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Student Learning through Engineering Design @ Riverside Design

December 26, 2012
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  12/27/12 Staff members from Riverside Intermediate School have partnered with Purdue University in the engineering design process.  In June of 2012 several Riverside teachers participated in the Science Learning through Engineering Design (SLED) Summer Institute.  Participating teachers included:  Elyse Chudzynski, Sarah Glassburn, Eric Knebel, Amy Lewis, Mindy Mattis, Nikki Rumpler, Alison Stone, Sue Turpin, Stacy VanDerWeele, and Kyle Whiteman.

  The SLED vision is to increase grade 3-6 student learning of science by developing Indiana’s first integrated, engineering design-based approach to elementary/intermediate school science education. Engineering, science, technology, and education faculty will work directly with 200 elementary /intermediate inservice teachers, 100 preservice elementary teachers, and 5,000 students in the four partnering Indiana school districts. Project goals are to: 1) create a partnership of university engineers and scientists, teacher educators, school teachers and administrators, and community partners to improve science education in grades 3-6 through the integration of engineering design; 2) enhance the quality, quantity, and diversity of in-service and pre-service teachers prepared to utilize engineering design to teach science through authentic, inquiry-based, multi-disciplinary, design projects; 3) adapt, refine, and test existing project- and design-based curricular materials/tasks, and where necessary develop new ones, to support the teaching of elementary science through authentic, inquiry-based, multi-disciplinary, design projects; and 4) generate evidence-based outcomes for understanding how teachers teach science through engineering design and how young students learn science concepts through design-based activities. The partnership will use summer institutes, linkages with Purdue preservice teachers, cyberrinfrastructure, action research, and graduate coursework to equip teachers with design-based pedagogical skills and science content.

  By blending math and science disciplines, engineering design provides a strong mechanism to facilitate integrated instruction and connections among concepts and to the real world and to build student understanding and appreciation for both content areas.  SLED extends research to test hypotheses of whether authentic engineering learning tasks are more likely to hold the attention and interest of elementary / intermediate students, lead to deeper levels of science engagement and improved achievement, and advance teacher understanding of a broader range of engineering practice.

  SLED addresses a newly introduced Indiana Academic Science Standards core standard entitled “the design process” that will soon require Indiana K-12 teachers to have the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to teach science through engineering design. SLED will create an effective model for high quality science teacher professional development in Indiana and a more systematic trajectory for merging design and inquiry curriculum in Indiana schools. The project provides strong opportunities to inform a revision of the mandated Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress for first-time measurement of what students know in relation to this new design process core standard. Sustainable impacts include inservice and preservice professional development to teach science through authentic, inquiry-based, multidisciplinary design projects; a cyber-enabled community of engineering design educators accessing a library of tested, design-based curricular materials to support teaching science in grades 3-6; formal integration of engineering design-based curriculum in grades 3-6 of partner schools; and tested resources for addressing unique challenges of supporting integrative engineering design curriculum in rural schools.

Plymouth Community School Corporation will continue its partnership with Purdue.  During the summer of 2013, Plymouth third and fourth grade teachers will be attending the summer institute at Purdue.

written by Jeni Hirschy and Nikki Rumpler

1  Olivia Waymouth is building her picnic table shading device.  This was a design task where students had to use their knowledge of seasons and shadows to create a prototype.
2  Jolie Koontz (left) and Landrie Mattern (right) are building a UV sensor.

3  Kendall Himes is measuring the mass of the oatmeal his group is adding to their compost column.

4  This is an example of a compost column.  Students were challenged to design an efficient way of making compost.  They all used the same compost column design, but had to determine how to make the best compost.  All groups had different ideas.  Students kept track of data including weight, temperature, and evidence of decomposition for six weeks.  At the end of the project, students were able to dump their compost column and see how effective their ideas were- and they had GREAT compost

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