Global Navigation Element.
 


Fall 2009 Vol. 9 Number 2



Next
Table of Contents
Previous


MEETINGS

NAE President Charles Vest at the event to release Engineering in K-12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects, photos by William Geiger Teaching Engineering in the K-12 Classroom


Most Americans agree that educating students in the sciences, technology, engineering, and math — known as STEM education — is very important to U.S. competitiveness and economic prosperity. STEM lessons are required in public K-12 schools, but STEM subjects are taught as separate disciplines, usually focusing on math or science. The engineering component of STEM is often absent in policy discussions and in the classroom, says a new report from National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. “Engineering might be called the missing letter in STEM,” according to Engineering in K-12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects.

“STEM education in the U.S. is woefully inadequate for the future of our nation, and it is insufficient to produce a robust field of opportunity for our children,” said Charles Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering, during a symposium at which the report’s findings were presented.

The report evaluated dozens of K-12 engineering curricula and data on their effectiveness. Participants at the event to release Engineering in K-12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects, photos by William GeigerIt found that the engineering approach to problem solving has the potential to improve math and science learning, raise technological literacy among students, and increase interest in engineering as a potential career. Moreover, said the committee that wrote the report, inclusion of engineering can promote interconnections among the STEM subjects, such as when engineering design supports science inquiry and mathematical reasoning. In short, engineering has the potential to act as a catalyst for more effective K-12 STEM education.

Connecting the four STEM subjects will require significant rethinking of what STEM education can and should be. Among the study committee’s recommendations are to research the impacts of engineering education; research ways to connect scientific inquiry and mathematical reasoning to engineering design; and start a dialogue on how best to prepare K-12 engineering teachers.

Steve Meyer, a high school teacher from Wisconsin who spoke at the symposium where the report was released, said, “Engineering topics allow students to solve problems across a variety of fields, and as a result, they appeal to teenagers with a range of abilities and interests.”

Teaching students via integrated STEM lessons may have great potential for sparking discovery in the future. — Maureen O’Leary

For links to the report and photos and audio from the symposium, visit <national-academies.org/morenews/20090908.html>.



Previous Table of Contents Next




Copyright 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences