December/January 2007- Vol 66, No. 4 - International Technology ...

December/January 2007- Vol 66, No. 4 - International Technology ...





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

December/January 2007

Volume 66 • Number 4

Integrating Virtual

Reality Into Technology

Education Labs


Special Needs and the Need for Fun

Helping Teachers Turn Today’s Students



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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

and Calendar

You & ITEA

Design Brief

14 Resources

in Technology

20 Classroom






A Model for the Integration of Science, Technology, Engineering,

and Mathematics

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,

Executive Director

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:

Advertising Sales:

ITEA Publications Department


Fax: 703-860-0353

Subscription Claims

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

Herndon, VA and additional mailing offices.


Now Available on the

ITEA Website:

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

Only are:

• 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


Dan Engstrom

California University of PA

Steve Anderson

Nikolay Middle School, WI

Stephen Baird

Bayside Middle School, VA

Lynn Basham

MI Department of Education

Clare Benson

University of Central England

Mary Braden

Carver Magnet HS, TX

Jolette Bush

Midvale Middle School, UT

Philip Cardon

Eastern Michigan University

Michael Cichocki

Salisbury Middle School, PA

Mike Fitzgerald

IN Department of Education

Marie Hoepfl

Appalachian State Univ.

Laura Hummell

Manteo Middle School, NC


Stan Komacek

California University of PA

Frank Kruth

South Fayette MS, PA

Linda Markert

SUNY at Oswego

Don Mugan

Valley City State University

Monty Robinson

Black Hills State University

Mary Annette Rose

Ball State University

Terrie Rust

Oasis Elementary School, AZ

Yvonne Spicer

Nat’l Center for Tech Literacy

Jerianne Taylor

Appalachian State University

Greg Vander Weil

Wayne State College

Katherine Weber

Des Plaines, IL

Eric Wiebe

North Carolina State Univ.

Editorial Policy

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

Referee Policy

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 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

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

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

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

to life.

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 or directly from the publisher, Trilogy

Publications ( 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


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; Donna Smith, VCEC

President, at 804-403-3592 or; or

Janis Churchill, VCEC President-Elect, at 540-271-1531 or for additional information.

The general registration form and convention information

may also be accessed at:

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. 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

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


• 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. or Mark Dissell at mdissell@, 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@ 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

• 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

Exploration Curricular

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

Barbara Morgan

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

design-only challenge.

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

project develops.


byDesign (EbD):

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

A previous space launch.

• The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007

Design Brief

Design Brief: Engineering DNA

(Deoxyribonucleic Acid)

By Lisa Goel

Base Pair



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

Standards-based Instruction

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

related technologies.

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, 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

regularly updated.

• 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 (,

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.

Sound Effects

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.

Head-Mounted Displays

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 (;

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

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


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


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:

Pearson/Prentice Hall.

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


General Reality Company. (n.d.a). Choosing an HMD.

Retrieved July 14, 2004 from


General Reality Company. (n.d.b). Head-mounted displays.

Retrieved July 14, 2004 from


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


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

Climate Change:

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-


Feedback Loops

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 Threat

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. or 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


Blakemore, B. (2006). Could Global Warming Become

A Runaway Train? ABC News. Retrieved September

15, 2006 from


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. 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

19 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007

Classroom Challenge

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

questions asked.


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 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.

Project Premise

Create a car-free zone in the downtown shopping area of a

city or town, through the utilization of a light rail or jitney

transportation service.

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.

Project Activities

• 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

each team.

• 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

topical areas.

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

22 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007


(Not really.)

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

or contact Barry Burke at 301-482-1929 or

A Model for the Integration of

Science, Technology, Engineering,

and Mathematics

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

content areas…

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

DeWaters, 2004).

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

content areas

2 – Explain

why other

content areas

are integral to


in technology


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

comprehensive integrated

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

meetings or

common planning

8 – Develop a

pacing guide

to match other

content areas

7 – Develop a

comprehensive rubric

across programs

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

competencies to

determine what to


3 – Identify other

willing teacher


5 – Meet with

cohort and identify

broad competencies

of each program

Figure 1. Technology Integration Model for Education.

4 – Discuss the

initiative with an

administrator and

receive approval

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

Table 1.)

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.)


(Unit from




(Unit from






(Unit from




Write a report

on the current


used in


Write about

ethics and

privacy issues

Write a data




volume and

work area




Graph X and

Y data-driven


*Materials published through Delmar Learning

** International Technology Education Association, 2000/2002

Math Science History Technology **STL

Discuss medical

anatomy and



physical and





and insulation

used to control


Make a photojournal


current and

past uses of


Create timeline

of development

of devices

Create timeline

for the use of



design, create



Design a


physical device



on how















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

directly measurable.


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,

Session F3A.

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

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

Building Program.

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

her success.

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 Ron

also serves as co-mediator for ITEA’s popular

listserv, IdeaGarden.

Ad Index


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30 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2007

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Teaching tools for your hands-on classroom. • 866-622-1003



and Inquiry

Invention, Innovation, and Inquiry (I

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

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

(Imagination 101)

(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

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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