Curriculum Development And Integration For K 6 Engineering Education
2007 Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings
The state of Massachusetts has recognized the importance of introducing students to topics in engineering and technology at a young age in order to better develop the students' understanding of these areas and to teach them how to utilize this knowledge throughout life. In 2001 Massachusetts instituted "Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Frameworks" for K-6 classrooms. Massachusetts elementary teachers found themselves unprepared and uncertain of how to teach these subjects to their
... subjects to their students. A three year grant from the National Science Foundation provided Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) with the resources necessary to assist Worcester Public Schools (WPS) in bringing technology and engineering into their elementary classrooms. Through the Partnerships Implementing Engineering Education (PIEE) program WPI faculty, graduate fellows, and undergraduate students worked closely with WPS teachers to develop a curriculum in grades K-6 that would address the Science and Technology/Engineering Frameworks and ensure that each year built upon concepts taught in the previous year. Graduate fellows and undergraduate students then helped the teachers bring that curriculum into the classrooms where they both assisted with teaching and also evaluated their lesson plans and activities. WPS teachers provided continuous feedback on which aspects of the new curriculum were and were not effective. The curriculum for each grade was created, tested with WPS students, evaluated, redesigned, and continuously reevaluated until finalized in the spring of 2006. Each curriculum is a compilation of many hands-on activities, thought provoking lessons, and interactive projects meant to highlight the importance of the engineering design process and to incorporate aspects of math, science, writing, and engineering. In the younger grades, primarily K-3, graduate fellows created storybooks to teach engineering concepts such as the engineering design process and simple machines. Individual activity books were created to accompany the stories and reinforce lessons discussed. At the end of the project an internet website (www.wpi.edu/Academics/PIEE/Resources/Lessons/) was created, containing all of the hundreds of lesson plans developed for grades K-6, in an attempt to aid in efficient distribution of the curriculum to any interested teacher. The interactive, grade specific, curricula were met with enthusiasm by the WPS teachers and will provide a powerful resource to aid teachers looking to bring technology and engineering into the elementary classroom.