Engineering the Future
Leaders in many states and districts have recognized that job prospects for students in engineering, technology, and allied fields are already strong and growing rapidly. Consequently they are looking for affordable curriculum materials to strengthen engineering and technology education at the high school level. Engineering the Future has been designed to meet that need. Engineering the Future: Science, Technology, and the Design Process is a set of four design-based project modules, which can be taught as a one-year course or as four eight-week projects, that introduce students to the world of technology and engineering. Through practical real-world connections, students have an opportunity to see how science, mathematics, and engineering are part of their every day world, and why it is important for every citizen to be technologically and scientifically literate.
Engineering the Future, 2nd Edition, is designed to fully support Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Standards for Technological Literacy (STL), as well as standards of many states. It has a rich set of integrated STEM activities to appeal to a wide range of student interests, and expands the use of a constructivist “maker” approach in which students design and build with both traditional engineering materials and new technologies, including 3D CAD and electronics.
A remarkable aspect of the new science standards has been the explicit inclusion of engineering and technology within science, not just as a means for better communicating science, but also as a means for helping students develop problem solving skills. A complementary change is that the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as The Nation’s Report Card, has added an assessment of Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL), in addition to the semi-annual assessments in mathematics, reading, and science. In 2016 the National Assessment Governing Board released the results of the first TEL assessment with a nationally representative sample of 21,500 eighth graders. Findings were that only 41% of boys scored at the proficient level or above, while 44% of girls scored proficient or above. These findings indicate that our students still have much room to improve, and also that girls are outperforming boys in some areas. Engineering the Future can provide the kinds of learning opportunities that all students need to achieve technological literacy.
- Introduction to Engineering. Placement of this course in the first year of high school opens students to career interests that would otherwise have lain dormant. The early hands-on maker approach to integrated engineering and science serves to inspire future interest in later sciences and engineering courses, opening a door for those who wish to enroll in technical studies at a college or university.
- Physical Science Foundations. The course can be used as the foundation of a project-based course in physical science, integrated with engineering design. Given the large number of physical science standards that are the focus of these activities, some of our pilot teachers testing the second edition have received approval to consider EtF to be a fully credited physical science ninth grade course.
- Capstone Course. Engineering the Future can serve as a capstone course for high school juniors or seniors to apply all that they learned in high school to practical situations, ranging from science and math, to history, social studies, communication—even art and music. The course can also provide an excellent introduction to the fields of engineering for students who are considering technical careers.
- Summer and After-School Programs. Given the "maker" approach aspects of instruction, and high priority on activities that engage students’ creativity, these projects could also be useful in a STEM after-school or summer program.
Engineering the Future should not be considered in isolation, but as one step in a sequence of courses that students take as they progress through high school. When students complete this course, they will have a broader understanding of the wide variety of technical careers that are open to them. Some students may wish to take more courses in science or math or more specialized courses in technical fields. However, not all students will wish to become involved in science and technology as careers. By providing alternative sequences, students will have opportunities to choose pathways that are consistent with their current interests and desires while keeping open their options for the future.