ERIC Number: EJ1127958
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Abstractor: As Provided
Engineering Design in the Primary School: Applying STEM Concepts to Build an Optical Instrument
King, Donna; English, Lyn D.
International Journal of Science Education, v38 n18 p2762-2794 2016
Internationally there is a need for research that focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education to equip students with the skills needed for a rapidly changing future. One way to do this is through designing engineering activities that reflect real-world problems and contextualise students' learning of STEM concepts. As such, this study examined the learning that occurred when fifth-grade students completed an optical engineering activity using an iterative engineering design model. Through a qualitative methodology using a case study design, we analysed multiple data sources including students' design sketches from eight focus groups. Three key findings emerged: first, the collaborative process of the first design sketch enabled students to apply core STEM concepts to model construction; second, during the construction stage students used experimentation for the positioning of lenses, mirrors and tubes resulting in a simpler "working" model; and third, the redesign process enabled students to apply structural changes to their design. The engineering design model was useful for structuring stages of design, construction and redesign; however, we suggest a more flexible approach for advanced applications of STEM concepts in the future.
Descriptors: STEM Education, Elementary School Students, Qualitative Research, Foreign Countries, Case Studies, Focus Groups, Longitudinal Studies, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6, Mathematical Concepts, Scientific Concepts, Science Education, Mathematics Education, Technology Education, Engineering Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 4; Intermediate Grades; Grade 5; Middle Schools; Grade 6
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A