Posts Tagged ‘Engineering’

STEM: Bringing Engineering into the Science Classroom

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

AUTHOR: Shawna Wiebusch, Secondary Science Education Specialist

Science courses are often grouped into the category of STEM, including in the STEM endorsement for graduation from Texas public schools. Science teachers attest to the value of math in the field of science and many have embraced the accuracy, precision, and increased student engagement that technology brings to the classroom. However, science teachers often hesitate when asked how they incorporate engineering into their classrooms. While our content based TEKS get most of the focus, our process standards are often an afterthought in planning. Through the lens of engineering design, teachers can integrate the teaching of process standards and content standards.

The engineering design process consists of a series of steps that can be thought of as a cycle. Depending on your source, there are approximately 7 steps. From the Teach Engineering website the steps are as follows:

1) Ask – Identify the need and constraints

2) Research the problem

3) Imagine: Develop possible solutions

4) Plan: Select a Promising solution

5) Create: Build a prototype

6) Test and Evaluate prototype

7) Improve: Redesign as needed

In a science classroom, these steps lead students to use the content they are expected to learn to solve a problem. A physics teacher might ask their students to design and model a house that uses series and parallel circuits to light 4 rooms with a specific current and voltage. A biology teacher might ask their students to determine what barriers a cell would have to overcome in order to duplicate itself successfully and come up with potential solutions to those barriers (and in the process, teach the concept of mitosis). An 8th grade teacher might ask students to determine the causes of and potential solutions for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In each of the examples listed above, students should also communicate their designs to their peers and use feedback in order to improve their initial models.

So now that you’ve seen a few examples, let’s explore exactly how the science process TEKS fit into the engineering design process.

In elementary school, students are expected to propose solutions to problems in Kindergarten through third grade (K.3A, 1.3A, 2.3A, 3.2A). This is the foundation of the engineering process and needs to be emphasized in the younger grades so that those skills are developed and practiced throughout a child’s education.

At every grade level, at least one student expectation touches on the use of models. In 7th grade, students are expected to “use models to represent aspects of the natural world…” (7.3b) and “identify advantages and disadvantages of models such as size, scale, properties, and materials” (7.3c). In the engineering design process, prototypes are the models. Students can use models to test out their ideas and explain them to other students and to the teacher. The important part of this is that the students are making and using the models more than the teachers.

At all grade levels, students are expected to “communicate valid results”. From third grade on, they are expected to “critique scientific explanations”. In Engineering Design, this falls under Test and Evaluate the prototype. Part of the evaluation comes from peer review. Students need the opportunity to bounce their ideas off of each other before being graded on them. The peer review process gives students that chance. Not only will they come away with ideas on how to improve their own models and ideas, but they will have practice in the art of constructive criticism and analyzing the work of others.

These are just a few places where the Science process standards overlap with principles behind Engineering Design. Engineering doesn’t have to be its own unit. It can be easily embedded in the work we already do with students and will give them opportunities to take ownership of their own learning.

References:

Engineering Design Process. (n.d.). Retrieved April 07, 2016, from https://www.teachengineering.org/engrdesignprocess.php

 

STEM Essential Elements to STEMify the Classroom

Friday, September 25th, 2015

AUTHOR: Dr. Grant Kessler,  STEM Specialist – Curriculum & Instruction

An important goal for all students — regardless of interest in focused STEM content — is STEM literacy. There is an increasingly technical aspect to almost everything in which we engage, both at work and in our daily lives; students will need STEM literacy to be successful in their personal and professional futures. Therefore, STEM literacy should be emphasized across all grade levels and subject areas.

What does this means for education? As educators, we must prepare our students to thrive in a STEM-based world by integrating STEM into our work whenever possible. Students must learn how to appropriately utilize the Internet, demonstrate the confidence to learn new technologies, be mathematically functional and able to apply scientifically-sound thinking, and be capable and self-sufficient problem-solvers.

Well-designed learning experiences encourage students to quickly see the importance and applicability of STEM; students and educators should view the STEM components as working in tandem. A STEM-ified lesson is not just science or technology or engineering or math; it includes notions of science and technology and engineering and math. Importantly, not every component has to be in every lesson. Instead a blending of the four components, which allow students to make real-world connections, is what works well in practice.

STEM education should provide an engaging and problem-driven process for students to learn. This approach is effective and transferable across all content areas for all students. Schools can improve and encourage STEM literacy in a number of ways, from a single classroom to a district-wide initiative. The key element of STEM learning is the integration of the four core subjects into larger, cross-disciplinary projects designed for students to solve problems and gain real world insights. We seek to avoid imparting fragmented pieces of knowledge with no application.

Implementing STEM into the classroom begins with organizing and delivering learning experiences in such a way that students understand the connections within and between content areas, see relevance in their learning, and build capacity through authentic utilization of 21st century and content skills. The STEM Essentials provide the platform from which teachers can STEMify student learning while using a variety of delivery approaches.

STEM ESSENTIALS & THEIR KEY COMPONENTS

By implementing STEM best practices, educators can provide meaningful real-world learning experiences that go beyond the classroom and become transferable skills that are necessary for students to be competitive in the global economy. Explore the STEM Essentials & Their Key Components document and consider how they can be used to align current instruction with the end goal of STEMifying instruction.

Transformation Central Texas STEM Center will publish a straightforward and practical process for educators to STEMify learning for all students in the book, “A Blueprint for Building a STEM Program: Integrate, Innovate, Inspire.” For more information visit TCentralSTEM.org. This resource is highly recommended for educators of all content areas, pre-K through grade 12.

For resources, strategic planning and implementation support, contact Grant Kessler (grant.kessler@esc13.txed.net) at Region 13.

The “E” in STEM

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Author: German Ramos, Project Coordinator: Transformation Central T-STEM Center

Nowadays, the trend in best practice education is to teach students the process of problem solving rather than the teacher explaining step-by-step how to solve a given problem.  The overall education system faces the monumental challenge of finding practical methods in which problem solving skills and subject content can be combined without neglecting the state mandated objectives.  With the big push in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), it seems that implementing the “E” in STEM is the hardest part of this equation.

The ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) definition of Engineering is: “The profession in which a knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences gained by study, experience, and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize, economically, the materials and forces of nature for the benefit of mankind.”

According to this definition, the knowledge of science and mathematics applied with technology is, in fact, considered engineering.  Educators find themselves confronted with the challenge of being able to provide experiences and allow for practice in addition to delivering the science and mathematics content currently required by the state throughout the school year.  The reality for many is that achieving this ideal balance is time consuming and often resources are scarce.  However, we must keep in mind that engineering provides the opportunity to expose students to science, mathematics, and technology all in one context, even if engineering-based courses are not required by the state.

There are certainly many initiatives for having Engineering in the classroom.  The addition of a few more engineering-based courses is proof of this.  There is still much work that needs to be done in order to more effectively implement these practices into the education system.  The bridge between schools, higher education institutions, and industry is essential to create a vertical alignment of knowledge, skills, and experiences needed by students to be able to succeed in this problem-solving based real world.

To explore how teaching engineering in the classroom may benefit skills future engineers may need, please visit: http://engineeringschools.com/resources/top-10-qualities-of-a-great-engineer

To explore engineering resources for the classroom please visit: http://www.teachengineering.org/

 

List of Various TEA courses that meet/or incorporate engineering standards.

Electricity and Magnetism – Electricity and Magnetism is designed to provide an in-depth introduction to the concepts of electricity and electronics for the student who plans to major in an engineering discipline at the university level. With a concentrated and extended study of electricity and magnetism, the student will be aptly prepared to enter the highly competitive university environment. *

Introduction to Renewable Energy – This course provides the foundation for a deeper understanding of the problems, issues, perspectives, and developments in the areas of bio-fuels, solar and wind energy. A significant focus of the course will be on critical and creative thinking, problem solving, and communication of ideas relating to renewable energy. *

Science and Technology – Science and Technology (SciTech) is a high-level, hands-on science and engineering course. Through self and peer evaluation, SciTech requires students to interact verbally, in writing, and through improving the performance of devices. *

Concepts of Engineering and Technology – Concepts of Engineering and Technology provides an overview of the various fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and their interrelationships. Students will use a variety of computer hardware and software applications to complete assignments and projects. Upon completing this course, students will have an understanding of the various fields and will be able to make informed decisions regarding a coherent sequence of subsequent courses. Further, students will have worked on a design team to develop a product or system. Students will use multiple software applications to prepare and present course assignments. **

Engineering Design and Presentation – Students enrolled in this course will demonstrate knowledge and skills of the process of design as it applies to engineering fields using multiple software applications and tools necessary to produce and present working drawings, solid model renderings, and prototypes. Students will use a variety of computer hardware and software applications to complete assignments and projects. Through implementation of the design process, students will transfer advanced academic skills to component designs. Additionally, students explore career opportunities in engineering, technology, and drafting and what is required to gain and maintain employment in these areas. **

 

* Currently Approved Innovative Courses- Foundation and Enrichment

** Chapter 130 Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Career and Technical Education

STEM: Top 10 Resources

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Transformation 2013 T-STEM Center

http://www.transformation2013.org

Transformation 2013 T-STEM Center is a partnership between ESC Region XIII in Austin and ESC Region 20 in San Antonio. Transformation 2013 T-STEM Center serves central Texas and El Paso T-STEM Academies as well as other schools focusing on innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) instruction. The vision of Transformation 2013 is to provide the highest quality professional development, curriculum, and outreach programs emphasizing hands-on problem-based learning to create superior STEM scholars. Our “Top 10 STEM Resources” are cited below including a summary of each resource and a hyperlink to each full-text document.

1. Bybee, R. W. (2010, September). Advancing STEM Education: A 2020 Vision. The Technology and Engineering Teacher, 70(1), 30-35. http://curriculumreform.wikispaces.com/file/view/Advancing+STEM+Education.pdf

This document details the phases and goals of a decade-long STEM action plan to move STEM education beyond the slogan to make STEM literacy for all students a national priority. Initially, the purpose of STEM literacy must be clarified, and then the challenges to advancing STEM education must be addressed. Furthermore, the STEM curriculum will be advanced by presenting challenges or problems framed in life and work contexts involving STEM to engage students.

2. Fulton, K., & Britton, T. (2011, June). STEM Teachers in Professional Learning Communities: From Good Teachers to Great Teaching. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future: http://www.nctaf.org/documents/NCTAFreportSTEMTeachersinPLCsFromGoodTeacherstoGreatTeaching.pdf

The research compiled in this executive summary is based on a National Science Foundation‐funded project: STEM Teachers in Professional Learning Communities: A Knowledge Synthesis. The NSF Knowledge Synthesis indicates that STEM learning teams have positive effects on STEM teachers and their teaching, and students of teachers participating in STEM professional learning communities achieve higher success in math.

3. Hill, C., Corbett, C., & St. Rose, A. (2010). Why so few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from American Association of University Women: http://www.aauw.org/learn/research/upload/whysofew.pdf

This study was conducted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) on the underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The summary emphasizes practical ways that families, schools and communities can create an environment of encouragement that can overcome negative stereotypes about the capacity of women in these demanding fields.

4. ITEEA. (2003). Advancing Excellence in Technological Literacy: Student Assessment, Professional Development, and Program Standards. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from International Technology and Engineering Educators Association: http://www.iteaconnect.org/TAA/PDFs/AETL.pdf

As a companion document to the Standards for Technological Literacy listed below, this document provides a guideline for implementation of the standards in K-12 classrooms. It details important topics such as student assessment, professional development, and program enhancement, while leaving specific curricular decisions to teachers, schools, districts, and states.

5. ITEEA. (2007). Standards for Technological Literacy. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from International Technology and Engineering Educators Association http://www.iteaconnect.org/TAA/PDFs/xstnd.pdf

The content standards and related benchmarks indicate what all students need to know and be able to do to achieve technological literacy. The Standards for Technological Literacy provide the foundation upon which the study of technology is built.

6. Langdon, D., McKittrick, G., Beede, D., & Doms, M. (2011, July). STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration: http://www.esa.doc.gov/sites/default/files/reports/documents/stemfinalyjuly14_1.pdf

Growth in STEM jobs occurred three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs in the last ten years and as a result, U.S. businesses are expressing concerns with the availability of STEM workers. STEM occupations are projected to grow 17% between 2008 and 2018 compared to less than 10% growth for non-STEM occupations; therefore, STEM workers will play a significant role in future growth and stability of the United States.

7. Sanders, M. (2009, December/January). STEM, STEM Education, STEMmania. The Technology Teacher, 20-26. http://www.iteaconnect.org/Publications/AAAS/TTT%20STEM%20Article_1.pdf

The origin of STEM, the current status of how integrative STEM education is addressed for teachers and students, and the systematic changes that are needed to approach integrative STEM education are discussed. In a world where the STEM pipeline problem has been widely publicized, this article addresses the question “Why Integrative STEM Education?” rather than conventional STEM education to achieve technological literacy for all.

8. Texas High School Project. (2010, November 15). T-STEM Design Blueprint. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from THSP: http://www.thsp.org/assets/ee/uploads/pdf/TSTEM_design_blueprint_11-15-2010.pdf

Used by T-STEM academies, the T-STEM design blueprint, rubric, and glossary serve as a guideline for building and sustaining STEM schools. The blueprint addresses seven benchmarks: 1) mission driven leadership; 2) school culture and design; 3) student outreach, recruitment, and retention; 4) teacher selection, development and retention; 5) curriculum, instruction, and assessment; 6) strategic alliances; and 7) academy advancement and sustainability.

9. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. (2010, September). Prepare and Inspire: K-12 Education in STEM for America’s Future. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from The White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast-stemedreport.pdf

The recommendations in this report suggest five priorities that provide a roadmap for achieving our STEM vision: “(1) improve Federal coordination and leadership on STEM education; (2) support the state-led movement to ensure that the Nation adopts a common baseline for what students learn in STEM; (3) cultivate, recruit, and reward STEM teachers that prepare and inspire students; (4) create STEM-related experiences that excite and interest students of all backgrounds; and (5) support states and school districts in their efforts to transform schools into vibrant STEM learning environments.”

10. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. (2010, March). ESEA Blueprint for Reform. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from United States Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/blueprint/blueprint.pdf

In providing students a complete world-class education and college and career readiness, we must strengthen STEM instruction and standards. The availability of grants will support the strengthening of state-wide STEM programs, and support districts in identifying effective instructional materials and improving teachers’ knowledge and skills in STEM instruction for all students.


Article by Karissa Poszywak
STEM Specialist
Transformation 2013 T-STEM Center at ESC Region XIII
Email: Karissa.poszywak@esc13.txed.net
Phone: 512-919-5139
Website: www.transformation2013.org

Special thanks to Joules Webb, STEM Specialist at ESC Region 20, for recommending these top ten resources.