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First Engineering Education Research Summit

January 11, 2011

Purdue University's Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) hosted the first nationwide preschool-12 engineering education research summit last August in Seaside, Oregon. Welcoming participants from across the country, Oregon Congressman David Wu announced his co-sponsorship of the first legislation promoting K-12 engineering education in academic classrooms. The Engineering Education for Innovation Act (E2 bill) was introduced by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and House Representative Paul Tonko and largely crafted by the Museum of Science's National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®).

One summit presenter, the NCTL's Cathy Lachapelle, discussed two studies related to the NCTL's Engineering is Elementary (EiE) curriculum. The first one showed that elementary teachers' ideas about engineering and technology were closer to a standards-based definition after participating in EiE professional development and teaching, suggesting that EiE helps teachers to better understand what engineering and technology are. Teachers also made greater use of engineering concepts and examples, including the engineering design process, across STEM subjects after participating in EiE. Another study showed that students using EiE learned significantly more about engineering, technology, and science than the control group studying related science alone, again suggesting EiE as the probable cause. Teachers point to EiE curriculum features that may be important to student learning.

Several researchers and practitioners at the summit were using EiE as a basis for research in teacher preparation and student learning.

Summit organizers are building a community of practice in P-12 engineering education and research. Look for their new book, Engineering in Pre-College Settings: Research into Practice, the first comprehensive summary of research-based practices to infuse engineering into K-12 classrooms and increase public understanding of engineering. They are creating a listserv (email: and the Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research (J-PEER) which will include methodologically rigorous research and practitioners' reports.

Related Links

The Museum of Science, Boston

  1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114  phone: 617-723-2500