Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Engineering the Education of our Students

A Science Framework for K-12 Science Education, the blueprint for the Next Generation Science Standards, made it immediately clear that engineering practices would be highlighted as critically important when they were included as one of three dimensions of science learning in the Standards. Upon reading the framework, I panicked a little. Sure, I have included inquiry and discovery experiences in my classroom for years, but engineering? What in the world would I have my students engineer?

I found a great resource in eGFI (engineering, go for it!), brought to us by the American Society for Engineering Education. The eGFI brand includes an interactive website with many lesson plans and ideas, a magazine, an e-newsletter, and more. The recent edition of the e-newsletter announced a program for teachers to earn an engineering certificate through the graduate school at Tufts University. This afternoon I attended a webinar to learn more about the program.

The faculty at Tufts University's Center for Engineering Education and Outreach will launch the program this fall for K-12 teachers. There are four graduate classes, each four credit hours, that will be presented as asynchronous online experiences. Two of the classes are engineering content classes; two of the classes are engineering pedagogy classes. They are designed to be taken in a particular order and as a set, though teachers may elect to take just one or two of them as standalone classes if they wish. 

The webinar made it clear that these are Tufts graduate classes and will have requirements and responsibilities, including a focus on engineering design challenges. Participants will receive a kit in the mail with the most of materials they need to solve a problem. They will photograph and videotape their solutions, as well as participate in discussions and assignments with other participants. There are separate pedagogy tracks, and different projects, for elementary and secondary teachers. The classes are taught by the faculty at Tufts and graduate students will provide assistance as needed. I wish I would have asked how much time would be necessary to complete the assignments. Here is an example of the type of challenge students will work on:

I was bracing myself for the cost, but I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the pricetag. The courses cost $1000 each plus a materials fee. They are offering some aid, especially as they put together this first cohort of teachers. 16 graduate hours from Tufts and a certificate of completion for around $4000 sounds pretty reasonable.

I am intrigued. Are you? You can register for the upcoming webinar if you want to learn more about this interesting program. Or visit the website to read more about it.  While you are online, sign up for the eGFI newsletter here. And check out the website too. If you are looking for excellent engineering activities, you will find them there.

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