If you teach math or science and are interested in application problems or project-based learning, read on. If you teach other subjects but are interested in what engineering can offer your students, read on too. There are some great organizations and publications in the engineering world that might be of use to K-12 teachers, but sometimes the lack of an “engineering” course in high schools makes it harder to see the link than, say, between high school physics and university physics.
I’m always on the lookout for ways to bridge the gap between those worlds, as well as ways to strengthen understanding of how science and engineering are separate but complementary. In light of that, here’s a bit of info about the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), for those who might like to check it out. You don’t have to be an engineer to join, and most of their publications are written for a broad audience (reading level similar to Scientific American, not Nature).
K-12 Working Group and Annual Conference
The ASEE maintains a working group of K-12 educators and higher-ed faculty who develop resource materials and school programs. The group puts on a workshop at the annual conference every year (I haven’t attended, but I hope to check it out). The benefit I’ve found here is mostly meeting the people, not using the lesson plans (I found them a bit simpler than I was looking for) but your mileage may vary.
The ASEE’s monthly magazine, Prism, is a highly readable blend of technology news and educational practice. The current issue’s topics include innovative course designs (Motorsports, Game Development, Engineering Disasters), snake-like robots, assistive technology for disabled athletes, and an article called “Scientist as Mad Artist: An engineering educator merges dissent and avant-garde design.” My students and I regularly use this for project inspiration.
Journal of Engineering Education
This is the ASEE’s peer-reviewed international research journal. I started writing this post today because an article in the latest edition caught my eye: “Problem-based Learning: Influence on Students’ Learning in an Electrical Engineering Course.” Their results included that “participants’ learning gains from PBL were twice their gains from traditional lecture. Even though students learned more from PBL, students thought they learned more from traditional lecture. We discuss these findings and offer implications for faculty interested in implementing PBL.” I was able to access the full text without logging in (let me know if the link doesn’t work). Another interesting title in the table of contents is “Elementary School Students’ Conceptions of Engineering.” Lots of food for thought.
If you check these out, let me know whether they’re useful. I’m interested in your thoughts about what would encourage collaboration between K-12 and higher ed in engineering and technology fields.