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ERIC Number: EJ1116446
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Sep
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0036-8148
Community-Based Engineering
Dalvi, Tejaswini; Wendell, Kristen
Science and Children, v53 n1 p67-73 Sep 2015
A team of science teacher educators working in collaboration with local elementary schools explored opportunities for science and engineering "learning by doing" in the particular context of urban elementary school communities. In this article, the authors present design task that helps students identify and find solutions to a school-yard problem. The authors developed sample community-based engineering modules by pilot teaching with fourth and fifth graders at two different urban public schools. In collaboration with elementary science specialist teachers, they focused on two major problems within their school communities: watering plants when there is no easy water access and growing plants where there is very limited open space. The team of teachers and researchers hoped these choices of community problems would help students understand science and engineering as a part of their community life and not as purely academic or abstract content. The authors wanted students to improve their abilities in four areas: (1) Unpack the problem. Identify the problem, understand the need to solve it, and recognize constraints and criteria; (2) Research and plan a solution. Brainstorm ideas that could be potential solutions to the problem; use resources and discussions to plan a solution; (3) Construct and test a prototype. Test the planned solution by building prototypes or working models; and (4) Explain and redesign. Explain and convey ideas to your peers; take feedback. Redesign the modeled solution according to testing results and feedback. The module was conducted in four sessions of 90 minutes each over a period of four consecutive weeks: Session 1: Module preview and introduction to engineering with a warm-up design challenge; Session 2: Unpack and explore the community-based problem; Session 3: Build and test solutions; and Session 4: Explain and redesign solutions.
National Science Teachers Association. 1840 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201-3000. Tel: 800-722-6782; Fax: 703-243-3924; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive; Guides - Classroom - Teacher
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Elementary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: DRL1253344