[2008/09] Study: Hands-on projects may be best way to teach engineering and technology concepts — from Purdue University as reported by Kim Medaris

From DSC:
This study focused on 126 eighth graders from Indiana; it presents one perspective on teaching STEM-related topics.

Exploring the Effectiveness of an Interdisciplinary Water Resources Engineering Module in an Eighth Grade Science Class

Jody L. Riskowski, Carrie Davis Todd, Bryan Wee,
Melissa Dark, Jon Harbor

Engineering education has historically been given little attention in U.S. K-12 classrooms even though engineering incorporates scientific and mathematical concepts into meaningful, everyday applications. Including engineering and design projects in K-12 science and mathematics classes may improve student interest and comprehension, while also reaching a broader range of students than traditional lecture-based classes.  For this study, the authors implemented an engineering design project focusing on water resources in 8th grade science classes. Students were exposed to either an engineering project (treatment) or a more traditional format (control) and their knowledge of water resource issues was evaluated using a pre-post assessment tool. Overall, students in the treatment classes showed statistically significant improvement in two areas – they displayed higher levels of thinking on open-ended questions and greater content knowledge. This research indicates the effectiveness of engineering in enhancing student learning and supports its inclusion in the middle school science curriculum.

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