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To Pop Or Not To Pop: Elementary Teachers Explore Engineering Design With Pop Up Books

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

K-8 Engineering & Access

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1348.1 - 10.1348.20



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Paper Authors

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Glenn Ellis

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Catherine Lewis

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Susan Etheredge

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Thomas Gralinski

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

To Pop or Not to Pop: Elementary Teachers Explore Engineering Design with Pop-up Books

Susan Etheredge, Catherine Lewis, Glenn W. Ellis Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts Thomas Gralinski Amherst Public Schools, Amherst, Massachusetts

Abstract: What is engineering? What do engineers do? What is the engineering design process? What is the relationship between engineering and the liberal arts? Why should we teach engineering in the elementary school classroom? What should engineering education look like in the elementary school curriculum?

This paper describes how a group of elementary school teachers pursued and answered these questions by exploring, experimenting with, and engineering pop-up books during a two-week professional development summer institute, held at a four-year liberal arts college in the northeastern United States. A team of faculty and students from the college's departments of Engineering and Education and a secondary school technology education teacher led the project- based institute.

The power and potential of pop-up books to teach teachers about engineering principles and design is the primary focus of the paper. The paper includes rich descriptions and examples of the pedagogical methods, models, and materials used to engage the teachers in paper engineering through their immersion into the world of pop-up books. The pedagogical strategies and project- based curriculum design of the institute reflect “best practices” as informed by the current cognitive science literature on teaching and learning. For example, the theoretical grounding for the instructional approach is rooted in inquiry-based teaching and learning models that foster and support the kind of discourse community essential for knowledge construction to take place. The paper illustrates how the social-collaborative context created during the summer institute guided and supported the teachers’ developing understandings and skills in engineering education. Teachers report how the exploration and engineering of pop-up books teaches them about engineering principles and design processes and further inspires them to begin to integrate engineering education in their classrooms.

The Context for the Professional Development Institute: Background and Introduction The Smith College Picker Engineering Program, the Department of Education and Child Study, and the Office of Educational Outreach at Smith College have formed the Engineering Education Partnership (EEP). This innovative partnership seeks to enhance the quality and expand the reach of engineering education for preK-16. The EEP’s goals are to 1.) support the integration of engineering education into the preK-12 curriculum; 2.) respond to the call for engineering education reform at the college and university level; and, 3.) address the need to recruit and retain women and underrepresented minorities in science, engineering, and technology. Founded in 1999, Smith’s Picker Engineering Program was created to establish Smith College as a center for excellence and innovation in engineering education, building on its leadership in

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Ellis, G., & Lewis, C., & Etheredge, S., & Gralinski, T. (2005, June), To Pop Or Not To Pop: Elementary Teachers Explore Engineering Design With Pop Up Books Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14904

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