New bill in Congress supporting K-12 engineering education

March 19, 2010 at 9:49 am 1 comment

I wonder if this new bill could be used to support computing education, too.

To award planning grants and implementation grants to State educational agencies to enable the State educational agencies to complete comprehensive planning to carry out activities designed to integrate engineering education into K-12 instruction and curriculum and to provide evaluation grants to measure efficacy of K-12 engineering education.

via Search Results – THOMAS (Library of Congress).

One of findings is:

The introduction of engineering education has the potential to improve student learning and achievement in science and mathematics, increase awareness about what engineers do and of engineering as a potential career, and boost students’ technological literacy, according to a new report, `Engineering in K-12 Education‘ from the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the National Research Council (NRC).

and it defines ‘technological literacy’ here:

Schools, policy makers, and other stakeholders often narrowly refer to the term `technologically literate’ as the ability to use educational technologies. Although educational technology is important, it is far from the only type of technology we depend on in a modern society. In 2006, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council’s report, `Technically Speaking’, outlined a broader view of `technological literacy’, one more consistent with how scientists, engineers, and technologists see the world. In this view, technological literacy includes–

(A) knowledge of technology, the engineering design process, and impacts on society;

(B) critical thinking and decisionmaking weighing benefits, risks, costs, and tradeoffs; and

(C) capability to use a variety of technologies, apply the design process, fix simple technological problems, and obtain and understand information about technological issues.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Janet Kolodner  |  March 19, 2010 at 10:25 am

    So, I was on a national committee that has been putting together targets for technology and engineering literacy. There are big political issues as to whether computational thinking/computing education fits in. Schools right now focus on kids being able to use computers,and it was important that we made that part of what we promoted (after all, computers are a pretty important segment of the technological world we interact with). However, we did not try to put programming and computational thinking into the targets for our efforts; it was just too much, as the purpose of this “technological literacy” effort was to focus on what kids need to know to understand the designed world around us, to productively use and troubleshoot designed systems, to understand the ways and reasons we design, to reason about why things are designed the way they are, and to eventually, maybe, participate in designing our world. Though computers play a big role in this, it really was/is an engineering effort, and its focus was/is on getting engineering into schools — otherwise, how will people know to go into engineering?

    So, actually, this community has a bunch of issues that are the same as those of the computing community. The big question, of course, is what do we want everybody to learn in high school, and what are the things we want students to know and be capable of to participate in the world as productive and participating citizens? And then, of course, how do we fit it all in? It would be a shame if computing and engineering got into fights about this, on the one hand, and on the other hand, how do you get it all in?

    I am also on national committees about integrating computational thinking into K-12 education; this will be an interesting set of topics, and I’d love to hear what advice people have for me to take to these meetings.

    Remember, too, that there are several things going on — advocacy (how do we get it into schools) and conceptualizing (what does everyone need to know and be capable of). Conceptualizing is in many ways a lot easier; you can do those things separately. Advocacy requires some collaboration between different groups; otherwise, there is too much contention — you can’t keep adding to what everyone needs to know without figuring out what to delete and how to integrate.



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