NEW FEATURE: CLASSROOM CHALLENGE • ENGINEERING DNA
T h e V o i c e o f T e c h n o l o g y E d u c a t i o n
Volume 66 • Number 4
Reality Into Technology
Special Needs and the Need for Fun
Helping Teachers Turn Today’s Students
I N T O
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DECEMBER/JANUARY 2007 • VOL. 66 • NO. 4
Integrating Virtual Reality
Into Technology Education
Discusses the hardware, software,
resources, and concepts needed to
integrate VR into a classroom with a
minimal investment of resources.
Sylvia Tiala, DTE
In the News
You & ITEA
A Model for the Integration of Science, Technology, Engineering,
The authors suggest cohorts of teachers from all academic areas, including technology
education, work together to provide a comprehensive integrated curriculum, with technology
leading the process and content.
Aaron C. Clark and Jeremy V. Ernst
Special Needs and the Need for Fun
An Indiana technology teacher shares his successes in tailoring a class to special needs
Ronald D. Yuill, DTE
Publisher, Kendall N. Starkweather, DTE
Editor-In-Chief, Kathleen B. de la Paz
Editor, Kathie F. Cluff
ITEA Board of Directors
Ken Starkman, President
Ethan Lipton, DTE, Past President
Andy Stephenson, DTE, President-Elect
Ed Denton, DTE, Director, ITEA-CS
John Singer, Director, Region I
Lauren Withers Olson, Director, Region II
Julie Moore, Director, Region III
Richard (Rick) Rios, Director, Region IV
Rodney Custer, DTE, Director, CTTE
Joe Busby, DTE, Director, TECA
Vincent Childress, Director, TECC
Kendall N. Starkweather, DTE, CAE,
ITEA is an affiliate of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science.
The Technology Teacher, ISSN: 0746-3537,
is published eight times a year (September
through June with combined December/January
and May/June issues) by the International
Technology Education Association, 1914
Association Drive, Suite 201, Reston, VA
20191. Subscriptions are included in
member dues. U.S. Library and nonmember
subscriptions are $80; $90 outside the U.S.
Single copies are $8.50 for members; $9.50
for nonmembers, plus shipping—domestic
@ $5.00 and outside the U.S. @ $11.00
World Wide Web: www.iteaconnect.org
ITEA Publications Department
All subscription claims must be made within 60
days of the first day of the month appearing on
the cover of the journal. For combined issues,
claims will be honored within 60 days from
the first day of the last month on the cover.
Because of repeated delivery problems outside
the continental United States, journals will
be shipped only at the customer’s risk. ITEA
will ship the subscription copy but assumes
no responsibility thereafter. The Technology
Teacher is listed in the Educational Index and
the Current Index to Journal in Education.
Volumes are available on Microfiche from
University Microfilm, P.O. Box 1346,
Ann Arbor, MI 48106.
Change of Address
Send change of address notification promptly.
Provide old mailing label and new address.
Include zip + 4 code. Allow six weeks for
Send address change to: The Technology
Teacher, Address Change, ITEA, 1914
Association Drive, Suite 201, Reston, VA
20191-1539. Periodicals postage paid at
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PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER
Now Available on the
Did you know that the ideas, activities, worksheets, and presentations
shared by the teachers on the IdeaGarden listserv are archived on the
ITEA website for all ITEA members to use? This is just one of the practical
benefits found in “Members Only.” Other resources found in Members
• The Technology Teacher Archives
T h e V o i c e o f T e c h n o l o g y E d u c a t i o n
Editorial Review Board
California University of PA
Nikolay Middle School, WI
Bayside Middle School, VA
MI Department of Education
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Carver Magnet HS, TX
Midvale Middle School, UT
Eastern Michigan University
Salisbury Middle School, PA
IN Department of Education
Appalachian State Univ.
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California University of PA
South Fayette MS, PA
SUNY at Oswego
Valley City State University
Black Hills State University
Mary Annette Rose
Ball State University
Oasis Elementary School, AZ
Nat’l Center for Tech Literacy
Appalachian State University
Greg Vander Weil
Wayne State College
Des Plaines, IL
North Carolina State Univ.
As the only national and international association dedicated
solely to the development and improvement of technology
education, ITEA seeks to provide an open forum for the free
exchange of relevant ideas relating to technology education.
Materials appearing in the journal, including
advertising, are expressions of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the official policy or the opinion of the
association, its officers, or the ITEA Headquarters staff.
• TrendScout Archives
• TIDE Watcher and IdeaGarden Listserv Information
• ITEA Governance Information
• Insurance Programs and Other Discounted Member Services
• Career/Professional Recognition Information
Let your membership work for you. Check it out at
All professional articles in The Technology Teacher are
refereed, with the exception of selected association
activities and reports, and invited articles. Refereed articles
are reviewed and approved by the Editorial Board before
publication in The Technology Teacher. Articles with bylines
will be identified as either refereed or invited unless written
by ITEA officers on association activities or policies.
To Submit Articles
All articles should be sent directly to the Editor-in-Chief,
International Technology Education Association, 1914
Association Drive, Suite 201, Reston, VA 20191-1539.
Please submit articles and photographs via email
to firstname.lastname@example.org. Maximum length for
manuscripts is eight pages. Manuscripts should be prepared
following the style specified in the Publications Manual of
the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition.
Editorial guidelines and review policies are available by
writing directly to ITEA or by visiting www.iteaconnect.org/
Publications/Submissionguidelines.htm. Contents copyright
© 2006 by the International Technology Education
Association, Inc., 703-860-2100.
• The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
In the News & Calendar
Join ITEA in San Antonio!
Mark your calendar now for the one event you must attend
in the new year. ITEA’s 69 th Annual Conference in San
Antonio—March 15-17, 2007—promises to be one of the
best ever. Special preregistration pricing is available until
February 10, 2007, and special room rates are available at
the conference hotels until February 16, 2007. The latest
conference information is available at www.iteaconnect.org/
Conference/conferenceguide.htm. In addition, the complete
Preliminary Program is located in the center section of this
issue of TTT.
Educator Fellowship Act. The Triangle Coalition administers
the program under the direction of the Department
of Energy. The application deadline is January 8, 2007.
Apply online at https://applicationlink.labworks.org/
applicationlink/default.htm. For more information about
the Einstein Fellows program, visit www.trianglecoalition.
org/ein.htm or contact Andrea Bodmann at bodmanna@
“I See Ice” Viewer
Water is very abundant in the solar system. However, it is
usually in a frozen state. From Mercury, the planet closest
to the Sun, out to the Kuiper Belt, source of many comets,
and beyond, scientists see evidence for ice, and maybe even
liquid water. A new “I See Ice” activity on NASA’s Space
Place website explains why we are interested in all this ice
and shows detailed and interactive images of all the places
ice has been found so far. Go to http://spaceplace.nasa.
gov/en/kids/ice/, or for the Spanish language version, go to
Apply Now For the 2007-08 Albert Einstein
Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program
Attention K-12 teachers: Are you an experienced educator
who is ready to make a difference on a national scale? If
so, consider applying for an Albert Einstein Distinguished
Educator Fellowship and prepare for a year of unique
opportunities. As an Einstein Fellow you will spend a school
year in Washington, DC, sharing your expertise with policy
makers. You may serve your Fellowship with Congress or
one of several government agencies such as the Department
of Energy, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the
National Institutes of Health, the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, or the National Institute of
Standards and Technology.
The goal of the Einstein Fellows program is to provide
an opportunity for teachers to inform national policy
and improve communication between the K-12 STEM
education community and national leaders. Selection
is based on excellence in K-12 mathematics, science,
or technology teaching; demonstrated leadership; an
understanding of national, state, and local education policy;
and communication and interpersonal skills. The Fellowship
program was created in 1990 with support from the
MacArthur Foundation. Congress formalized the program
in 1994 by passing the Albert Einstein Distinguished
Introducing Engineering the Kid-Friendly Way
A new book of interest to technology educators, Those
Amazing Engineers, is an engaging, colorful, fun-to-read
introduction to engineering. Ideal for teachers interested
in making kids aware of what engineers do, this new book
is chock full of fascinating examples geared to readers
aged 8-12. From robots to rockets, from supercomputers
to shampoo, the book shows how engineers make a big
difference in our lives.
Those Amazing Engineers covers engineers from aerospace
to software and features sections on “How Do I Get There
From Here?” and “When Can I Start?” that offer practical
suggestions on individual or classroom activities that are
stepping-stones to an engineering career. Highlights also
include “Engineering Hall of Fame, A Kid’s Eye View” with
kid-friendly examples such as the Slinky® and the Ferris
wheel; and “Engineering SuperCity Stadium,” featuring all
the types of engineers it takes to bring a baseball stadium
Author Charlotte Forbes, an O. Henry Award-winning
writer, skillfully keeps the text lively and informative for
the 8-12-year-old target audience, although older children
and even adults can enjoy the book as well. BookWire
praises the book as “a fun and accessible introduction to
• The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
the engineering field,” and teachers report an enthusiastic
response from kids. The 30-page, softcover book is available
through Amazon.com or directly from the publisher, Trilogy
Publications (www.trilogypublications.com). The cover price
is $10.95 per copy, but significant discounts are available
from the publisher for bulk purchases.
Healthy Growth Expected for Most STEM
Occupations Through 2014
Information technology is expected to continue to
be the leading growth sector within the science and
technology specialties through 2014. Most other scientific,
technological, engineering, and mathematical (STEM)
occupations are expected to grow moderately, at rates
similar to those for the entire U.S. labor force, according
to a recent report by the Commission on Professionals in
Science and Technology (CPST). The report, part of the
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation-funded STEM Workforce Data
Project, is based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
(BLS). It includes estimated 2004 and projected 2014
employment data for over 100 STEM occupations or broad
sets of occupations. Other STEM occupations with strong
growth rates include forensic science technicians, medical
scientists and epidemiologists, hydrologists, biomedical
engineers, environmental engineers, environmental
engineering technicians, actuaries, and market and survey
researchers. In terms of the absolute numbers of new
jobs, IT occupations will post the most significant gains.
Computer specialists are expected to generate nearly
957,000 new jobs during the decade. In all, IT workers and
managers account for more than five percent of the total
job growth projected by BLS for the U.S. between 2004 and
2014. A number of STEM occupations are projected to fall
short of the overall anticipated U.S. employment growth
rate of 13 percent over the ten-year projection period, but
none are projected to lose large numbers of jobs. Scientific
and technical professionals can be found in every broad
employment market in the U.S. economy, including goods
distribution sectors such as wholesale trade, retail trade,
and transportation and warehousing. The report provides
employment data by STEM occupation and 31 employer
categories for 2004, and the accompanying data archive
includes projections for 2014 by industry and STEM
occupation. The full report is available at www.cpst.org/
Source: Triangle Coalition Electronic Bulletin, September 28, 2006,
Volume 12, Number 37.
February 22-February 24, 2007 The Virginia Children’s
Engineering Council (VCEC) will hold its 11th Annual
Children’s Engineering Convention at the Crowne
Plaza Richmond West, in Richmond, Virginia. Dr. Billy
Cannaday, Jr., Superintendent of Public Instruction for the
Commonwealth of Virginia, will be the keynote speaker
on Friday, February 23, 2007. Please contact Mary Hurst,
Program Chair, at email@example.com; Donna Smith, VCEC
President, at 804-403-3592 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or
Janis Churchill, VCEC President-Elect, at 540-271-1531 or
email@example.com for additional information.
The general registration form and convention information
may also be accessed at: www.vtea.org/ESTE/convention/.
March 8-9, 2007 The Indiana Association for the
Gifted/Indiana Department of Education will hold its 2007
conference at the Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel North, 8787
Keystone Crossing, Indianapolis, IN. The theme of the 2007
conference is “Aiming for Excellence.” Visit www.doe.state.
in.us/exceptional/gt for details.
March 15-17, 2007 The 69th Annual ITEA Conference
and Exhibition, “Technological Literacy: A Global
Challenge,” will be held at the Henry B. Gonzalez
Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. Now the eighth
largest city in the U.S., San Antonio has always been a
crossroads and a meeting place. An historic city on the
famed Riverwalk, the warmth you feel is not just from the
sunny climate, but from the hearts of its residents. Proud of
their city and heritage, they are always ready with the special
brand of hospitality for which Texas is so famous. Come feel
the excitement and join the fun! Visit www.iteaconnect.org/
Conference/conferenceguide.htm for the latest information.
March 15-17, 2007 The PATT-17: Pupils’ Attitudes
Towards Technology, International Design and Technology
Education Conference, “Research on Technological Literacy
in Theory and Practice” and the 2007 ICTE Conference
(Asia Pacific Region) will take place concurrently with the
ITEA Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX. Information
on the PATT-17 Conference and the ICTE Conference
can be found at www.iteaconnect.org/Conference/
• The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
March 29-30, 2007 The 38th Annual Wisconsin
Technology Education Association Spring Conference
will be held at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells
and will feature a convention and trade show. This year’s
theme is “Technology & Engineering: Forging A New
Future.” Keynote speakers will be Mark Lee (former NASA
astronaut) and Dr. James Bensen, President Emeritus,
Bemidji State University. For more information visit www.
April 6, 2007 The Annual USM/
TEAM Spring Conference will take
place at the John Mitchell Center,
University of Southern Maine, Gorham
Campus. Contact this year’s organizers,
Dr. Robert Nannay at nannay@usm.
maine.edu or Mark Dissell at mdissell@
fps.k12.me.us, for information.
June 21-27, 2007 The PATT-18:
Pupils’ Attitudes Towards Technology,
International Design and Technology
Education Conference, “Teaching and
Learning Technological Literacy in the
Classroom,” will be held in Glasgow,
Scotland. For further information
about the conference or presentation
opportunities, contact the Conference
Director, John Dakers at jdakers@
educ.gla.ac.uk. Completed papers
(2,500–3,000 words) must be emailed
to the above address no later than the
November 30, 2006.
June 24-28, 2007 The 29 th Annual
National TSA Conference, TSA,
Breaking Down the Boundaries, will be
held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and
Convention Center in Nashville, TN.
The conference will feature high school
and middle school competitive events, a
one-day Education Fair, and the DuPont
Leadership Academy. Visit www.
for complete information. Or contact
Donna Andrews, TSA Conference
Manager, Technology Student
Association at 703/860-9000 (ex. 15) or
List your State/Province Association
Conference in TTT and TrendScout
(ITEA’s electronic newsletter). Submit
conference title, date(s), location,
and contact information (at least two
months prior to journal publication
date) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
You & ITEA
to 1965, and at The Ohio State University from 1965 until
his retirement in 1984, where he was Professor and Chair of
Industrial Technology and Education for 21 years.
One of the twentieth century technology education leaders
who initiated and created innovative curriculum that helped
to transform industrial arts into technology education,
Donald Gregory Lux, born February 21, 1924, died on
September 27, 2006.
He left his childhood town of Claremont, Minnesota to join
the Navy in 1943 where he served honorably in the Pacific
Theater of WWII. After the war, he remained in the Naval
Reserves for 30 years, retiring with the rank of Captain.
Don married Harriet “Pete” Harmer in 1945. They have two
sons, Michael and Gregory, a daughter, Kathleen, and four
He earned his Bachelors (1949) and Masters (1952) at the
University of Wisconsin-Stout and Doctorate (1955) at The
Ohio State University. He taught industrial arts in Louisville,
Kentucky from 1949 to 1952, at The Ohio State University
from 1952 to 1954, at the University of Illinois from 1954
During the course of his professional career he was the
major advisor for 45 doctoral students, published over 30
articles in ten journals (including The Technology Teacher
and its predecessors), served in administrative capacities
such as department chair and assistant dean, served
as a consultant, received many national honors for his
outstanding contributions to his profession, and worked
with the largest federal grant at the time, The Industrial Arts
Curriculum Project, to reform industrial arts curriculum.
As a result of his curriculum work and grant funding, he
was the coauthor of World of Construction and World of
Manufacturing, middle school textbooks that introduced
to technology educators the reorganization of the subject
matter into manufacturing and construction. He was a
consultant on international projects in India, Iran, and
South Korea and served as a visiting professor at Chungnam
University in South Korea and Colorado State University.
He held both the Epsilon Pi Tau Laureate and Distinguished
Service citations, is a Fellow of the Academy of Technology
Education, a Distinguished Graduate of the University
of Wisconsin-Stout, and a member of The Ohio State
University College of Education Hall of Fame.
Don Lux should be remembered by technology educators
as one of a powerful group of technology education leaders
who, beginning in the 1950s, initiated the transformation
of industrial arts into technology education through
their spirited debate, which led to creating and testing
“innovative” curriculum in the schools, and by publicizing
the results of their curriculum development and research.
• The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
ITEA and NASA Team
Up Again To Advance
As an extension of the Human
Project, ITEA is working
with NASA to develop
educational Design Challenges
to coordinate with Space Shuttle
Endeavour’s STS-118 mission.
This shuttle flight is scheduled
for June 2007 and will deliver a
payload to the International Space
Station. The six-person crew will
include Barbara Morgan. Ms.
Morgan is an ITEA member who
was selected by NASA in January 1998 as the first Educator
Astronaut. An Educator Astronaut is fully qualified as an
astronaut and also brings to bear his or her expertise in
K-12 education. Ms. Morgan and NASA are dedicated to
inspiring the next generation of explorers and finding ways
to connect space exploration with K-12 classrooms. The
Design Challenges will be developed for elementary, middle,
and high school students and will focus on greenhouse
design in space. They
will be offered both
as a design-and-build
challenge and as a
A second Phase will
coordinate with the
Design Challenge to offer
a science experiment
on the growing of
seeds. Watch for more
information as this
A Model for Career
While the philosophical foundation of Standards
for Technological Literacy is that all students
need to study technology, the focus of the EbD
model program is on the practical implementation
of the standards. An important aspect of that practical
implementation is serving as a model for developing themes
in the STEM and IT Clusters. EbD delivers this, and so
much more. The courses in the program create awareness
and competence over time as they build on learned
knowledge and skills. In the Pathway Program, schools
adopt the articulated sequence of courses in a STEM and/
or IT-themed academy. The EbD components can also
be modularized and adapted to ensure that career themes
are aligned with Cluster Knowledge and Skills. In these
ways, EbD provides authentic learning to students who
are looking toward future careers in technology as well as
those students who are uncertain about their future plans.
In fact, EbD provides a valuable basis for any future career,
and may encourage some students to consider careers in
technology. The offerings of EbD are many and varied, and
are indisputably based on standards. To find out more about
the implications EbD holds for your program, contact
Barry Burke, ITEA-CATTS Director, at (301) 482-1929 or
via email at email@example.com
A previous space launch.
• The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
Design Brief: Engineering DNA
By Lisa Goel
This activity integrates technology
(genetic, manufacturing, material,
mechanical, and biomedical
engineering) art, and science, for
students in Grades K to 12.
What is DNA? What is its purpose? DNA (deoxyribonucleic
acid) is the basic unit of our physical and genetic makeup.
It houses information expressed through our physical
attributes, such as the color of our eyes, hair, skin, our
height, etc. The design challenge presented here is to
engineer DNA. In order to do this, students must first
understand the basics of DNA. (Figure 1.) DNA is made up
of two strands (refer to Figure 1) that are attached by base
pairs. The structure of DNA looks like a spiral or coiled
ladder. There are four bases: adenine (A), guanine (G),
cytosine (C), and thymine (T). Amongst these base pairs,
adenine (A) bonds to thymine (T), and guanine (G) bonds
to cytosine (C). The bonding character between AT and GC
differs in that A and T bonding consists of two long bonds
and G and C has three shorter bonds.
Figure 1: DNA structure. AT has two bonds and GC has three
The goal of this activity is to reconstruct DNA by
investigating its structure and components. Students will
be able to appreciate our genetic building blocks. Students
will design, construct, and test various DNA structures.
Using the engineering design process, students will be
able to awaken their creativity and design ability towards
understanding the genetic makeup of human beings.
The engineering challenge here is to design, create, and test
engineered DNA. Students should focus their efforts and
• The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
creativity towards understanding the interactions between
the bond strengths, the coiling of the DNA, and the different
base pair matchups of the DNA. Students will have to
utilize their creativity, critical thinking, problem solving,
and analytical skills when designing and constructing their
own DNA. It is recommended that students do this activity
Students should be encouraged to bring household items
for constructing their DNA. Necessary items are as follows:
wire-based materials that have the ability to bend and
fold easily (pipe cleaners, wire hangers, copper wire, etc),
glue, tape, Velcro, string, scissors—virtually anything that
has adhesive or sticky properties. The adhesive material
will serve as bonds. For constructing the base pairs,
students should use their creativity and pick materials that
are distinguishable in four different ways. For example,
construction paper of four different colors, or different types
of fabrics, rubber, and cardboard. Each student will need a
cylindrical rod, no smaller than 0.5 inches in diameter.
pairs with two bonds. As with any engineering sketch, it is
important to label each area and list what materials will be
needed for constructing their DNA.
The next step is the construction of the DNA. Using
Figure 1 as a guideline as to how DNA should look, students
should begin construction. First, create the backbone of the
DNA by using pipe cleaners or wire. Then students should
pick out what type of fabric, cardboard, or paper they want
to use to represent their base pairs. There are four base pairs
as mentioned earlier: ATGC. The fabric of choice should
be cut into four distinct shapes to represent each base pair.
Finally, an adhesive should be decided upon with which
to attach the base pairs; this will represent the bonds. For
instance, students may choose yarn to represent the bonds.
Using their sketches and materials, students should engineer
multiple DNA strands with different base pairings. It is
important to note that AT has two bonds and GC has three
bonds (i.e., AT will be attached by three pieces of yarn, and
GC will be attached by two pieces of yarn). Once the DNA
has been created, students should test each DNA.
To test the DNA, students first coil their DNA around a
cylindrical rod. Then students should hold the DNA—one
end in each hand—and slowly pull the DNA strands apart
from one another. While pulling the two DNA strands apart,
students should note their observations.
Some sample household
Teachers should begin the design challenge with an open
discussion with students by introducing DNA to the class.
Describe the basic characteristics of DNA. Teachers should
encourage students to question the properties of DNA
and the role it plays in our lives. Once the foundation of
DNA has been laid out, students should begin their design
challenge: to engineer their own DNA. The first step is to
sketch the types of DNA that they would like to engineer.
Students should focus on making three types of DNA, one
that is very strong, one that is very weak, and one that is a
mix of strong and weak. When designing the DNA, students
should keep in mind what properties would make the DNA
strong and weak. Students should be able to recognize
that base pairs with three bonds are stronger than base
Analysis and Redesign
Students should be encouraged to answer questions such
as: How long did it take to pull the DNA apart? Was it hard
to pull the two strands apart? If it was not hard, what could
be done to make it stronger? How could they improve their
design to make it stronger or weaker? Teachers should guide
students to think critically about their designs through these
types of questions.
Students should present their DNA and observations to
the class. Teachers should end the activity by asking more
questions about what students have learned. This will
provide a nice wrap-up to the activity.
Lisa Goel, MS in Biomedical Engineering,
is currently working on the Technology
Operations and Business Innovation team at a
nano-medical diagnostic company, Nanobiosym,
Inc. She can be reached via email at lisagoel@
• The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
Integrating Virtual Reality Into
Technology Education Labs
By Sylvia Tiala, DTE
(Permission granted: Randy Pausch)
Virtual reality provides a
means to deliver standardsbased
curriculum to today’s
technologically savvy students.
Figure.1. Carnegie Mellon University’s Alice interface downloaded
Desktop Virtual Reality (Ausburn & Ausburn, 2004)
is an instructional tool that can be used to deliver
standards-based instruction (International Technology
Education Association, 2000/2002) while tapping
students’ interests. Although there are no plug-and-play
virtual-reality (VR) solutions currently available to the K-12
teacher, there are easy ways to teach concepts employing
VR (interactive, three-dimensional, stereographic computer
images). Experimenting with hardware and software can be
time-consuming for the K-12 teacher. This article discusses
the hardware, software, resources, and concepts needed to
integrate VR into a classroom with a minimal investment of
Today’s students are technologically savvy. They use
computers to play video games, post web pages, publish
weblogs, and chat online. Seventy percent of children in
the U.S. between ages 3 and 17 have access to computers
(Child Trends 2003; DeBell and Chapman, 2003). Seventy
percent of today’s college students play video games (Riegle,
2004). The technologies used to produce video games are
closely associated with desktop virtual reality (Ausburn
& Ausburn, 2004). Computer-assisted drafting programs
(CAD) and graphics programs are used to generate
and animate three-dimensional (3D) computer models.
Technologies used to create three-dimensional models for
video games are also used to create virtual-reality models.
Video gaming enthusiasts don helmets or goggles that
have small computer monitors mounted in them. Similar
head-mounted displays (HMDs) are used in virtual-reality
activities. Input devices, such as mice, triggers, or thumb
sticks, allow gamers to interact with a video game. These
input devices can also be used in VR. Virtual-reality
technologies tap students’ motivation to use computers
while delivering standards-based curriculum.
• The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
Virtual reality, HMDs, and trackers can be easily and
inexpensively integrated into the technology education
laboratory to address ITEA’s Standards for Technological
Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (STL)
(2000/2002). Virtual reality, like video games, integrates
software and hardware residing on a local computer or
network into a communication system. Studying this
communication system directly addresses students’
understanding of “The Nature of Technology” (STL
Standards 1, 2, and 3). Students generating 3D computer
models (STL Standard 11) used in virtual reality come
to understand the design process (STL Standards 8
and 9) while using, troubleshooting, and maintaining
a technological system (STL Standard 11). Exposure to
desktop virtual reality introduces students to technologies
used in movie animation, electronic gaming (Novak,
2005), chemistry (Illman, 1994), surgery, flight simulation
(Shulman, 1999), marketing, engineering, military training,
and robotics (Briggs, 1996; Wong & Wong, 1996). “The role
of society in the development and use of technology” (STL
Standard 6) can be explored within the context of these
Desktop Virtual Reality System Setup
Software applications drive the selection of computer
hardware and the associated peripherals in any VR system.
Alice, a freeware computer program from Carnegie-Mellon
University, available for download from www.alice.org, may
be used as the starting point for desktop VR. Alice integrates
into graphics and web-design classrooms easily since
computer workstations running modern CAD and graphics
packages will easily run Alice. Alice’s interface, shown
in Figure 1, is used as the starting point for a first-time
introduction to virtual reality for the following reasons:
• Three-dimensional objects are built and ready for
• Alice is free from Carnegie-Mellon University and is
• Programming skills needed to implement higher-level
VR systems are introduced while students create their
own animated environments.
• Components of Alice have cross-curricular ties to
math (moving objects along three-axis or absolute
versus relative coordinate systems), science
(reflectivity or opaqueness of objects and sound
wave frequencies) and language (learning a computer
• Alice is easy to download and use with directions from
the Alice website. Built-in tutorials and a beta version
of Dann, Cooper, and Pausch’s (2005) instructional
text, Learning to Program with Alice (www.alice.org),
provide additional support.
• Results of programming can be seen immediately.
Experience shows that students can animate single
characters proficiently after five hours of practice. Many
students will be able to develop interactive animations that
integrate head-mounted displays by the end of a twelveweek
semester. Multi-character, three-minute interactive
animations are easily accomplished.
Figure 2. Head-mounted display.
Sound effects add another dimension to animations and can
be added directly to an Alice environment after plugging
in an external microphone. Science concepts relating to
sound waves and careers in sound production applicable
to movie production, animation, and audio recording can
be addressed while creating Alice worlds. Figure 1 shows a
rabbit, a frog, and a beach chair. In this animation the frog
jumps out from under the chair and hops toward the lake. A
sponge repeatedly dipped into a pail of water was used for
the sound effect of a frog jumping. Students can experiment
with recording, echoing, speed, and volume of sound to get
the desired effects.
An HMD, like that shown in Figure 2 (iO Display Systems’
i-glasses PC), projects a VR world in front of a person’s
eyes and is needed for stereo imaging in a desktop VR
system (www.i-glassesstore.com; www.stereographics.com).
Images appear three-dimensional by projecting slightly
different views of the same object into the left and right
eye (StereoGraphics Corporation, 1997; Bungert, 1998).
Source: Sylvia Tiala
10 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
3D Computer Graphic
2D Computer Graphic
Figure 3. Three-dimensional objects versus two-dimensional objects.
Care should be taken when selecting an HMD, as people
can experience nausea, fatigue, and dizziness if the HMD’s
resolution and refresh rates are too low. StereoGraphics
Corporation (1997), General Reality Company (n.d.a; n.d.
b), Bungert (1998), or other experts should be consulted
for technical considerations inherent in choosing a viewing
Stereo images and three-dimensional (3D) graphics are both
required for VR applications. It is important to understand
the difference between 3D graphics and stereo graphics, as
some software/hardware vendors interchange these terms.
Three-dimensional objects, like those shown in Figure
3, have width, height, and depth, while two-dimensional
objects have only width and height. Three-dimensional
objects are critical components for desktop VR worlds.
Many computer-aided-drafting packages (CAD) and
modeling/animation packages generate 3D objects and
virtual worlds that a user can move through. The viewer is
able to see the front, back, top, sides, and bottom of objects
and their respective positions within a world.
Stereoscopic views are created when software and hardware
split lines or pixels of a computer image into left and
right images and send these to a display screen or HMD.
Stereo graphic cards in conjunction with HMDs and CAD/
illustration software capable of generating stereo images
(alternating left and right views) are used to import stereo
images into a desktop VR. Although current versions of
Alice do not support stereo imaging, connecting an HMD to
a computer is useful for conveying concepts related to stereo
imaging and hardware/software interfacing.
Tracking devices like that shown in Figure 4, add an element
of interactivity to a computer-generated world. Trackers
connected to HMDs send signals to a receiver. The receiver
sends positioning information to the computer and adjusts
the user’s view depending on where the head is located and
how it is positioned in a virtual reality. There are several
things to consider when selecting tracking devices. Cost
is the major factor, as trackers range in price from several
hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Degreesof-freedom
refers to what types of motion a tracker will
register. Pitch, roll, and yaw and placement along the x,
y, and z coordinates are measured with a six-degree-of-
Figure 4. Tracking device.
Source: Sylvia Tiala
11 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
freedom tracker that places the viewer inside a world
indicating head position and orientation. Since many lowend
trackers are limited to ten feet or less of motion, range
of operation should also be considered.
Integrating trackers into a desktop VR system provides
an opportunity to teach students about relative, absolute,
and polar coordinate systems and calibrating scientific
instruments for accurate readings. Maui Innovative
Peripheral’s Cymouse, shown in Figure 5, is an inexpensive,
six-degree-of-freedom tracker that is easily integrated with
Alice, using mouse emulation. Some modification may be
needed to affix the tracker securely onto a computer yet
allow for removal and safekeeping. Tracker range is limited
to several feet due to cord lengths and tracker/receiver
sensitivity. Integrating this hardware into the VR system
allows students to see how the 3D software, peripheral
hardware, and programming skills combine to produce an
interactive computer-generated world.
Figure 5. Cymouse tracker with receiver.
Students can be assessed under the three broad categories
of 1) memorization, 2) application, and 3) synthesis.
Memorization involves remembering in which menu,
window, and object elements reside within the Alice
program. Written worksheets, teacher observation, and
informal questioning can be used to assess students’ abilities
to identify objects residing in the local Alice gallery or to
choose specific regions of the Alice interface. This lowest
level of assessment is applied as students follow written and
verbal directions while learning a new computer application.
Application can be measured using informal questioning
techniques, rubrics, and Alice projects. Consulting with
math and science instructors may help make student
Source: Sylvia Tiala
assessments more rigorous across the curriculum. Students
should be able to apply basic math and science concepts
related to coordinate systems and animation to their Alice
worlds. Exercises and projects are included in Learning to
Program with Alice (Dann, Cooper & Pausch, 2005) or can
originate with students and teachers. Students should be
able to create storyboards, orient and move objects, and add
sound to their projects. Advanced students should be able
to use programming questions and control statements, add
camera and animation controls, create visible and invisible
objects, and use random motion events in their worlds.
Summative and formative assessment strategies are used
to assess students’ synthesis of Alice concepts. Rubrics
and presentations can be used to evaluate students’ final
projects. Rubrics assessing students’ abilities to work as a
team and communicate with peers can be added if team
projects are utilized. Projects might include developing
animations to show centrifugal force, developing
advertisements for a favorite book, or creating a video
game to help children learn colors. Advanced students are
encouraged to set up individual learning plans directed at
their post-secondary career ambitions. Students interested
in engineering may be encouraged to design new mounts
for trackers on HMDs, explore video cards, or connect and
troubleshoot input devices. Students interested in game
design and animation are encouraged to look at higher level
animation and programming languages as they design,
animate, import, and export 3D graphics. Assessment may
include design notebooks, daily logs, interviews, portfolios,
competition entries, and presentations.
Implementing Desktop VR
Integrating virtual reality into technology education
instruction is an exciting educational prospect. Technologies
associated with VR can be used to create engaging lessons.
Computer games and virtual worlds designed with Alice
can be used to implement the International Technology
Education Association’s Standards for Technological
Literacy. Scientific and mathematical concepts utilized
with virtual-reality technologies enable teachers to
provide cross-curricular connections. Students learn from
hands-on experience and in non-traditional classroom
contexts as called for by the American Association for the
Advancement of Science (1993) and the National Council
of Teachers of Mathematics (2000-2004). Virtual reality
provides a means to deliver standards-based curriculum to
today’s technologically savvy students. Studying VR may
motivate students to gain a deeper understanding of the
communication systems they routinely use.
12 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
American Association for the Advancement of Science.
(1993). Benchmarks for science literacy: Project 2061. New
York: Oxford University Press.
Ausburn, L. J. & Ausburn F. B. (Winter, 2004). Desktop
virtual reality: A powerful new technology for teaching
and research in industrial teacher education. Journal of
Industrial Teacher Education, 41(4). Retrieved June 23,
2004 from http://scholar.lib.t.edu/ejournals/JITE/v41n4/
Bungert, C. (1998). Basics/quick info: All at once—stereo-3D
in a nutshell. Retrieved July 14, 2004 from www.stereo3d.
Briggs, J. C. (1996). The promise of virtual reality. The
Futurist 30, September 1, 1996. Retrieved September 13,
2003 from http://project.cyberpunk.ru/idb/virtualreality_
Carnegie Mellon University. (2004). Alice (Version 2.0b)
[Computer Software]. Retrieved August 19, 2004 from
Child Trends. (2003). Home computer access and
internet use. Retrieved September 13, 2005
Dann, W., Cooper, S., & Pausch, R. (2005). Learning to
program with Alice. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey:
DeBell, M. & Chapman, C. (2003). Computer and internet
use by children and adolescents in 2001 (NCES
2004-014). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of
Education, National Center for Education Statistics.
Retrieved September 13, 2005 from http://nces.ed.gov/
General Reality Company. (n.d.a). Choosing an HMD.
Retrieved July 14, 2004 from www.genreality.com/
General Reality Company. (n.d.b). Head-mounted displays.
Retrieved July 14, 2004 from www.genreality.com/
Illman, D. (1994, March 21). Researchers make progress
in applying virtual reality to chemistry. Chemical &
Engineering News, 72, 22-25.
International Technology Education Association.
(2000/2002). Standards for technological literacy: Content
for the study of technology. Reston, Virginia: Author.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2000/2004).
Principles and standards for school mathematics:
Executive summary [online]. Available: http://standards.
Novak, J. (2005). Game development essentials: An introduction.
Clifton Park, NY: Thompson, Delmar Learning.
Riegle, R. (2004). Video games & online learning: The future
of teacher education. Address delivered at the Video
Games and Learning Major Forum, AACTE 56 th Annual
Meetings and Exhibits. Retrieved April 14, 2004 from
Shulman, S. (1999, March). Virtual reality goes to school.
Computer Graphics World, 22(3), 39-44.
StereoGraphics Corporation. (1997). Stereographics
Developers’ Handbook. Retrieved July 14, 2004 from
Wong & Wong. (1996).Virtual reality in space exploration.
Retrieved July 14, 2004 from www.doc.ic.ac.uk~nd/
This is a refereed article.
Sylvia Tiala, DTE, recently completed her Ph.D.
at Iowa State University and is currently the
department chair of the Industrial Technology
Department at Boone High School in Boone, IA.
She can be reached via email at stiala@copper.
13 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
Resources in Technology
A Runaway Train?
By Stephen L. Baird
…the human species has reshaped
Earth’s landscapes on an ever-larger
and lasting scale.
Photo courtesy of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.
Sea ice regulates exchanges of heat, moisture, and salinity in the polar
ocean and provides key habitat for wildlife. A loss of sea ice leaves coasts
more vulnerable to storm surges and erosion.
Our rich diversity of life on Earth is the outcome of
over three billion years of evolutionary history.
It has been shaped by forces such as continental
drift, ice ages, fire, weather, and the interaction
of all the different species that inhabit the earth. Now, it
is increasingly being altered by the dominant species of
the planet, humans. From the dawn of agriculture over
10,000 years ago, through the industrial revolution of
the past three centuries, the human species has reshaped
Earth’s landscapes on an ever-larger and lasting scale.
Despite growing awareness and increasing investments in
environmental protection, pressure on the world’s natural
resources and ecosystems continues to increase rapidly. The
impacts of human activities envelop every aspect of the
natural world. No ecosystem on Earth is free from pervasive
human influence (World, 2006). Global warming, pollution,
and the unabated use of the Earth’s natural resources have
given rise to questions of our planet’s continued ability
to sustain us. Global atmospheric changes, such as ozone
depletion and climate change, only add to the stress. Global
warming poses an extraordinary challenge. The world’s
leading scientists tell us that a gradual warming of our
climate is under way and will continue. This long-term
warming trend poses serious risk to the world’s economy
14 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
and to the environment. It poses even greater risks for
poorer countries that are far less able to cope with a
changing climate and for low-lying countries where a rise
in sea level will cause significant damage. Meeting the
challenges of global warming will require sustained effort
over decades—on the part of governments, that must
establish regulations and modify them as we learn more
about climate change and as technological solutions begin
to manifest themselves; on the part of industry, which must
innovate, manufacture, and operate under a new paradigm
where climate change will drive many decisions; and on
the part of the citizens of the world, who must not only be
educated on the effects of climate change but who must
also switch to a more Earth-friendly path in purchases and
lifestyles. While the earth has always undergone changes in
its climate and environment, the potential importance of
human contributions affecting changes on a global scale has
emerged comparatively recently. Global public opinion, like
American public opinion, has been most recently influenced
by the unprecedented drought in Brazil, the melting Arctic
ice, the recent hurricane season, and a torrent of scientific
The Science of Climate Change
Global warming is shorthand for “climate change,” and
the term is correct if you realize that it’s referring to the
average temperature of the earth over the years; not the
temperatures at particular times and places. Climate
change is a much better term to use than global warming
because much more than warming is involved, although
the changes begin with the average temperature of the
earth increasing. Studying past climates can help put the
twentieth century warming into a broader context, lead to
better understanding of the climate system, and improve
projections of future climate temperatures.
Because widespread, reliable instrumental records are
available only for the last 150 years or so, scientists must
estimate climatic conditions in the more distant past by
analyzing proxy evidence from sources such as tree rings,
corals, ocean and lake sediments, cave deposits, ice cores,
boreholes, glaciers, and documentary evidence. Starting in
the late 1990s, scientists began combining proxy evidence
from many different locations around the world in an effort
to construct an estimate of surface temperature changes that
have occurred over broad geographic regions during the
last few hundred to few thousand years. Controversy arose
because many people interpreted this result as definitive
evidence of anthropogenic causes of recent climate change,
while others criticized the methodologies and data that
were used. In response to a request from Congress, a
committee was assembled by the National Research Council
to describe and assess the state of scientific efforts to
reconstruct the surface temperature records for the earth
over approximately the last 2000 years and the implications
of these efforts for our understanding of global climate
change. After considering all of the available evidence, the
committee reached the following conclusions:
• The instrumentally measured warming of about
0.6°C during the twentieth century is also reflected in
borehole temperature measurements, the retreat of
glaciers, and other observational evidence, and can be
simulated with computer climate models.
• Large-scale surface temperature reconstructions yield
a generally consistent picture of temperature trends
during the preceding millennium.
• It can be said with a high level of confidence that the
global mean surface temperature was higher during the
last few decades of the twentieth century than during
any other comparable period during the preceding four
Large-scale surface temperature reconstructions are proving
to be important tools in developing a more complete
understanding of global climate change (Surface, 2006).
Copies of Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last
2,000 Years are available from the National Academies Press,
500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001; (800) 624-
The three warmest years on record have all occurred since
1998; 19 of the warmest 20 since 1980, and the earth has
probably never warmed as fast as in the past 30 years—a
period when natural influences on global temperatures, such
as solar cycles and volcanoes, should have cooled the earth
down. Climate-change scientists (Climatologists) reporting
for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) say that we are seeing global warming
caused by human activities and that there are growing fears
of feedbacks that will accelerate this warming.
In a feedback loop, a change occurs and then amplifies the
original problem; in this situation the rising temperature on
the earth changes the environment in ways that can create
even more heat. Scientists consider feedback loops the
single biggest threat to civilization from global warming.
Past a certain point—the tipping point, they say—there may
be no stopping the changes (Blakemore, 2006). Scientists
working in the Arctic are reporting that feedback loops are
already under way. As the frozen sea surface of the Arctic
15 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
Figure 2. This image shows values of sea surface temperature
from Satellite observations. The reason Europe’s
climate is more moderate than climates in other Northerly
locations lies in the ocean.
Ocean melts, there is less white surface area to reflect the
sun’s heat back into space, leaving the dark, open water to
absorb that heat, which then melts the floating sea ice even
faster. More than a third of summer sea ice has disappeared
over the past 30 years. (Figure 1.) One study published last
year in the journal Science found that of 244 glaciers in
the Antarctic, 87 percent have retreated at unprecedented
and accelerating rates. According to NASA scientists, the
melting of Arctic sea ice is occurring more rapidly than
predicted. The volume of ice melting will lead to changes
in the salinity of the ocean and alterations to the ocean’s
conveyor-belt system (currents) that brings warmer water to
the North Atlantic and moderates the climate of Northern
Europe (Lash, 2006). (Figure 2.)
Map by Robert Simmon, courtesy of NASA.
In the ground next to the Arctic Ocean, scientists say
warming has also awakened another enormous danger—
billions of tons of carbon locked up for eons by what was
once frozen ground. As global warming thaws and dries
out the vast tundra, old, decayed vegetation releases carbon
dioxide, the same greenhouse gas that comes from car and
plane exhausts and power-plant chimneys—and the tundra
releasing carbon dioxide warms the atmosphere even more.
The permafrost issue has caused a quiet buzz among climate
scientists and geologists. Specialists in Arctic climate are
developing research plans to study the permafrost effect,
which is not well understood or easily observed. Climate
scientists studying the release of carbon dioxide into the
atmosphere in the Arctic say that it’s a slow-motion time
bomb that’s speeding up and could become self-generating
(Blakemore, 2006). (Figure 3.) The Arctic offers one of
the most striking examples of the effects envisioned with
climate change. Climate change is expected to be more
extreme in the Polar Regions than anywhere else. The
warming trend is having a significant and negative effect
on polar bears that rely on the sea ice as a platform from
which to hunt seals—and the seals that rely on the sea ice to
give birth to their pups. Villages on the shoreline are also in
jeopardy because the protective sea ice that once acted as a
buffer against storms isn’t as massive or long-lasting—the
weather has been too warm for too long—making the
shoreline vulnerable to erosion at an average of 10 feet a
year (Bowen, 2006). With shifts in the seasons and scarcer,
thinner ice, all of the inhabitants of the Arctic face an
uncertain future. (Figure 4.)
Photos courtesy of NSIDC/WDC for Glaciology,
Boulder, compiler.2002, updated 2006. Online
glacier photograph database.
Figure 3. The photo of Muir Glacier on the left was taken by William O. Field on 13 August 1941, and the photo on the right was taken
by Bruce F. Molina on 31 August 2004. These photos tell a captivating visual story of the changes glaciers are experiencing due to climate
16 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Digital Library.
Figure 4. Polar Bears are dependent on the sea ice for hunting; they wait on ice floes
for seals to come to the surface.
The effects of a changing climate will not be felt equally
across our planet. Regional climate changes will likely
be very different from changes in the global average.
Differences from region to region could be in both the
magnitude and rate of climate change. Furthermore, not
all things, whether they are natural ecosystems or human
settlements, are equally sensitive to changes in climate.
Nations, and regions within nations, vary greatly in their
ability to cope and adapt to a changing climate. Some
nations will likely experience more adverse effects than
others, while some nations may benefit more than others.
Poorer nations generally will be more vulnerable to the
consequences of global warming. These nations tend to
be more dependent on climate-sensitive sectors, such as
subsistence agriculture, and the lack of resources to buffer
themselves against the changes that global warming may
bring. Rising global temperatures are expected to raise
sea level and change precipitation and other local climate
conditions. Changing regional climate could alter forests,
crop yields, and water supplies. It could also affect human
health, animals, and many of our natural ecosystems.
While scientists continue to improve their predictions,
nature has already been showing some signs of the changes
that may be in store. Little doubt remains that these changes
have the power to degrade habitats, disconnect food chains,
and drive plants and animals from their current homes.
Melting glaciers and precipitation are already causing some
rivers to overflow, while evaporation is emptying others.
Diseases are spreading. Some crops are growing faster, while
others see yields slashed by disease and drought. Strong
hurricanes are becoming more frequent and destructive, and
natural ecosystems such as coral reefs are being disrupted
by warmer waters, jeopardizing the survival of reef fish on
which millions of coastal residents depend (Pearce, 2006).
Is There a Solution?
Climate change is a global problem requiring action from
the entire international community. Countries from around
the world are working together to share technologies,
experience, resources, and talent to lower net greenhouse gas
emissions and reduce the threat of global climate change.
At the Earth Summit in 1992, the world agreed to prevent
“dangerous” climate change. The first step was the 1997
Kyoto Protocol. Since the Kyoto Protocol entered into force
in February 2005, much of the international community
has turned its attention to a successor agreement that
builds on, or replaces, the Kyoto Protocol by incorporating
new features that attract the interest of the United States,
Australia, and key developing nations. The world cannot
tackle this critical issue without the involvement of the
United States, Australia, Brazil, China, India, and Indonesia.
The biggest challenge, apart from U.S. involvement,
lies with the major developing countries. With urgent
development problems of their own—hundreds of millions
without electricity, adequate incomes, or transportation—
countries such as Brazil, China, India, and Indonesia are
understandably reluctant to treat climate change as a
priority (World, 2006).
17 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
Organizations such as the World Resources Institute,
The Nature Conservancy, the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment
Programme, and the United States Environmental
Protection Agency, to name just a few, are committed to
implementing projects that reduce, avoid, or sequester
greenhouse-gas emissions. International efforts are helping
to establish guidelines for land use, land use change, and
forestry practices that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions
and increase carbon sinks. As countries continue to
grow and develop, international cooperation will become
increasingly important as the global community searches
for ways to meet the climate-change challenge efficiently
and effectively. The key to successful cooperation is finding
activities that will help all countries achieve their economic,
environmental, and developmental goals in a climatefriendly
Americans increasingly are coming to believe global
warming is a problem. Gallup polling data shows that
the number of Americans who say they worry about the
environment “a great deal” or “a fair amount” increased
from 62 to 77 percent between 2004 and 2006. (The 2006
poll was done in March, before the attention-getting release
of former Vice President Al Gore’s global-warming film,
An Inconvenient Truth.) All over America, a post-Katrina
future is taking shape under the banner of “sustainability.”
Architects are creating sustainable skyscrapers—like the
current champion in Manhattan, the futuristic headquarters
for the Hearst Corporation, lit to its innermost core by the
sun; and the soon-to-be-built Bank of America Tower, also
in Manhattan, that takes “sustainability” to a point just short
of growing its own food. Every drop of rain that falls on
its roof will be captured for use; scraps from the cafeteria
will be fermented in the building to produce methane as
a supplementary fuel for a generator intended to produce
more than half of the building’s electricity; and the waste
heat from the generator will both warm the offices and
power a refrigeration plant to cool the building (Adler,
2006). Last year more private-sector leaders began to
address climate issues. Companies like JP Morgan, Goldman
Sachs, and Wal-Mart took strong positions on climate
change. The CEO of Wal-Mart, H. Lee Scott’s goal is to
reduce the company’s “carbon footprint” (carbon footprint
is a measure of the impact human activities have on the
environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases
produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide) by twenty
percent in seven years. If the whole country could do that,
it would essentially meet the goals set by the Kyoto Protocol
on global warming, which the United States refuses to sign,
to the dismay of its European allies. If Wal-Mart meets
its [20%] goal, it’s going to demonstrate irrefutably that
reducing your “carbon footprint” is not only possible but
financially efficient (Adler, 2006). To calculate your carbon
footprint and to find out how you can reduce it, go to www.
carbonfootprint.com/ or www.safeclimate.net/calculator/ on
the Internet (supported by the World Resources Institute).
The most effective way to ensure that the private sector
facilitates sustainable growth is to give it the tools with
which to “green” and prosper in the marketplace. By
introducing simultaneously profitable and sustainable
business practices into the marketplace, goods and
services that generate social and environmental benefits
can be developed. The 2005 Annual Report “Ideas into
Action,” published by the World Resources Institute,
comprehensively covers pertinent subject matter dealing
with climate and energy and can be obtained by accessing
More energy will be needed to fuel global socio-economic
growth and sustainable development, in particular, to bring
economic opportunities to billions of people in developing
countries, many of whose choices in life are severely
constrained by poverty and limited access to modern energy
sources. The amount of additional energy needed will
depend on the efficiencies with which the energy is delivered
and put to use. The increasing demand for energy poses
serious environmental and health challenges; however, the
most challenging by far is that of global warming.
A second problem complicating the picture is the
unpredictability of human behavior. At what rate will the
human population—and its carbon footprint—grow? As
formerly undeveloped countries expand their industry, often
using cheaper (and more polluting) fossil-fuel technology,
their contributions to greenhouse gases will rise and add to
the problem—but by how much? To what extent will new,
cleaner technologies (such as cars powered by hydrogen
fuel cells) be developed and adopted by countries around
the world? These kinds of uncertainties make the tough
problem of predicting climate change all the more difficult.
Even moderate increases in atmospheric temperature could
alter precipitation levels, making some areas wetter and
others drier, and affecting agriculture worldwide. Warmer
temperatures could increase the frequency and strength of
storm systems, leading to more powerful and destructive
hurricanes and subsequent flooding.
18 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
Figure 5. This image from September 29, 2006 shows the ozone
concentration in the stratosphere above the South Pole observed
by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA’s Aura satellite.
A purple veil of extremely low levels of ozone stretches across
most of Antarctica, which is roughly centered on the image.
Photo courtesy of NASA.
Figure 6. Warmer ocean temperatures have caused some species
of coral to expel their algae in a phenomenon known as coral
bleaching. Disruptions to ecosystems are a major concern of
climate change that threatens the biodiversity of many species.
Photo courtesy of NOAA.
Slight changes in temperature may lead to higher ozone
levels near the earth’s surface, which could significantly
increase smog problems in large cities—bad for all humans,
but serious for many elderly, ill, or otherwise physically
vulnerable people. (Figure 5.)
Unaddressed, climate change will have significant impacts
across the United States and around the world. Sea-level rise
will add to stresses coastal communities are already facing,
including erosion, storms, and pressures from development.
Relatively modest changes in precipitation could have large
impacts on already limited water supplies. Terrestrial,
freshwater, and coastal ecosystems are particularly sensitive
to climate change, threatening biodiversity and ecosystem
goods and services such as fisheries and recreation. Even
human health may be threatened as heat waves, extreme
weather, and vector-borne diseases become more prevalent.
Even if we are able to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases,
some further warming is unavoidable. We must plan and
take action now to adapt to the changes we will face as our
climate changes. (Figure 6.)
Is human activity bringing about alarming global warming
scenarios and related catastrophes? Or is such thinking
a myth brought about by flawed or incomplete science?
Finding the answers to these questions has turned global
warming into a highly politicized and contentious issue.
Today, most scientists agree that earth’s temperature has
risen over the past century and that carbon dioxide is one
of the primary greenhouse gases that contribute to global
warming. Disagreement persists, however, over whether
or not global climate change is a normal environmental
variation, and over how big of a problem global warming
could become for the planet.
A comprehensive lesson plan has been developed for PBS
(Public Broadcasting System) and is available online at:
Adler, J. (2006). Going Green. MSNBC. Retrieved September
20, 2006 from www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13768213/site/
Blakemore, B. (2006). Could Global Warming Become
A Runaway Train? ABC News. Retrieved September
15, 2006 from http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/
Bowen, J. (2006). Global Warming Imperils Alaska
Village. CBS News. Retrieved September 23, 2006
Ideas Into Action: Annual Report. (2005). World Resources
Institute. Retrieved September 20, 2006 from www.wri.
Lash, J. (2005). Environmental Stories To Watch. World
Resources Institute. Retrieved September 18, 2006 from
Pearce, F. (2006). Instant Expert: Climate Change.
Newscientist.com. Retrieved September 01, 2006 from
Stephen L. Baird is a technology education
teacher at Bayside Middle School, Virginia
Beach, VA and adjunct faculty member at Old
Dominion University. He can be reached via
email at Stephen.Baird@vbschools.com.
19 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
GIS Design Project:
Designing a Car-Free Zone in Downtown Shopping Areas
By Harry T. Roman
The quality of one’s solution is
dependent upon the quality of the
A geographical information system (GIS) is essentially an
electronic model, not so much different from the models that
architects and engineers have used in the past. An electronic
format is certainly easier to manipulate and develop design
scenarios from, and today PC-based miniature electronic
models have come to find many spatial applications in
such everyday uses as home kitchen renovations, office and
commercial building design, and interior decorating.
The application of GIS databases warrants that such use
be conducted in an interdisciplinary, multi-dimensional
manner. Ultimately, there will be social, environmental, and
political ramifications associated with manipulating the two
and three-dimensional space inherent in a GIS database. This
is the main premise of this GIS project....to educate students
about such impacts while at the same time accomplishing a
GIS design project.
This project should be a team-based effort with 3-8 students involved.
Create a car-free zone in the downtown shopping area of a
city or town, through the utilization of a light rail or jitney
This project should be a team-based effort with 3-8 students
involved, but may be pared back to individual activities at the
discretion of the teacher. In the preferred team-based effort,
activities will be parsed out to various students or sub-teams
so students can practice interpersonal and communication
skills, learning how real projects are conducted in business.
20 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
How might a rail service be situated among the major shopping centers within a downtown area?
The team leader for each project should act as the
coordinator for various activities and project scheduling. A
formal schedule of activities (that appears below) should be
the prime document that the team follows in the conduct of
the time constraints of the project.
• Obtain and examine a GIS database for the downtown
area of the city or town. Develop some very preliminary
ideas about how a rail or jitney service might be situated
among the major shopping centers within the downtown
• Research what other cities and towns have done in their
downtown areas. This research can be conducted via the
Internet and/or traditional library searches; and should
include both national and international experiences. This
activity should culminate in a team report, emphasizing
best practices as well as key issues raised and addressed.
• Field-visit the downtown area selected and conduct a
street-level survey of the area and neighboring buildings.
A photographic album annotated and embellished with
detailed notes and commentary should be produced by
• Arrangements should be made to meet with storeowners
to discuss the project, gathering input and concerns about
how their stores might operate in a car-free zone. Special
attention should be paid as to how stores might receive
their merchandise deliveries and conduct their routine
transfer of goods and services in the zone; and also
determine when the car-free zone will be in effect during
weekdays, weekends, and holidays.
• Locate and design the origin and terminus points or loop
layouts of the rail/jitney service routes, illustrating all this
on GIS maps.
• Locate and design parking facilities at origin, terminus, or
key loop points, again illustrating these locations on GIS
• Locate and illustrate on GIS maps how traffic flow
will be rerouted around the car-free zone and, to the
extent possible, discuss how traffic patterns may affect
the normal movement of traffic in the general areas
surrounding the car-free zone.
• Review light rail and jitney equipment manufacturers to
evaluate possible aesthetic and economic impacts of this
Students should be encouraged to utilize existing
infrastructure as much as possible since such structures are
a vital part of the city/town already. For instance, light rail
21 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
The goal is to create a car-free zone in the downtown shopping area of a city or town.
facilities may already exist and could be extended to serve
this design purpose. Or students might realize that slightly
expanding the scope of this rail/jitney concept to areas
outside of the downtown district could initiate even more
benefits. Students should be free to make such suggestions
and even, when feasible, include them in their designs.
At this point, as the team designs are developing, students
should notice how the informed design differs so much from
the very preliminary ideas originally conceived. Students
should also be encouraged to suggest ancillary aspects of
their designs that may proffer aesthetic touches and such.
Some teams might want to incorporate things like street
vendors into the free space, or perhaps some environmental
amenities, art exhibits, etc. This should be allowed as long as
it does not deter from the main design focus or sap resources
from team activities.
Critical Analysis of Designs
Each team should prepare an oral presentation of its design
to fellow classmates and teams. After each presentation,
there should be a critical analysis of the design by all in
attendance, emphasizing both pro and con aspects of each
Teams may then make revisions to their designs, work to
improve their original design, and finalize a report that
summarizes their design project.
During this phase of activities, the teacher may invite city
and town planners in to review the work of the students.
This feedback would give students a practical, real-world
review of their work, possibly disclosing new directions and
revisions not before imagined. Years of actual experience of
city planners would be an invaluable source of information
for both teacher and students. Perhaps city leaders, members
of council, aldermen, or supervisors may be able to attend
and offer their comments.
This is the kind of open-ended design that is an invaluable
adjunct to the modern classroom. It contains the multidimensional
and multi-disciplinary tone that characterizes
so much of the business world and is highly valued in new
It is important for all students to understand that there are
no right or wrong answers to this type of design challenge.
Each design depends upon the questions team members
impose upon the challenge. The quality of one’s solution
is dependent upon the quality of the questions asked. And
quality is dependent upon the depth of one’s investigations.
The best quality solutions result from the range of questions
asked and their interconnectedness to other topics. The
fertile soil for elegant design originates at the interfaces of
Harry T. Roman recently retired from his
engineering job and is the author of a variety
of new technology education books. He can be
reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
22 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
But ITEA’s new Engineering byDesign (EbD) model program provides so
much standards-based curriculum for your classroom, it almost FEELS like
The EbD curricular offerings coordinate with themes in the STEM and IT
Clusters while also serving a program that wants to appeal to and engage a wider
audience of students. By serving a wider student population, it may encourage
students who have not previously considered a technological career to do
so, exposing them to the wide array of possibilities. Also, EbD is indisputably
standards-based; not only is the curricula based on the technological literacy
standards and linked to the science and mathematics standards, it is also developed
using standards-based processes. Another feature of EbD is the system
of feedback and resources available through the EbD Network, which serves to
continually update content and assessment. This sharing of student exemplars
has an added advantage of making the curricula and associated assessments
more consistent for those delivering EbD. And, of course, participating in the
CATTS Consortium enables EbD users to participate in the future directions
EbD takes, helping to pool the resources in CATTS states to provide for the
needs of each state.
So . . . relax. It’s okay to make it easier on yourself—and
provide quality education for the
students you serve at the same time. That’s what
EbD is all about.
For more information about EbD, visit
us online at www.engineeringbydesign.org
or contact Barry Burke at 301-482-1929 or
A Model for the Integration of
Science, Technology, Engineering,
By Aaron C. Clark and Jeremy V. Ernst
Instead of producing skilled craftsmen or
hobbyists, we are now to produce competent
members of society with an array of knowledge
and understanding of not only technology but
also how it functions with and affects other
The integration of science, technology, engineering,
and mathematics content (STEM) has become
a mainstream topic within educational systems.
For successful integration, many factors must be
considered when taking into account technology education
as a key focal point of integrated curricula. Many factors
must be in place for true integrations of subject matter to
transpire using technology education, such as academic
collaboration, hands-on approaches, and the use of
creativity and problem solving. Academic collaboration
prepares instructors to provide students with hands-on,
open-ended, real-world problem-solving experiences that
are linked (Berry, Reed, Ritz, Yin, Hsiung, and Frazier, 2005).
Instructors should use intrinsically motivating approaches
such as visual and kinesthetic learning methods, creativity
strategies, problem-based learning, and learning through
design. Problem-based and project-based approaches
to student learning have been shown to improve the
understanding of basic concepts and to encourage deep and
creative learning despite academic content area (Powers and
Research uncovers powerful associations in science,
mathematics, and technology education concepts when it
comes to student learning (Berry, Reed, Ritz, Yin, Hsiung,
and Frazier, 2005). Through hands-on activities, students
are less restricted and can actively experience learning.
Relevance is conveyed through hands-on learning. This
allows students to observe the role of innovation in everyday
life. Students learn to appreciate and apply design and
problem solving through developing solutions that meet
the needs of our society (Schafer, Sullivan, and Yowell,
2003). Constructivist-approach integrated curricular
content addresses real-life questions and uses disciplines as
resources for a whole education instead of the fragmented
learning that occurs in most educational settings (Venville,
Rennie, and Wallace, 2004).
Consistency with state and national standards reinforced
with end-of-grade or end-of-course testing is necessary.
Instructional materials that are merely standards-based
are not considered true integrators unless they address
competencies that are directly measurable in technology
education and other disciplines. In a curriculum integration
project by Venville, Wallace, Rennie, and Malone, it was
concluded that students refer to specific subject-based
content knowledge to help them solve problems, but also
find it necessary to consult other sources of knowledge such
as parents and other teachers. This finding clearly argues in
favor of going beyond subject-based standards to evaluate
the degree and depth of learning that occurs in integrated
educational environments (Venville, Rennie, and Wallace,
Technology education has the means of becoming the
catalyst for integrated curricula, especially in areas where
mathematics and science are difficult to incorporate into
other subject matter. Technology is diverse enough in
nature that it can be addressed by a variety of content areas,
bringing along with it the means to integrate mathematics
24 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
1 – Demonstrate the
value of technology
education to other
2 – Explain
are integral to
and science. Considering that
technology can be the driving
force behind integration, the
authors suggest cohorts of
teachers from all academic areas,
including technology education,
work together to provide a
curriculum, with technology
leading the process and content.
This cohort of teachers consists
of English, mathematics, science,
history, and technology educators,
with the majority of all integration
occurring in STEM areas. The
primary functions of English and
history are to work periodically
with STEM areas as support units.
9 – Schedule biweekly
8 – Develop a
to match other
7 – Develop a
The reasoning behind the
establishment of a teacher
cohort is to enable the teachers
to reinforce what others are
teaching while emphasizing
what is being assessed (i.e.,
end-of-grade tests and other standardized tests). The
technology teachers should take the leadership role in the
cohort groups because of the fluidness of the content area.
Technology teachers also project the greatest appreciation
of other content areas by the breadth of technological
content alone. A major mission for this integrated effort
is to have the technology teachers demonstrate the value
of their technology education program and the benefit
to the other academic programs and teachers. Also, the
technology teachers must explain why other content areas
are important to incorporate in their technology education
programs. Successful integration will only occur when
teachers voluntarily commit to the integration. Reluctant
members of the cohort are likely to either be resistant
later or not follow through with the integration process.
Administrator approval and support is key for the success
of the integration process. Without encouragement and
resources such as scheduling flexibility, additional stipends,
etc., the integration will be much more susceptible to failure.
Administrator support is also important in that a summer
in-service needs be organized in order to best equip
teachers to take on the task of curricular integration. The
in-service permits teachers to identify broad competencies
of their program areas and bring them together, allowing the
cohort to observe trends and develop an integration plan.
Cross-walking competencies assist in determining what
6 – Cross-walk
determine what to
3 – Identify other
5 – Meet with
cohort and identify
of each program
Figure 1. Technology Integration Model for Education.
4 – Discuss the
initiative with an
each discipline wants to assess. A comprehensive cohort
rubric can be developed to provide a standardized measure
across program areas. Also, the development of a pacing
guide is important for all academic areas and is a central tool
in matching other program content to what is to be taught
through the integration of technology. Once the cohort has
developed the necessary materials and has mapped and
prepared for the integration, biweekly meetings or common
planning periods are necessary for continued success in the
integration process. (Refer to Figure 1.)
The groups of cohorts will not only provide a support
structure for English, mathematics, science, history, and
technology teachers but also clarify the modernized usage
of technology education in our current educational system.
The new technology teacher’s mission is to reinforce
other disciplines through content integration and the
pursuit of technological literacy. Instead of producing
skilled craftsmen or hobbyists, we are now to produce
competent members of society with an array of knowledge
and understanding of not only technology but also how it
functions with and affects other content areas. (Refer to
25 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
Table 1. Example of technology education integration with other academic areas.
(Courtesy of the VisTE Project: Visualization in Technology Education.)
Write a report
on the current
Write a data
Graph X and
*Materials published through Delmar Learning
** International Technology Education Association, 2000/2002
Math Science History Technology **STL
used to control
Make a photojournal
past uses of
for the use of
There are multiple methods of measuring the success
of the integration. The end-of-grade test assessment is
an indicator of integration success, given that programspecific
competencies are addressed in the process. Student
surveys and teacher logs can also be used to determine the
perception of effectiveness. Evaluation of student portfolios
provides an indication of the success of the integration.
All of these materials should be brought to the following
summer in-service to further analyze the integration and
to incorporate changes to the model for the following year.
Follow-up qualitative interviews of teachers, students, and
parents can provide further insight into the successes and
failures in the integration process that are not otherwise
Successful integration is hindered by compartmentalized
education. Many times educators, including technology
teachers, become territorial over content and subject
matter. Direct continuity between content across subject
areas serves as an agent that conveys relevance to students
by allowing them to observe a sequential process in
place of disconnected educational components. Merging
content requires extensive preparation on the part of the
instructor in order to provide the greatest benefit to the
student. A natural progression between integral curricular
components enhances student outcomes.
Berry, R.Q., Reed, P.A., Ritz, J.M., Lin, C.Y., Hsiung, S.
& Frazier, W. (2005). STEM initiatives: Stimulating
students to improve science and mathematics
achievement. The Technology Teacher, 64(1), 23-29.
International Technology Education Association.
(2000/2002). Standards for technological literacy:
Content for the study of technology. Reston, VA: Author.
Powers, S.E. & DeWaters, J. (2004). Creating project-based
learning experiences university-k-12 partnerships.
Published Proceedings of the American Society
for Engineering Education Frontiers in Education
Conference, Savannah, GA, Session F3D.
Schafer, M.R., Sullivan, J.F., & Yowell, J.L. (2003). Standardsbased
engineering curricula as a vehicle for k-12
science and math integration. Published Proceedings
of the American Society for Engineering Education
Frontiers in Education Conference, Boulder, CO,
Venville, G., Rennie, L., & Wallace, J. (2004). Decision
making and sources of knowledge: How students
tackle integrated tasks in science, technology, and
mathematics. Research in Science Education, 34,
Aaron C. Clark, Ed.D., is an associate
professor in the Department of Mathematics,
Science, and Technology Education at North
Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. He
can be reached via email at aaron_clark@
Jeremy V. Ernst, Ed.D., is a visiting
assistant professor in the Department of
Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Education at North Carolina State
University in Raleigh, NC. He can be reached
via email at email@example.com.
26 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
Special Needs and The Need for Fun
By Ronald D. Yuill, DTE
This approach worked as [the
students] taught each other and
communicated in a positive way.
During the first few days of school I asked students in
one of my classes to tell something they liked to do,
name something they would like to know more about
that would help them later in life, and what they
would like to do in the future. This gave me some ideas of
what to incorporate into the class to help them to be more
successful in later life.
The class I refer to in this article is a “special needs” class.
In my other classes, I teach only seventh grade students.
In the special needs, or “SPED” class, I have sixth, seventh,
and eighth grade students, and they have the most difficulty
of any students in the school in grasping new concepts.
These same students, however, are also the ones who best
appreciate what you do for them and can be the most caring
and sharing. Their behavior is usually better than the other
students. They are the students who stop by the classroom
during passing period and tell you about something special
that happened to them at school or home or just to say, “I
hope your day is going great today.”
Some students in the SPED class require their own aide, and
therefore I had 19 students and four aides in this class. There
was no way I could have helped these students succeed to
the level they did without the help of our outstanding aides.
They cared about the students and wanted them to have
success. They also kept the students from having any serious
problems in getting along with others in the class and
performing their assigned tasks.
Frances and Jasmine repairing a table storage rack for the
school. It was their first time using a wrench.
One of the first topics to arise was the students’ interest
in creating holiday gifts for relatives. I had serious safety
concerns regarding the students and the scroll saw, so I
completed the first step for them and made some triangles,
circles, and rectangular wooden shapes. If a student wanted
a different shape, I cut it out for him/her. I was presented
with some outstanding designs to cut.
27 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
Jasmine is enjoying sanding her star.
I considered having the students paint the ornaments, but
feared that the difficulty and messiness of the task might
frustrate them. I asked the students how we could add color
to the ornaments. They suggested markers and colored
pencils. Markers worked very well. When we started the
day I had the students share their designs and completed
ornaments with the others in the class. I selected other
students to say something positive about the ornament.
This taught them to look for positives and not negatives
in designs. That concept also transferred to the students
in the class as they worked with their peers. I heard some
of them talking about another student’s creation, and they
were talking about positive traits. This lesson can be used by
many people of all ages!
On the day the students were to take home their ornaments,
I received some to take home for my own Christmas tree.
That was something that made me feel good—knowing that
the students made the effort to make something for me. I
thanked them and suggested that they take some ornaments
for their other teachers, to make them feel special as well.
It was also a good feeling when the teachers told me about
receiving the ornaments. They all said they were going to
place them on their trees to remind them of the students
who made the ornaments.
Greg is adding color to his ornament.
When considering another project, one student said he
had trouble working with money when making change and
budgeting. I purchased some play money and had some
students take turns making change. During this activity,
some students needed more help and were able to work
with an aide. We all worked on a budget. I told them, if they
could produce something to sell and make a profit, we could
have a pizza party at the end of the class. Students needed
to determine the number of pizzas needed and the cost of
delivery, with a tip. One student asked, “What is a tip?” We
discussed it and determined that it is a reward for doing a
good job. One of the students said, “Then the pizza party
will be our tip for getting the job done!”
We produced triangle games, using golf tees for the pegs.
We were fortunate to have the tees donated. By using scrap
pieces of wood, we were able to increase our profit. Some
of the students wanted a game and did not have the money.
An aide suggested giving a student a game free if they sold
one or more. It worked! There are now many teachers in
the school who purchased games for students to use if they
complete their assignments.
Devonia says “Doesn’t my ornament look good?”
When we drilled the holes in the game, it took three people.
An aide held the game board, one student turned on the
28 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
drill press and another drilled the hole. The aide gave
the commands: “On,” “drill,” and “off.” The “on” and “off”
commands were instructions for a student to turn on and off
the machine. The “drill” command meant a student turned
the handle to drill the hole.
One day a student came by as I was getting ready to train
a new crew and turned on the drill press switch. We were
lucky no one was close to the drill bit or moving parts. I
explained to him that someone could have been really hurt
but received no reaction. He did not understand. The next
day we talked about safety and the pushing of the switch.
The student came up to me later and said, “I was bad, could
hurt someone. Sorry.” Those were a lot of words for that
student, as he did not talk much and many times did not
understand what was happening.
Luis designed a bear Santa.
Later we worked on job applications and initially
encountered some problems. I went to a local Wendy’s and
obtained many applications. Each line of the application
was explained as the students tried to fill in the blanks. We
worked very hard on a practice sheet and then placed the
information on the Wendy’s application.
We did practice interviews with some of the students. We
began with a good handshake, and eye contact followed
by saying “Good afternoon” and using the person’s
name. Wendy’s management suggested some topics for
the interview. They had all improved their skills after
completing the process. Having a sample application at
home should also help with future applications.
Sara, an aide, holds down the triangle game while one student
turns the power off and on and another student drills the hole.
In another project, I found some old metal vises that had
been in the back of a cabinet for many years. They were
old and rusty. I had the students take them apart, clean the
parts, paint, and then reassemble them. The sale of the vises
paid for the pizza party! At the same time, the students
learned about cleaning, painting, lubrication, and evaluating
ways to make the vises work better.
One day the custodian bent a wheel on his storage rack.
It was not long before the students discovered why it
happened; they noticed many bolts were missing. I had two
students remove the wheel and bend it back into shape. As
the wheel was being reinstalled, another student offered to
help. She had never used a tool before. By now, you know
all of the students wanted to use the wrenches. I had each
student remove a bolt and then replace it. The student who
had never used a tool really had trouble with the wrench,
so I got out a socket wrench and set it to tighten. She got so
excited she yelled, “I tightened a screw!” Another student
Chris and Wes are having fun learning about the West Point Bridge
29 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
said, “No, it is a bolt.” With that information she waved the
socket wrench in the air and yelled many times, “I tightened
a bolt!” She made the entire class smile, and they enjoyed
The SPED class was not permitted to take the computer
keyboarding class, so I thought they should get to use our
lab. We started with the West Point Bridge Builder program.
I had used the program previously and therefore did not refamiliarize
myself with it before opening the program using
an LCD projector. The program was a newer version and I
said aloud, “I am not sure what I am doing.” One student,
who had a computer at home and used it daily, asked if he
could try something. He attempted several commands and
asked if anyone else wanted to try. Before long, I learned
how it worked. I told them I would design a bridge, and they
should try to improve and make one that was less expensive.
I omitted some parts and made an expensive design. We
tried to test it, and the program said my design was unstable
and cost six million dollars. I showed them how to get
started and suggested that they work as partners due to our
limited number of computers. The student who helped me
get started came up to me and said. “Mr. Yuill, you tricked
me into helping you by saying you were not sure what to
do. You are really a good teacher.” That was the icing on the
cake, as each student designed a bridge that worked. We did
the activity for three days, and each day I encouraged the
students to share their findings with the others in the class.
When someone created a less expensive bridge that worked,
everyone checked it out and applauded. We printed out the
design for each student upon completion.
With the success of the bridge unit, we moved on to
designing a house. This time I practiced with the program
before demonstrating in front of the students. I did not
give them much information initially, but encouraged them
to share their findings with others. If they had problems,
they were to ask others in the class for help. This approach
worked, as they taught each other and communicated in a
positive way. I helped those students who really needed help.
We used the LCD projector and showed all the designs to
everyone. One student did not have a door in the bathroom
and was asked by another student, “How does a person get
into the bathroom?” The student replied, “With a door!” and
installed one with a quick click. All designs were printed to
take home to show family members.
One day the students really touched my heart. During the
morning announcements, the principal announced that it
was my birthday. I had a few students say happy birthday,
but during the SPED class, I had difficulty quieting the class
enough to allow me to talk. Finally one of the very quiet
boys stood up and said, “Excuse me, please, I have a birthday
card for you from all of us.” They then sang Happy Birthday.
It really caught me off guard and I had trouble saying,
“Thank you very much!”
Helping these students learn was a delightful experience,
and I hope all of you have the same experience with your
students on a daily basis!
Ron Yuill, DTE is a technology teacher at
Tecumseh Middle School in Lafayette, IN. He can
be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ron
also serves as co-mediator for ITEA’s popular
Forrest T. Jones & Company......................... 31
Goodheart-Willcox Publisher...................... 33
Tech Ed Concepts, Inc................................... 33
Valley City State University.......................... 13
30 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007
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3 ) is a hands-on, minds-on series of 10 instructional
units that each last approximately 10 to 12 hours. Students work in pairs to complete a
portfolio as they engineer a solution to a technological challenge. Solutions must be
researched, designed, constructed, tested, and presented to the class. Additional resources
and training are available for teachers and schools. See www.i3cubed.com.
Children Today... The Future Tomorrow
w w w . i 3 c u b e d . c o m
I n v e n t i o n , I n n o v a t i o n , I n q u i r y • 7 0 3 . 8 6 0 . 2 1 0 0
(Get real. SolidWorks ® Education Edition.)
Real-world software helps students learn science, engineering, and analysis. Bring theory to life
with real-world examples. Give your students powerful SolidWorks and COSMOS ® software to understand the
mechanics of design, stress, motion, fluid flow, and more. SolidWorks Education Edition is easy to use, with
curriculum and courseware that make it easy to learn, easy to teach.
To learn more or to locate a reseller near you, go to www.solidworks.com/education
SolidWorks is a registered trademark of SolidWorks Corporation. SolidWorks Corporation is a Dassault Systèmes company. ©2006 SolidWorks Corporation. All rights reserved.
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