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What is engineering, how is it being taught in K-12 schools, and how can it support math and science learning, creativity, and innovative thinking? These and other issues are discussed in a new report from the National Academies, the first-ever look at this emerging area of K-12 STEM education.


The TeachEngineering Digital Library exists to provide teachers with the curricular materials to bring engineering into the K-12 classroom for a single day, a unit, or even an entire course - but why would a teacher introduce students to engineering in the first place? Below are some answers to that question from TeachEngineering and the K-12 engineering education community. The answers fall into two categories: 1) to improve your students' learning, and 2) to guide your students to great careers:

Improve Student Learning

Introduce Exciting Career Paths

Future engineers experiment with Oscilloscopes

Becoming a technological thinker and leader is essential for full participation in our high-tech, global world. Exploration of engineering with K-12 learners inspires youngsters to become aware of the human-made world around them. Developing engineering habits of mind helps all people (including youth) imagine themselves as shaping the future - developing skills to address real-world challenges and creating things for the benefit of humanity and our planet. Because engineering is a natural platform for integration of multiple subjects, and evidence suggests that design as a pedagogical strategy promotes learning across disciplines, K-12 engineering curricula introduces young students to relevant and fulfilling science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) futures.

Why teach K-12 engineering in your classroom?

  • Shaping Our World - Engineering design, by its very nature, is a pedagogical strategy that promotes learning across disciplines. K-12 engineering curricula introduce young students to relevant and fulfilling science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) content in an integrated fashion through exploration of the built world around them.
  • Learning through Experience - Children learn through experiences, and the earlier we create STEM-based experiences, the better. Yes, engineering builds upon knowledge of science and math - but its impact reaches far beyond for youth, capitalizing upon their visualization and creativity skills, and integrating their knowledge and skills with their values and view of the world.
  • Enhance Scientific and Mathematical Literacy - Use of the TeachEngineering lessons and activities engages students in the everyday application of science, mathematics, technology and engineering in our world to improve their understanding of fundamental - and often complex - concepts in a way that makes sense to them through exploration of the built world.
  • Inquiry-Based Lessons and Activities - Students who study engineering pose questions concerning "why things work" rather than "why they need to learn this." TeachEngineering provides an easy way to find consistently-designed, inquiry-based lesson plans and activities that integrate applied science and math content within an imaginative engineering context relevant to the lives of youth.
  • Not an Engineer? Not a Problem! - Engineering is all around us. This collection uses engineering as a vehicle to integrate math and science fundamentals through open-ended, hands-on discovery. All lesson plans are based upon age-appropriate national and state science, technology, mathematics and engineering educational standards.
  • Not a Computer Whiz? Not a Problem! - This collection is a freely-accessible, user-friendly environment for K-12 teachers and engineering educators. All you need is an internet-capable computer. The curricular units, lessons and activities contain consistent components, so once you become familiar with one lesson, you understand the structure of the other lesson plans in the TeachEngineering collection.
  • Improve Public Understanding of Engineering - While we are surrounded everyday by the products and systems designed by engineers, and helped in our lives around the world by the work of engineers, a National Academy of Engineering's report, Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering, shows an alarming lack of familiarity with the role of engineers in society. As a matter of technological literacy, it is important for students in the 21st century to understand the role engineers play in creating all of the technological devices we see around us.

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