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Engineering in K–12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects
munications, transportation, civil engineering, aeronautics, and electronics; the exam also includes a biotechnology module.
In addition to two engineering sciences courses, students pursuing the Israeli ORT curriculum pick a specialization course from one of the following areas: motion systems, biomedical engineering, robotic systems, artificial intelligence, or aerospace engineering. The content of the sample exam for the ORT curriculum, however, appears to focus on computer programming. The French baccalauréat programs cover a variety of engineering domains spread over different ‘séries’ in the ‘bac’. In the engineering series, the focus is on electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and information science.
Treatment of Science, Technology, and Mathematics
International pre-college engineering initiatives appear to face same challenges as U.S. initiatives, such as teaching students to use math and science to solve or optimize authentic design challenges. In the French curriculum, math and science are integrated, but at a high level of difficulty. Exam questions for the ‘Séries de Sciences de l’Ingénieur’ describe a technical device that has to meet a given set of requirements, and students are asked to calculate certain variables based on their knowledge of science.
In most instances, however, math and science concepts are treated as separate from technological content. For example, sample assessment items for the Australian HSCE require the application of scientific knowledge and mathematical skills to problems specific to technical devices. Either the technical device is used as a context for asking a question that requires knowledge of science and/or math, or the question is about technology and does not require science or math.
The same separation was evident in exam questions and practical assessment tasks in the South African curriculum. The exam includes questions about abstract situations (e.g., diagrams representing electrical and logical circuits) in which students must make calculations and apply their knowledge of the laws of electricity. The practical assignments are design challenges, but they do not encourage the application of science or math to develop or optimize the design solution.