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Standards for K-12 Engineering?

January 07, 2011

A new National Academy of Engineering (NAE) report, Standards for K-12 Engineering Education?, assesses the feasibility of developing and implementing content standards for K-12 engineering education. A growing number of students are being exposed to engineering. Evidence suggests that engineering education can stimulate interest and improve learning in math and science as well as engineering and technology. Standards in STEM education exist for science, technology, and math, but not engineering.

The report concludes it would be difficult to ensure the effective implementation of K-12 engineering standards for many reasons: limited experience with K-12 engineering education in U.S. elementary and secondary schools; lack of educators qualified to teach engineering; inconclusive evidence on the impact of educational reforms on student learning in math and science; and barriers to introducing standards for a new area in an already burdened curriculum. The report recommends educators reach consensus on core K-12 engineering concepts and skills for students; develop guidelines for engineering instructional materials, and examine national and statewide engineering education.

However, Ioannis Miaoulis, president and director of the Museum of Science, Boston and founding director of the National Center for Technological Literacy®, told Education Daily® that standards for K-12 engineering education are warranted now, as more and more initiatives are introducing engineering to U.S. students. Massachusetts has embedded technology and engineering principles in revising the state's science standards. Several states -- New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Indiana, Washington, and Oregon -- have followed.

"I think the Academies missed a great opportunity to voice loud and clear that engineering should be equal to the other disciplines and not remain a stepchild. I don't see why we should have science standards starting from kindergarten and not engineering, when engineering is more helpful in our daily lives." The engineering design process helps students create new technologies and solutions to problems. Miaoulis believes K-12 engineering standards will offer curricula developers, teachers, administrators, and students clear expectations.

Source: Education Daily®. LRP Publications, P.O. Box 24668, West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4668. All rights reserved. For more information, call 1-800-341-7874 or visit www.shoplrp.com/ed.

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