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Time for Action? Elementary Engineering Education – Challenging Teachers, Policy Makers and Parents.

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-college Engineering: Educational Policy and Research

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1264.1 - 24.1264.12



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Paper Authors

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Robin Clark P.E. Aston University


Jane Andrews Aston University

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Dr Jane Andrews is Programme Director for a suite of Engineering Management Programmes at the School of Engineering & Applied Science, Aston University, UK. Jane's research interests include all aspects of engineering education.

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Time for Action? Elementary Engineering Education – Challenging Teachers, Policy Makers and Parents.Grounded in the findings of a three year exploratory study whereby teachers’ andpolicy makers’ perceptions of elementary level engineering education were analysed,and in which a participatory approach was adopted to analyse children’s attitudestowards extra-curricular engineering activities, this paper sets out to explore the issuesaround introducing and then embedding engineering into the elementary schoolcurriculum from kindergarten through to high school. It critiques the current UKelementary school curriculum (from which engineering is totally absent and appliedscience is only superficially covered) and argues that the inclusion of engineering as afoundational level subject could not only enhance children’s learning experiences, butcould also ignite their ‘engineering imaginations’ thereby unlocking potential which iscurrently left mostly untapped.Focusing on three strands of engineering education activity, pedagogy, practice andpolicy, the paper discusses the challenges faced within the UK to introducingengineering at elementary level. Looking closely at extra-curricular engineeringactivities, the discussion considers the ‘added value’ that appropriately developedengineering education activities can offer in the classroom arguing that the disciplinecan reach across the curriculum offering context and depth in many different areas. Itconsiders how, through raising children’s awareness by offering exciting yetpedagogically sound practical engineering activities, the subject can bring othersubjects including maths, science, history and literacy to life.Grounded in the study findings, the paper argues that whilst Engineering has alwaysbeen a ‘frontier’ discipline, the issues currently faced in introducing the subject atelementary level within the UK are unprecedented. By challenging societal norms interms of elementary education and the expectation that young children need to learnin an environment that concentrates on the “3 Rs” (reading, writing and arithmetic),the paper throws ‘the gauntlet’ to teachers, policy makers and parents compellingthem to look closely at how formative education is currently structured within the UK.Proposing a ‘working’ Model of Elementary Engineering Education, the paper arguesthat the introduction of foundational engineering education can provide a realalternative to current educational practice and a new “Educational Frontier” forged.

Clark, R., & Andrews, J. (2014, June), Time for Action? Elementary Engineering Education – Challenging Teachers, Policy Makers and Parents. Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23197

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