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What Does It Take To Make K 12 Engineering Education Sustainable?

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1305.1 - 8.1305.4



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Martha Cyr

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Session 2793

What Does It Take To Make K-12 Engineering Education Sustainable?

Martha N Cyr Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155


In the past decade there has been significant increase in the commitment of engineering schools, departments, and individuals to support engineering learning in the K-12 environment. As in any good engineering project, there is more than one solution. Looking across the spectrum, a wide variety of types of these K-12 outreach programs exist, ranging from single day student based experiences to professional development and engineering internship opportunities for teachers, with a varied assortment of programs in between. Each type of program brings a level of success, through the inclusion of engineering as a commonly used word and the introduction of learning about engineering as a concept for all types of students. But what kind of programs need to be in place to create a sustainable inclusion of engineering in the K-12 curriculum? And, how do we measure that sustainability in an area that is still in its infancy?


The most common type of K-12 outreach program in engineering is a direct experience for the students to participate in a project that involves some engineering, often along with science. These programs have a fair amount of variation within themselves, but a typical approach is for the students to attend from one to several days of a 'learning camp' environment that guides them through a focused type of activity. In the state of Massachusetts, some examples of this are the Science Saturdays held by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Camp REACH held by Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Design Camp held by the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and LEGO Camp held at Tufts University. The students who participate in these events all rate them as fun, worthwhile, and indicate that the experience has made them either change there opinion about engineering and science, or that they would now consider pursuing a career in these areas. Both are highly worthy outcomes.

Professional development workshops for current teachers are another avenue for outreach. These workshops provide the teachers with knowledge in multiple components; engineering content, links between engineering – science – mathematics, and connections to relevant everyday things. These are done so that they are made grade level appropriate for the teacher. Workshops like these vary as much as the student experiences. Some, like the introductory NSF Pre-College Engineering for Teachers workshop and the Intel funded Engaging Engineering, are half day

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Cyr, M. (2003, June), What Does It Take To Make K 12 Engineering Education Sustainable? Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11903

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