practical, outcome orientation of design problems before they are able to engage in the abstract, theoretical nature of many scientific inquiries. In general, high school students do not distinguish between the roles of science and technology. Helping them do so is implied by this standard. This lack of distinction between science and technology is further confused by students' positive perceptions of science, as when they associate it with medical research and use the common phrase "scientific progress." However, their association of technology is often with environmental problems and another common phrase, "technological problems." With regard to the connection between science and technology, students as well as many adults and teachers of science indicate a belief that science influences technology. This belief is captured by the common and only partially accurate definition "technology is applied science.'' Few students understand that technology influences science. Unraveling these misconceptions of science and technology and developing accurate concepts of the role, place, limits, possibilities and relationships of science and technology is the challenge of this standard.

The choice of design tasks and related learning activities is an important and difficult part of addressing this standard. In choosing technological learning activities, teachers of science will have to bear in mind some important issues. For example, whether to involve students in a full or partial design problem; or whether to engage them in meeting a need through technology or in studying the technological work of others. Another issue is how to select a task that brings out the various ways in which science and technology interact, providing a basis for reflection on the nature of technology while learning the science concepts involved.

In grades 9-12, design tasks should explore a range of contexts including both those immediately familiar in the homes, school, and community of the students and those from wider regional, national, or global contexts. The tasks should promote different ways to tackle the problems so that different design solutions can be implemented by different students. Successful completion of design problems requires that the students meet criteria while addressing conflicting constraints. Where constructions are involved, these might draw on technical skills and understandings developed within the science program, technical and craft skills developed in other school work, or require developing new skills.

Over the high school years, the tasks should cover a range of needs, of materials, and of different aspects of science. For example, a suitable design problem could include assembling electronic components to control a sequence of operations or analyzing the features of different athletic shoes to see the criteria and constraints imposed by the sport, human anatomy, and materials. Some tasks should involve science ideas drawn from more than one field of science. These can be complex, for example, a machine that incorporates both mechanical and electrical control systems.

Although some experiences in science and technology will emphasize solving problems and meeting needs by focusing on products, experience also should include problems about system design, cost, risk, benefit, and very importantly, tradeoffs.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement