. The EDP was implemented in 7th and 8th grade math and science classrooms over atwo year period through the University of California, Berkeley ADEPT (Applied DesignEngineering Project Teams) program supported by the NSF GK-12 program. The EDP was alsoused in the curriculum of the University of California, Berkeley Pre-Engineering Partnershipssummer program for middle and high school students over the course of three summers.Examples will be drawn from these programs to illustrate the implementation and success of theEDP in the classroom. The general use of the EDP was introduced to the students early in thecourse through short classroom activities and was later explored in more depth as it applied tolong term projects. The EDP is also applicable to problems outside of engineering and in thestudent’s every day lives; this was one of the reasons that teachers were so excited aboutbringing it into the classroom. The success of using the EDP in the classroom was documentedthrough interviews and surveys of the teachers as well as pre and post assessments of thestudents.

Mangold, J., & Robinson, S. (2013, June), The engineering design process as a problem solving and learning tool in K-12 classrooms Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

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