June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
11.1304.1 - 11.1304.7
The Infinity Project: On the Design and Implementation of a High School Engineering Curriculum 1. Introduction
The Infinity Project is a joint effort between university educators, high school teachers, administrators, and industrial leaders to establish an engineering curriculum that is taught within the regular high school day. The curriculum teaches students about the design of technology-driven systems and motivates them to learn fundamental concepts of mathematics, science, and engineering. The curriculum consists of (1) a course text, (2) integrated laboratory exercises with real-time signal processing hardware, (3) summer teacher training institutes, and (4) a web community portal for information sharing (www.infinity-project.org). Started in 1999, the Infinity Project is in over 150 high schools across twenty-five states and is garnering some interest in other countries across the world as an innovative educational intervention to promote and increase awareness of engineering and technology education in young people today.
While careful assessment and tracking of pre-college student populations on a large scale is challenging – see the comments in Section 4 of this paper – the Infinity Project attracts both students and teachers towards the study and education of pre-college and college engineering. In a small population study taken during the second year of the program’s implementation, 65% of all students who completed the Infinity Project pre-college curriculum plan to pursue engineering in college. Only about 2% of all students who graduate from high school are interested in pursuing such degrees1. Teachers who complete a one-week-long training seminar designed to prepare them for teaching the year-long course have also given positive comments towards the program – some of these comments include “Best training I have ever seen” and “My state needs this curriculum now.” Additional details regarding the structure and outcomes of the Infinity Project can be found in several papers2-7.
The implementation of a high school engineering curriculum that is taught by teachers with limited exposure to engineering curricula and concepts represents a particular system design challenge. In this paper, some of the knowledge that has been learned in establishing such curricular activities in varied educational environments is shared. In particular, the following topics are discussed: • The role of and importance of partnerships with engineering and educational technology providers, • The curriculum design process and its relationship to technology development, • Issues related to curriculum design that affect teacher professional development and training, and • The process of community building for widespread adoption of an educational intervention at the high school level. In each case, the focus is to provide information on best practices that would be useful to anyone who seeks to implement a new educational intervention widely at the pre-college level.
Douglas, S. (2006, June), The Infinity Project: On The Design And Implementation Of A High School Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1348
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