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An engineering design curriculum for the elementary grades

By Richard H. Crawford, Kristin L. Wood, Marilyn L. Fowler and Jeffery L. Norrell


The United States has historically excelled in the design of products, processes and new technologies. Capitalizing on this historical strength to teach applied mathematics and science has many positive implications on education. First, engineering design can be used as a vehicle for addressing deficiencies in mathematics and science education. Second, as achievement in mathematics and science is enhanced, a greater number of students at an earlier age will be exposed to technical career opportunities. Third, enhancing elementary and secondary curricula with engineering design can attract underrepresented populations, such as minorities and females, to engineering as a profession. This paper describes a new and innovative engineering design curriculum, under development in the Austin Independent School District (AISD) in Austin, TX. The philosophic goals upon which the curriculum is based include: integrating the design problem-solving process into elementary schools, demonstrating the relationship of technical concepts to daily life, availing teachers with instructional strategies for teaching applied (as opposed to purely theoretical) science and mathematics, and teaching teamwork skills that are so greatly needed in industry and everyday life. Based on these goals, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade engineering design lessons have been piloted in AISD, in conjunction with a University of Texas program for teacher enhancement and preparation. I

Year: 1994
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