Extending Engineering Education to K-12

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					      Extending Engineering Education
      to K-12
      By Gwen Nugent, Gina Kunz, Larry Rilett,
      and Elizabeth Jones




      Teachers significantly increased                          together faculty from the College of Engineering and
                                                                Technology and the College of Education and Human
      their knowledge of engineering,                           Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to develop a
                                                                teacher professional development program aimed at middle
      developed more positive                                   and high school math and science teachers. The goal was to
                                                                introduce teachers to the work of engineers and to support
      attitudes towards technology,                             them in using this information and related resources in
                                                                the development and implementation of lesson plans,
      increased their self-efficacy                             providing a viable way to infuse engineering into the K-12
                                                                curriculum. A secondary goal was to provide teachers with
      in using and developing                                   the information and resources needed to help stimulate
                                                                students’ awareness of and interest in engineering and
      technology-based lessons, and                             technology career fields.

                                                                Background and Context
      increased their confidence in                             Increasing demands in workforce requirements means
      teaching math and science.                                that the next generation of workers will need even more
                                                                sophisticated skills in science, mathematics, engineering,
                                                                and technology. Scientific and engineering occupations are
                                                                expected to increase by 70%, with 1.25 million additional
                                                                jobs by 2012 (National Science Board, 2006). Unfortunately,
                                                                according to the latest available results from the Trends in
                                                                International Science and Math Study (TIMSS) conducted
                                                                in 46 countries, on average, students from 15 countries
                                                                are higher achieving in math, and students from eight




T
                                                                countries are higher achieving in science than students
      he United States is facing a crisis in terms of meeting   in the U.S. (NCES, 2003). Additionally, while the U.S. is
      demands for a highly skilled technical workforce          producing fewer engineering and technology professionals,
      (Porter & van Opstal, 2001). Workforce preparation        other countries are increasing the number of graduates in
      must begin in primary and secondary educational           these fields (Porter & van Opstal, 2001). If technological
settings. Teachers are perfectly positioned to increase         and scientific innovation is to continue to drive the U.S.
student awareness of and interest in careers in engineering     economy, there is a vital need for our educational system
and technology; unfortunately, they are often not well          to engage in innovative practices that increase science,
informed about jobs in these fields. Our project brought        technology, engineering, and math learning and encourage

                                      14 •   The Te c hnolo gy Te ac her   • april 2010
students to pursue engineering and technology careers.
Attracting students to engineering-related careers is
particularly challenging because engineering is not a subject
area typically addressed in K-12 curriculum.

The Nebraska Project
To address these critical shortages in engineering and
technology fields and to provide a means for K-12
teachers and students to become more informed about
engineering and technical careers, faculty from the
College of Engineering and Technology and the College
of Education and Human Sciences at the Unive
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: The Nebraska Project To address these critical shortages in engineering and technology fields and to provide a means for K-12 teachers and students to become more informed about engineering and technical careers, faculty from the College of Engineering and Technology and the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) collaborated to develop a teacher professional development program aimed at middle and high school math and science teachers. Over the course of the two years of the project, teachers have had the opportunity to learn about issues of traffic control and bridge and highway design; environmental engineering, including issues of water treatment, waste management, and impacts of surface runoff and de-icing on transportation systems; and designing safe barriers for use on NASCAR race tracks.
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