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Towards Developing An Ontology For K 12 Engineering Technology Education

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Assessment of K-12 Engineering Programs & Issues

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1270.1 - 15.1270.8



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Paper Authors

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M. David Burghardt Hofstra University


Michael Hacker Hofstra University

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Co-director, Center for Technological Literacy

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Marc Devries University of Technology, Delft

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Ammeret Rossouw University of Technology, Delft

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

Toward Developing an Ontology for K-12 Engineering Technology Education Abstract

Hofstra University’s Center for Technological Literacy and the University of Technology, Delft, conducted an international research study in the summer of 2009 to identify the most important unifying concepts and disciplinary contexts in K-12 engineering and technology education (ETE). The purpose of the study, titled Concepts and Contexts in Engineering and Technology Education (CCETE), was to provide a framework for developing contemporary ETE curricula. The study drew upon the expertise of 30 individuals from nine countries with a broad range of experience in ETE-related domains. These experts included philosophers and historians of technology, journalists, technology teacher educators, and engineering educators. A set of core unifying themes, applicable to all technological fields, emerged from this study and gave insight into the nature of engineering as a holistic endeavor. The themes are design (e.g., optimization, trade-offs, specifications), modeling (e.g., representation and prediction), systems (e.g., function, structure), resources (e.g., materials, energy, information), and human values (e.g., sustainability, innovation, risk, failure, social interaction). In addition, a set of technological contexts emerged. Situated in the belief that K-12 ETE should address issues that support a sustainable world, these contexts include food (e.g., agriculture, biotechnology), shelter (e.g., construction), water (e.g., supply and quality), energy, mobility (e.g., transportation), production, health (e.g., medical technologies), security, and communication. Further refinement indicated that when developing a curriculum, the contexts should be elaborated in two directions: a “personal concern” or “daily life practice” direction and a “global concern” direction. Introduction

One of the main issues in the development of ETE is the search for a sound conceptual basis for the curriculum in the U.S. and other countries worldwide. This search has become relevant as the nature of technology education has changed: it has gradually evolved from focusing on skills to focusing on technological literacy. Additionally, the National Academy of Engineering’s report, Engineering in K-12 Education1, examines the current status of engineering education and raises a number of issues about ETE. The lack of conceptual framework for ETE is one of those issues. It is important for students to develop an understanding of technological literacy, and this understanding implies that they have developed a realistic image of engineering and technology. We need to be explicit about what we mean by engineering and technology. Engineering is about creating the human-made world, the artifacts and processes that never existed before. This is in contrast to science, the study of the natural world. Most often engineers do not literally construct the artifacts; instead they provide plans and directions for how the artifacts are to be constructed. Both small artifacts (like a hand calculator) and large ones (like a bridge) are part of the realm of engineering. Engineers also design processes. The processes may be those used to create chemicals and drugs, to direct how components are put together on an assembly line, or to indicate how checks are to be processed in banking. Technology encompasses the way humans develop, realize, and use (and evaluate) all sorts of artifacts, systems, and processes to improve

Burghardt, M. D., & Hacker, M., & Devries, M., & Rossouw, A. (2010, June), Towards Developing An Ontology For K 12 Engineering Technology Education Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15666

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