Solomon and Hall (1996) explain that drawing ability may be accelerated when students learn the various roles a drawing may play. Craft skills improve with familiarization via direct experience with the tools and materials to be used. Improvement in craft skills leads to improvement in spatial ability, including visual and haptic shape recognition, as well as manipulation and translation between two and three dimensions (Solomon and Hall, 1996).

In their review, Lehrer and Schauble (2006) pointed out various methods of instruction that evidence shows support modeling. First, informed decisions about the sequencing and timing of introducing new and more difficult forms of modeling are critical to support student learning. Second, involving students in group activities is essential to helping students understand and appropriate the inquiry processes, emphasize the development and use of different forms of representation, and capitalize on the cyclical nature of modeling. Third, modeling approaches only develop when inquiry is a priority in the classroom. Fourth, nuanced forms of modeling require a long-term effort and are more likely to develop in students who build on successively complex experiences with modeling. Finally, although this is not usually done in traditional classrooms, critiquing and discussing their own models and those of other students can support students’ understanding of engineering design.

Experimenting and Testing

In professional practice, engineering designers use experimentation and testing to determine the level of optimization of a design and whether all of the requirements have been met. This step may be done with full or partial prototypes or with virtual models using finite elements analysis. Unlike scientific experimentation, the purpose of which is to identify causal relationships through a process that does not involve optimization and trade-offs, engineering experimentation and testing are iterative processes with multiple steps, including modeling and analysis (Schauble et al., 1991). The differences can be attributed to the similar but different purposes of engineering and science.

As described in Chapter 2, scientists ask questions about the world around us, whereas engineers modify the world to adapt it to our needs. Scientific inquiry is concerned with what is, while engineering design is focused on what can be. Models may be used by both, but the nature and purpose of models in science and engineering are different due to differences between scientific inquiry and engineering design. Understanding these differences is critical to understanding potential learning outcomes when engineering

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