Engineering in K–12 Education

UNDERSTANDING THE STATUS AND IMPROVING THE PROSPECTS

Committee on K–12 Engineering Education

Linda Katehi, Greg Pearson, and Michael Feder, Editors

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING AND NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

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Committee on K–12 Engineering Education Linda Katehi, Greg Pearson, and Michael Feder, Editors

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by a grant between the National Academy of Sciences and Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. Additional support was provided by the National Science Founda- tion (Contract/Grant No. DRL-0935879) and PTC, Inc. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Engineering in K–12 education : understanding the status and improving the prospects / Committee on K–12 Engineering Education ; Linda Katehi, Greg Pearson, and Michael Feder, editors. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-309-13778-2 (pbk.) — ISBN 978-0-309-13779-9 (pdf) 1. Engineering— Study and teaching (Elementary)—United States. 2. Engineering—Study and teaching (Secondary)—United States. I. Katehi, Linda. II. Pearson, Greg. III. Feder, Michael. IV. Committee on K–12 Engineering Education. LB1594.E54 2009 620.0071—dc22 2009028717 Copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu Copyright 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of dis- tinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the further- ance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibil- ity given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scien- tific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON K–12 ENGINEERING EDUCATION LINDA P.B. KATEHI, NAE (chair), University of California, Davis LYNN BASHAM, Virginia Department of Education, Richmond, Virginia M. DAVID BURGHARDT, Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York KATHLEEN CONN, Neumann College, Aston, Pennsylvania ALAN G. GOMEZ, Sun Prairie High School, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin CRAIG KESSELHEIM, Great Schools Partnership in Maine, Portland, Maine MICHAEL C. LACH, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Illinois RICHARD LEHRER, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee DEBORAH MCGRIFF, NewSchools Venture Fund, Boston, Massachusetts ROLAND J. OTTO, University of California, Berkeley RICHARD J. SCHAAR, Texas Instruments, Plano, Texas MARK SCHROLL, The Kern Family Foundation, Waukesha, Wisconsin CHRISTIAN D. SCHUNN, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania JACQUELYN F. SULLIVAN, University of Colorado, Boulder ROBIN WILLNER, International Business Machines Corporation, Armonk, New York Project Staff GREG PEARSON, Study Director and Senior Program Officer, National Academy of Engineering MICHAEL FEDER, Senior Program Officer, National Research Council CAROL R. ARENBERG, Senior Editor, National Academy of Engineering MARIBETH KEITZ, Senior Program Associate, National Academy of Engineering ROBERT POOL, Freelance Writer KENNETH WELTY, Research Consultant, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Stout v

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Preface T his report is the final product of a two-year study by the Commit- tee on K–12 Engineering Education, a group of experts on diverse subjects under the auspices of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the Board on Science Education at the Center for Education, part of the National Research Council (NRC). The committee’s charge was to determine the scope and nature of efforts to teach engineering to the nation’s elementary and secondary students. In fulfilling that charge, the committee considered a number of specific questions, such as What types of curricula and teacher professional development have been used? How does engineering education “interact” with science, technology, and mathematics? And what impact—on student learning, interest in engineering, and other outcomes—have various initiatives had? Engineering education is a relatively new school subject in U.S. K–12 education. Up to this point it has developed in an ad hoc fashion, and its spread into classrooms has been fairly modest. Even so, the presence of engineering in K–12 classrooms is an important phenomenon, because it casts new light on the very important issue of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. There is broad agreement today among educators, policy makers, and industry leaders that the teaching of STEM subjects in American K–12 schools must be improved. Many of the concerns about STEM education tie to worries about the innovation capacity of the United States and its ability to compete in the global marketplace. vii

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viii PREFACE This report will be of special interest to individuals and groups interested in improving the quality of K–12 STEM education in this country. Engi- neering educators, policy makers, employers, and others concerned about the development of the country’s technical workforce will also find much to ponder. The report should prove useful to advocates for greater public understanding of engineering, as well as to those working to boost citizens’ technological and scientific literacy. Finally, for educational researchers and cognitive scientists, the document exposes a rich set of questions related to how and under what conditions students come to understand engineering. The committee met five times, sponsored two data-gathering workshops, and solicited online input from the public midway through the project. The committee also commissioned an analysis of a number of existing K–12 engi- neering curricula; conducted reviews of the literature on areas of conceptual learning related to engineering, the development of engineering skills, and the impacts of K–12 engineering education initiatives; and collected prelimi- nary information about a few pre-college engineering education programs in other countries. Beyond this data gathering, the report reflects the personal and professional experiences and judgments of committee members. Linda P.B. Katehi, Chair Committee on K–12 Engineering Education

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Acknowledgments T his report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical com- ments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: William F. Bertrand, Bureau of Teaching and Learning Support, Division of Standards and Curriculum, Pennsylvania Department of Education Lizanne DeStefano, Bureau of Educational Research, College of Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign David P. Driscoll, Consultant, Melrose, Massachusetts Katie M. Dodge, Cooper Upper Elementary, Livonia Public Schools, Livonia, Michigan Susan Hackwood, Office of the Executive Director, California Council on Science and Technology ix

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x ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Joseph G. Langhauser, Fleet and Commercial Sales, Mobility Program, General Motors Corporation Karl S. Pister, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley Mark Sanders, Integrative STEM Education, Virginia Tech Reed Stevens, Cognitive Studies in Education, University of Washington Carl Truxel, Technology Education Department, Dulaney High School, Baltimore County Public Schools, Baltimore, Maryland Yannis C. Yortsos, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by William G. Agnew, Retired Director, Programs and Plans, General Motors Corporation, Corrales, New Mexico. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. In addition to the reviewers, many other individuals assisted in the devel- opment of this report. Anthony J. Petrosino and Vanessa Svihla, University of Texas at Austin, and Sean Brophy, Purdue University, prepared a commis- sioned paper examining cognitive science research related to engineering skills; Eli M. Silk and committee member Christian D. Schunn, University of Pittsburgh, prepared a commissioned paper examining cognitive science research related to core concepts in engineering; Vanessa Svihla, Jill Marshall, University of Texas at Austin, and Anthony J. Petrosino prepared a commis- sioned paper examining the impacts of K–12 engineering education efforts; Jonson Miller, Drexel University, prepared a commissioned paper reviewing the history of engineering and technical education in the United States; and Marc J. de Vries, Eindhoven University of Technology/Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, prepared a commissioned paper examining pre-college engineering education initiatives outside the United States. Thanks are also due to the project staff. Maribeth Keitz managed the study’s logistical and administrative needs, making sure meetings and work- shops ran efficiently and smoothly. Christine Mirzayan Science & Technol-

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xi ogy Policy Graduate Fellow Carolyn Williams did extensive research on pre-college engineering education programs outside the United States, work that led to the commissioned paper by Marc de Vries. Freelance writer Robert Pool helped write several chapters of the report. NAE Senior Editor Carol R. Arenberg substantially improved the readability of the report. Special thanks are due to Kenneth Welty, University of Wisconsin, Stout, who conducted an extensive analysis of K–12 engineering curricula that substantially informed the committee’s work. Michael Feder, at the NRC Board on Science Educa- tion, helped guide the project from its inception. Greg Pearson, at the NAE, played a key role in conceptualizing the study and managed the project from start to finish.

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Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 15 Current K–12 STEM Education, 16 The Study and Report, 21 References, 23 Annex, 24 2 WHAT IS ENGINEERING? 27 A Brief History of the Engineering Profession, 28 The Role of Engineering in Modern Society, 36 Design as a Problem-Solving Process, 37 Important Concepts in Engineering, 41 The Relationship of Engineering to Science and Mathematics, 43 Engineering in the Twenty-First Century, 44 References, 45 3 THE CASE FOR K–12 ENGINEERING EDUCATION 49 The Benefits of K–12 Engineering Education, 49 Limitations of the Data, 63 References, 64 xiii

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xiv CONTENTS 4 THE CURRENT STATE OF K–12 ENGINEERING EDUCATION 71 Review of Curricula, 72 Conceptual Model of Engineering Curricula, 76 Professional Development, 103 Obstacles Facing Professional Development Programs, 112 References, 113 Annex: Pre-University Engineering Education in Other Countries, 115 5 TEACHING AND LEARNING CORE ENGINEERING CONCEPTS AND SKILLS IN GRADES K–12 119 Engineering Concepts, 120 Engineering Skills, 133 Lessons Learned, 140 References, 143 6 FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 149 General Principles for K–12 Engineering Education, 151 The Scope of K–12 Engineering Education, 152 Impacts of K–12 Engineering Education, 154 The Nature of K–12 Engineering Education, 155 Policy and Program Issues, 161 Integrated STEM Education, 164 A Final Word, 167 References, 167 Annex: Three Case Studies, 169 APPENDIXES A Committee Biographies 181 B Curriculum Projects—Descriptive Summaries 189 C Curriculum Projects—Detailed Analyses* INDEX 211 *Appendix C is reproduced on the CD (inside back cover) and in the PDF available online at http://www.nap/edu/catalog.php?record_id=12635.

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List of Acronyms AAAS American Association for the Advancement of Science ASCE American Society of Civil Engineers ASEE American Society for Engineering Education A World in Motion® AWIM CAD/CAM computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing CLT cognitive load theory CD compact disk CO2 carbon dioxide DPS Denver Public Schools DSST Denver School of Science and Technology DVD digital video disk EPICS Engineering Projects in Community Service FBS function-behavior-structure FIRST For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology HSCE Higher School Certificate in Engineering xv

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xvi LIST OF ACRONYMS INSPIRES INcreasing Student Participation, Interest, and Recruitment in Engineering and Science ITEA International Technology Education Association K–12 kindergarten through grade 12 M/S/T mathematics/science/technology MWM Material World Modules NAE National Academy of Engineering NAEP National Assessment of Educational Progress NAGB National Assessment Governing Board NCETE National Center for Engineering and Technology Education NCLB No Child Left Behind NSF National Science Foundation PD professional development PLTW Project Lead the Way SAE Society of Automotive Engineers SBF structure-behavior-function SMET science, mathematics, engineering, and technology STEM science, technology, engineering, and mathematics TCNJ The College of New Jersey TIMSS Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study TISD Texarkana Independent School District