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The Status of Engineering in the Current K-12 State Science Standards (Research to Practice)

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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

Engineering in K-12 Science and Mathematics Standards

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1234.1 - 23.1234.23



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Paper Authors


Tamara J Moore University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Tamara J. Moore, Ph.D., is the executive co-director of the STEM Education Center and associate professor of Mathematics/Engineering Education at the University of Minnesota. Her research and teaching pursuits are situated in the learning and teaching of STEM fields through the integration of these subjects in formal and non-formal learning environments. Her particular focus is how engineering and engineering thinking promote learning in K-12 mathematics and science classrooms, as well as in higher-education engineering classrooms through the paradigm of STEM integration. She is creating and testing innovative, interdisciplinary curricular approaches that engage students in developing models of real world problems/solutions and working with educators to shift their expectations and instructional practice to facilitate effective STEM integration.

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Kristina Maruyama Tank University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

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Kristina Tank is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota majoring in science education with a supporting field in literacy education. She is a former elementary teacher, and her research interests include improving children’s science and engineering learning and increasing teachers’ use of effective STEM instruction in the elementary grades. More recently, her research has focused on using literacy to support scientific inquiry, engineering design and STEM integration.

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Aran W Glancy University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

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Aran W Glancy is a graduate research assistant at the University of Minnesota pursuing a Ph.D. in STEM Education with an emphasis in Mathematics Education. He received his M.Ed. in Science Education (Physics) from Lehigh University. Prior to enrolling at the University of Minnesota, Glancy spent six years as a high school mathematics teacher and two years as a high school science teacher. His research interests include STEM integration, modeling, and computational thinking.

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Jennifer Anna Kersten University of Minnesota, Twin Cities


Forster D Ntow University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

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Ntow has a B.Ed. and M.Phil. in Mathematics Education. All his educational experiences have been in Ghana. Currently, Ntow is pursuing a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from the University of Minnesota. He has had teaching experiences at the elementary and high school levels. His research interests include teaching children from diverse backgrounds, STEM education with focus on using mathematical ideas in solving everyday situations, and the role of language in concept acquisition.

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The Status of Engineering in the Current K-12 State Science Standards (Research to Practice)Recent national documents pertaining to K-12 education have fostered a connection betweenengineering and science education, but engineering education at the K-12 level has yet todevelop a strong tradition1. As a result, we are left with a number of questions about theintegration of these two areas. For example, How is engineering taught effectively in grades K-12? How does engineering education ‘interact’ with other STEM subjects such as science?, Howhas engineering been used as a context for exploring science, technology, and mathematicsconcepts?2 (p. 2). Understanding the current state of K-12 engineering education is useful infurthering the development of robust engineering and STEM standards and initiatives. TheFramework for a Quality K-12 Engineering Education (the Framework)3 provides both a set ofgoals for designing quality standards and initiatives as well as a means of evaluating existingdocuments and programs. The research question that has guided the work for this paper is: Towhat extent do current state science standards meet the expectations of a quality K-12engineering education outlined in the Framework?DesignDocument content analysis4 was performed using the Framework to represent quality K-12engineering education. Coding was done on all 50 states’ science education academic standards,and the results of that coding were examined individually and in aggregate.FindingsAlthough engineering is present explicitly or implicitly in a majority of the states’ academicstandards, it is often not within the science standards that are required of all students.Furthermore the engineering that is present within the science standards is limited in scope andfails to adequately address several aspects recognized as quality engineering education in theFramework. The results both describe what is happening with regard to engineering educationwithin science at each state and across the country, and they identify where current efforts areproviding high quality engineering education and opportunities for strengthening engineeringeducation at the K-12 level.Conclusions and ContributionAs researchers and practitioners work toward a more clear definition of quality K-12 engineeringeducation, this analysis will help to address some of the questions about the integration ofengineering into other disciplines. K-12 engineering education is vital to developingtechnological literacy within our society, as well as a future generation of engineers and problemsolvers that can provide safety, health, and new technological innovations to solve the complexproblems of tomorrow. With engineering and engineering design being added to the NextGeneration Science Standards (NGSS), understanding a quality engineering education for K-12students is imperative. Lessons learned from the states that already have engineering as a part oftheir science standards will help guide those who will be implementing engineering eitherthrough adoption of the future NGSS or through state adopted standards.References1. Chandler, J., Fontenot, A.D., & Tate, D. (2011). Problems associated with a lack of cohesive policy in K-12 pre-college engineering. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research, 1(1), 40-48.2. National Research Council. (2009). Engineering in K-12 education: Understanding the status and improving the prospects. National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. Washington, DC: The National Academies.3. Authors, (2012). Proceedings from ASEE 2012: The 119th American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference.4. Krippendorf, K. (2004). Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: CA: Sage Publications.

Moore, T. J., & Tank, K. M., & Glancy, A. W., & Kersten, J. A., & Ntow, F. D. (2013, June), The Status of Engineering in the Current K-12 State Science Standards (Research to Practice) Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22619

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