ERIC Number: EJ1033934
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Nov
Reference Count: 4
Engineering Encounters: Engineer It, Learn It--Science and Engineering Practices in Action
Lachapelle, Cathy P.; Sargianis, Kristin; Cunningham, Christine M.
Science and Children, v51 n3 p70-76 Nov 2013
Engineering is prominently included in the "Next Generation Science Standards" (Achieve Inc. 2013), as it was in "A Framework for K-12 Science Education" (NRC 2012). The National Research Council, authors of the "Framework," write, "Engineering and technology are featured alongside the natural sciences (physical sciences, life sciences, and Earth and space sciences) for two critical reasons: (1) to reflect the importance of understanding the human-built world and (2) to recognize the value of better integrating the teaching and learning of science, engineering, and technology" (p. 2). For nine years, the authors' team has been developing and testing engineering curricula for elementary students. They are engaged in this endeavor because, like the National Research Council, they recognize the importance of technological literacy. In this article, they show how science and engineering practices can be integrated into the elementary classroom by providing snapshots of activities from one of their STEM curriculum units. The unit, focused on aerospace engineering, challenges students to design parachutes for a spacecraft that will land on a planet with an atmosphere thinner than Earth's. The "Next Generation Science Standards" ("NGSS") specifies that children should engage in eight science and engineering practices. Herein, the authors present scenes from an elementary school classroom that show children engaging in all eight engineering and science practices while they work on engineering parachutes. The activities the authors describe have been done successfully with students who are both experienced and not experienced with these practices. They also present examples in which these children, as they are engaged in engineering design, apply their scientific and mathematical knowledge and skills. They do this to illustrate how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics can be integrated, as the "NGSS" advocates.
Descriptors: Science Instruction, Engineering Education, STEM Education, Elementary School Curriculum, Technological Literacy, Integrated Curriculum, Interdisciplinary Approach, Learning Activities, Models, Design, Scientific Concepts, Data Analysis, Elementary School Science, Science Process Skills, Data Collection, Mathematics Skills, Computation
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A