Education Week - March 27, 2013 - (Page 19)

EDUCATION WEEK and minorities, into the field. “We hear lots of tales of, ‘We can’t find the engineers that we need,’ ” Linda Rosen, the chief executive officer of Change the Equation, a coalition of business leaders championing stem education, said during a forum last month on engineering in schools. “Many of our students reach college without any real exposure to hands-on engineering, or in some cases understanding what engineers do.” Crowded Out? Experts say it’s difficult to know how widespread engineering education is today at the K-12 level. A 2009 report by the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council said it was “almost invisible” in schools and “few people even think of it as a K-12 subject.” More recently, a survey conducted last year on math and science education found that about one in four high schools offers an introductory engineering course, though some analysts say the phrasing of the survey question makes that figure likely overstated. Plenty of barriers exist to giving engineering a stronger presence in the curriculum, including the pressure of high-stakes tests in reading and math; teacher-evaluation systems that may, as one analyst put it, make teachers more “risk averse”; little or no focus on engineering in many states’ existing standards; and, a lack of teachers prepared to teach the subject. The recent math and science survey, conducted by Horizon Research, found that just 7 percent of middle school science teachers, and 14 percent in high school, had taken one or more engineering courses in college. Only 7 percent of secondary science teachers consider themselves “very well prepared” to teach engineering. When engineering courses are offered at the precollege level, they usually are electives. Also, what takes place in the name of engineering education “does not always align with generally accepted ideas about the discipline and practice of engineering,” said the report from the nrc and the National Academy of Engineering. That document outlines three principles of K-12 engineering education. It should: stress engineering design; incorporate key and developmentally appropriate math, science, and technology skills; and promote engineering “habits of mind,” such as systems thinking, creativity, and collaboration. Several universities have recently set up programs to prepare engineering teachers at the high school level. The University of Texas at Austin launched a UTeach Engineering program a few years ago (akin to its program focusing on math and science teachers). The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the University of California, Berkeley, have followed suit with UTeach programs that also prepare engineering teachers, said Cheryl L. Farmer, the program manager at the University of Texas. Several other universities are working on plans to develop similar programs, she said. Tufts University in 2011 launched a master’s program in engineering education. In addition to preparing teachers, the UTeach Engineering program in Texas developed the new Engineer Your World high school course. “It’s an innovative course for students who want to learn more about engineering and its role in shaping our world,” said Ms. Farmer. One pilot site using the course is the brand new Lake Washington stem School in Redmond, Wash., where Principal Cynthia L. Duenas said she was surprised to discover that many stem schools she has visited did not include engineering in a meaningful way. “We discovered that the ‘e’ in stem was almost an afterthought,” she said. “That really stuck in my mental file, so my team and I decided that it had to be on equal footing with technology, science, and math.” In one project, engineering teacher Arny W. Leslie said, students faced a scenario in which they were to build wind turbines for Haiti to generate electricity for running water pumps. “What I’ve been impressed by is the way the math and science concepts have never seemed like an addon,” Mr. Leslie said. Meanwhile, the College Board is actively exploring the development of a new course framework and assessment in engineering design, but with a twist. The idea is to produce a portfolio assessment, as is now used for ap Studio Art. Common Standards The common standards for science, due out soon, may pave the way to give engineering more attention in schools, observers say. Currently, no states have stand-alone engineering standards, and only about a dozen have included engineering “formally” in their science standards, according to Greg Pearson, a senior program officer at the National Academy of Engineering. Two states often highlighted as having a strong engineering dimension in their science standards are Massachusetts and Minnesota. The common standards identify as a key stated aim that students apply their learning through scientific inquiry and the engineering-design process to deepen understanding. Some engineering experts criticized a recent public draft, issued in January, saying it gave the subject short shrift and was a step backward from an earlier draft. But Cary I. Schneider, a member of the science-standards writing team, said the final version will reflect significant changes that help to address such concerns. “The engineering concepts were fragmented” in the prior draft, said Mr. Schneider, an associate research professor at Portland State University in Oregon. “Engineering design is woven deeply into the core of the standards,” he said, “so it should become really a part of every science education program, from K-12.” Even as engineering courses are becoming more widely available in schools, some experts say the most practical way to expose students to engineering on a widespread basis is by integrating it with the math or science courses they already take. That’s the approach of two projects the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, N.J., is working on in collaboration with other universities and backed by nsf grants. They infuse engineering concepts and design activities with high school science classes, including biology, chemistry, and physics. “Kids are always saying, ‘Why do I need to learn this, and what am I going to do with it?” said Arthur DESIGN TO LEARN A variety of programs seek to expose young people to engineering, whether in the classroom or in outof-school settings. Engineering by Design: Provides K–12 engineering and technology curriculum developed by the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association. At grades K-5, it provides content to be integrated with other subjects. In the upper grades, it offers a set of courses with a focus on learning concepts and principles in an “authentic, problem-based environment.” Future City: Provides project-based learning experiences in which students in grades 6-8 design cities of the future. Groups of students team up with an educator and engineer-mentor to plan cities using special software, research and write solutions to an engineering problem, build tabletop models, and present their ideas at competitions. The Infinity Project: Offers engineering curricula for middle and high school students that help them see the value of math and science through their application in high-tech engineering. Based at Southern Methodist University. Project Lead the Way: Offers the Pathway for Engineering program, a sequence of high school courses intended to have students learn and apply the engineering-design process, acquire strong teamwork and communications proficiency, and develop critical-thinking and problemsolving skills. It also offers a middle school program, Gateway to Technology, with a strong engineering focus. SeaPerch: Equips teachers and students with resources to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle in an in-school or out-of-school setting, following a curriculum that teaches engineering and science concepts. Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. The third National SeaPerch Challenge competition is in May. TechBridge: Seeks to inspire girls to discover a passion for technology, science, and engineering. Its offerings include hands-on after-school and summer activities for girls, teacher professional development, and resources to help connect stem professionals as role models with young people. Founded by Chabot Space & Science Center in 2000. Camins, who directs the Stevens Institute’s Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education. In one unit, students tackle reducing climate change through the design and construction of a small-scale algae farm to help cut co2 emissions. In addition, Mr. Camins’ center has devised and is scaling up an underwater robotics program delivered mainly at summer camps. “Virtually everything around us has been engineered, Mr. Camins said at the recent forum on engineering education. “And so it’s kind of insane not to engage kids in thinking about that ... and the decisionmaking process that goes into all that design.” Coverage of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education is supported by a grant from the Noyce Foundation, at n MARCH 27, 2013 n 19 Elementary Students Tackling Windmills By Erik W. Robelen Bioengineering. Mechanical engineering. Environmental engineering. Aerospace engineering. Not exactly standard fare in elementary school, but several million children have been exposed to such fields through the fast-growing Engineering Is Elementary program since it was launched in 2004 by the Museum of Science in Boston. Its overarching goal is to “foster engineering and technological literacy among all elementary-aged children.” Students design windmills, water filters, knee braces, and parachutes. They learn to think like an engineer and to tackle problems the way engineers do. Along the way, they explore relevant concepts in science and other disciplines. Eie curricular units are being used by about 45,000 teachers nationwide this year, more than triple the figure five years ago. Delaware is offering it to all public elementary schools, with support from the state’s federal Race to the Top grant, said Christine M. Cunningham, the program’s founder and director. Some school systems, including the Lakota district in Ohio, use it in all their elementary schools. Jennifer L. Haynes, a 2nd grade teacher at Woodland Elementary School in Liberty Township, Ohio, part of the Lakota district, got started last fall with the windmill unit. Students use concepts related to air and weather as they learn how windmills convert wind into energy. As part of the unit, they construct and test sails made of different materials and shapes to catch the wind. Then, they design, create, test, and improve their own windmills. Ms. Haynes appreciates the way the eie program gets her students to think through problems, especially when a device they design doesn’t work as expected the first time. “They have to stop and think and ask: ‘I wonder what it was that I used that didn’t work?’ ” she said. “They really do learn perseverance. ... In that mistake, they will learn something else that will make it better.” Faye Harp, a curriculum specialist for the 17,000-student Lakota district, sees many benefits for children. “They are utilizing science concepts they’re learning about, but also building those 21st-century skills: thinking critically, problem-solving, communication, collaboration,” she said. ‘Go Wild and Have Fun’ Teachers typically implement one or two units each school year, said Ms. Cunningham. A given unit typically takes one or two weeks to complete, with roughly 45 to 50 minutes per day spent on it, she said. There are 20 units in all. “Each unit is designed to integrate with a topic commonly taught in elementary science,” she said. Those include ecosystems, energy, the human body, magnetism, and electricity. In addition, eie staff, in collaboration with classroom teachers, recently developed math lessons for each unit and have mapped them against the Common Core State Standards. The Museum of Science also developed a high school engineering course, Engineering the Future. And it’s planning to publicly roll out an after-school program for the middle grades later this year, called Engineering Everywhere. The Minneapolis district uses the elementary program systemwide, targeting grades 3-5. It chose units that “reinforced and extended concepts we already address in science,” said Joseph F. Alfano, the 32,000-student district’s K-5 coordinator for stem, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. A bonus with the program, he said, is that as teachers come to understand the “instructional pathway” for engineering design, they discover engineering-design opportunities of their own that fit with the district’s math and science curriculum. “It’s super hands-on,” said Amber Ringwelski, a 4th grade teacher at Pillsbury Community School in Minneapolis, of the eie curriculum. “Students are really solving problems.” She recently taught a unit in which students explore the properties of magnets and design a maglev transportation system. (Maglev trains are levitated by magnets.) “The kids love it,” she said of the program. “They’re used to us saying, step-by-step, this is what you’re supposed to do. But it’s not about that. It’s about them designing, to go wild and have fun.” The big takeaway for kids, she said, is about the engineeringdesign process: “Asking a question, imagining all the possibilities, designing something, creating something, and then going back and making it better.” Coverage of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education is supported by a grant from the Noyce Foundation, at

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 27, 2013

Education Week - March 27, 2013
N.Y.C. System School-Match Gaps Tracked
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Educators Questioning Timing of
Resident Teachers Are Getting More ‘Practice’
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Race to Top Districts ‘Personalize’ Plans
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Study Finds Gaps in ‘College Ready’ Math Offerings
Early-Algebra Push Found to Yield No NAEP Boost
Math Teachers Break Down Standards For At-Risk Students
More Teachers Group Students by Ability
San Diego Superintendent Pick Has Deep Parental Ties
Partnership Combines Science Instruction and English Learning
States’ Score Cards Pinpoint Problems Of School Climate
Experts: Later School Start Helps Sleep-Deprived Teens
Blogs of the Week
Project Aims to Expand Web Access
New NAEP Demands Application of Knowledge
Elementary Students Tackling Windmills
Policy Brief
'Parent Trigger’ Laws Catching Fresh Wave
School Angles Seen in Same-Sex-Marriage Cases
‘Sequester’ Cuts Still in Place Amid Budget Wrangling
Political Storm Rages as Acting N.M. Chief Presses on With Job
Congress Eyes Pre-K
REGIS ANNE SHIELDS & KAREN HAWLEY MILES: Want Effective Teachers? Think About Your Value Proposition
ALISON CROWLEY: Getting Rid of the GPS: Teaching the Common Standards in Math
STEPHEN R. HERR: Celebrating Without Accomplishing
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment
AMANDA GARDNER: The Many Keys To Radical Classroom Change

Education Week - March 27, 2013