tional policies, programs, and practice at the local, state, and federal levels might permit meaningful inclusion of engineering at the K–12 level in the United States?
The committee believes this report will be of special interest to individuals and groups interested in improving the quality of K–12 STEM education in this country. But engineering educators, policy makers, employers, and others concerned about the development of the country’s technical workforce will also find much to ponder. The report should prove useful to advocates for greater public understanding of engineering, as well as to those working to boost citizens’ technological and scientific literacy. Finally, for educational researchers and cognitive scientists, the document exposes a rich set of questions related to how and under what conditions students come to understand engineering.
The specifics of how engineering is taught vary from school district to school district, and what takes place in classrooms in the name of engineering education does not always align with generally accepted ideas about the discipline and practice of engineering. This is not to suggest that K–12 students should be treated like little engineers, but when a school subject is taught for which there is a professional counterpart, there should be a conceptual connection to post-secondary studies and to the practice of that subject in the real world.
The committee set forth three general principles for K–12 engineering education.
Principle 1. K–12 engineering education should emphasize engineering design.
The design process, the engineering approach to identifying and solving problems, is (1) highly iterative; (2) open to the idea that a problem may have many possible solutions; (3) a meaningful context for learning scientific, mathematical, and technological concepts; and (4) a stimulus to systems thinking, modeling, and analysis. In all of these ways, engineering design is a potentially useful pedagogical strategy.