Just a cute kid with a great imagination...
or an aspiring engineer with dreams and drive to shape our world?
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.
WHY K-12 ENGINEERING?
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
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
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.
TeachEngineering... because dreams need doing.