Grade School Engineering

Posted on March 15, 2008  Comments (2)

Reading, Writing … And Engineering

More than 2,200 middle and high schools use engineering courses offered by Project Lead the Way, a Clifton Park, N.Y., nonprofit that receives industry support, up from just 12 when the initiative started in 1997. And Infinity Project, developed out of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, is now in 300 schools, up from 12 in 1999. The impact of these initiatives on the ranks of engineers remains to be seen.

Besides creating curricular approaches, groups are lobbying state governments to add engineering to their education standards.

Massachusetts included engineering content in its state science requirements for grades K-12 starting in 2001. New Hampshire began sprinkling engineering and technology concepts into its science curriculum starting last school year. New Jersey incorporated engineering concepts into its state education standards starting in 2004. And more states are following: Texas is working on creating standards for an engineering course that can be used to fulfill a high-school science credit.

Teaching through problem-solving storybooks that feature characters from around the globe “becomes a lot richer and is liberating for many kids and many teachers,” she says. The curriculum can cost as little as $40 — the price of a teacher’s binder, including lesson plans and one storybook. For about $6,000, a school could furnish materials, refills and a storybook for each student in every grade.

Related: resource directory for teachersk-12 Engineering Education (project lead the way)k-12 Engineering EducationLego LearningEconomic Benefits of Investing in Science EducationEngineering Activities: for 9-12 Year OldsYale Cultivates Young EngineersPlaying Dice and Children’s NumeracyEngineering Education AdvocateNational Underwater Robotics Challenge

2 Responses to “Grade School Engineering”

  1. Matt Tuley
    March 16th, 2008 @ 12:31 pm

    My last full time job before starting my freelancing career was teaching high school, and among the many subjects I taught were two courses in the Project Lead the Way program: Principles of Engineering and Digital Electronics. They were a blast to teach, and turned a couple of students (at least two girls–a woefully underrepresented group in the science and engineering) onto studying engineering in college. It’s a great program.

    Not perfect, of course. The financial demands of offering PLTW are quite high, and the curriculum is pretty ambitious about what can be covered in the course of a school year. And convincing school administrators and counselors that the course is not “just another tech ed program” can be difficult. But for those schools willing to commit to offering the program properly, it can make a world of difference for the students involved and for the future of engineering in the US.

  2. Dave Jenkins
    March 17th, 2008 @ 6:22 pm

    Totally agree with your comments Matt. Actually I worked on a PLTW program in a similar manner and its absolutely the best bet for students looking for a bright career in engineering.

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