December/January 2005 - International Technology and ...

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December/January 2005 - International Technology and ...

DECEMBER/JANUARY 2005 Volume 64, No. 4

Robots Recruit Tomorrow’s Engineers

Also Inside: Kansas City 2005

Preliminary Conference Program

www.iteawww.org


EDUCATION EDITION 2004-2005

SolidWorks®

The World’s #1 Mainstream 3D Design Software

#1 in production

#1 in customer satisfaction

#1 in sales

Mechanical engineering. Industrial design. Aerospace. Robotics.

Manufacturing technology. Automotive systems.

No matter what the subject, the SolidWorks Education Edition makes

learning faster and easier. Powerful, innovative, easy to learn and

use, the SolidWorks Education Edition uses project-based learning

and real world exercises to teach the fundamentals of 3D CAD for

today’s design engineering technology disciplines.

The SolidWorks Education Edition is available from authorized

SolidWorks Educational Resellers. To locate a Reseller in your area,

please visit the SolidWorks website at:

www.solidworks.com/education, or call 1-800-693-9000.

SolidWorks Experience Preferred

System

Requirements:

• Microsoft ® Windows ® XP

Professional / Windows 2000

/Windows NT ® 4.0 (SP6 or greater)

• Intel Pentium ® or AMD Athlon

- class processor

• 256 MB RAM or greater (512MB to

1 GB or greater recommended for

assemblies exceeding 1000 parts)

• Pointing device

• CD-ROM drive

• Internet Explorer 5.5 or later

• Microsoft Excel 2000, 2002,

or 2003 required for Bills of

Material or design tables

• A tested OpenGL workstation

graphics card and driver

combination.

(see: www.solidworks.com/graphicscards)

The SolidWorks Education Edition 2004-2005

includes the following software:

• SolidWorks Education Edition 2004-2005

• SolidWorks Animator

• SolidWorks Toolbox

• eDrawings Professional

• PhotoWorks

• FeatureWorks ®

• SolidWorks Utilities

• 3D Instant Website

• COSMOSXpress

• COSMOSWorks Professional

• COSMOSMotion

• COSMOSFloWorks

• Complete online documentation and “Introducing SolidWorks” tutorial

• Installation option for twelve languages including: English, French,

German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Traditional Chinese

• Perpetual-use subscription-based license

SolidWorks is a registered trademark and PhotoWorks, eDrawings Professional and COSMOSXpress

are trademarks of SolidWorks Corporation. All other company and product names are trademarks

or registered trademarks of their respective owners. © 2004 SolidWorks Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


DECEMBER/JANUARY 2005

Volume 64, No. 4

Publisher, Kendall N. Starkweather, DTE

Editor-In-Chief, Kathleen B. de la Paz

Editor, Kathie F. Cluff

ITEA Board of Directors

Anna Sumner, President

George Willcox, Past President

Ethan Lipton, DTE, President-Elect

Doug Wagner, Director, ITEA-CS

Tom Shown, Director, Region 1

Chris Merrill, Director, Region 2

Dale Hanson, Director, Region 3

Doug Walrath, Director, Region 4

Rodney Custer, DTE, Director, CTTE

Michael DeMiranda, Director, TECA

Patrick N. Foster, Director, TECC

Kendall N. Starkweather, DTE, 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

non-members, plus shipping—domestic @ $6.00 and

outside the U.S. @ $17.00 (surface).

Email: iteacomm@iris.org

World Wide Web: www.iteawww.org

Advertising Sales:

ITEA Publications Department

703-860-2100

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 change.

Postmaster

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.

DEPARTMENTS

2 ITEA Online

3 In the News and Calendar

5 You & ITEA

10 IDSA Activity

14 Resources in Technology

FEATURES

6 Critical Issues and Problems in Technology

Education

The results of research conducted to ascertain the perspectives of classroom

teachers, university professors, and supervisors of technology education to

determine the critical issues and problems facing the profession.

Robert C. Wicklein, DTE

19 Robots Recruit Tomorrow’s Engineers

Describes BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology), which links

educators with industry to provide middle and high school students with a glimpse

of the exciting world of robotics, with the goal of inspiring and interesting them in

engineering, math, and science careers.

Cheryl Cobb

23 STEM Initiatives: Stimulating Students to Improve

Science and Mathematics Achievement

Describes the collaborative movement referred to as STEM—integrating instruction

in science, technology education, engineering, and mathematics.

Robert Q. Berry, III, Philip A. Reed, John M. Ritz, DTE, Cheng Y. Lin, Steve Hsiung,

and Wendy Frazier

30 Assessing for Technological Literacy

This article is written to help the teacher and teacher educator recognize the inherent

value of designing quality assessments to measure technological literacy in students.

Daniel E. Engstrom

INSERT – ITEA Kansas City 2005 Conference

Preliminary Program

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER


Editorial Review Board

Co-Chairperson

Co-Chairperson

Dan Engstrom

Stan Komacek

California University of PA California University of PA

NEW ON ITEA’S WEB SITE

Steve Anderson

Nikolay Middle School, WI

Stephen Baird

Bayside Middle School, VA

Lynn Basham

MI Department of Education

Jolette Bush

Midvale Middle School, UT

Philip Cardon

Eastern Michigan University

Michael Cichocki

Salisbury Middle School, PA

Gerald Day

University of MD-ES

Mike Fitzgerald

IN Department of Education

Tom Frawley

G. Ray Bodley High School, NY

John W. Hansen

University of Houston

Roger Hill

University of Georgia

Angela Hughes

Morrow High School, GA

Frank Kruth

South Fayette MS, PA

Ivan Mosley, Sr.

Jackson State University

Don Mugan

Valley City State University

Terrie Rust

Oasis Elementary School, AZ

Monty Robinson

Black Hills State University

Andy Stephenson

Scott County High School, KY

Greg Vander Weil

Wayne State College

Steve Waldstein

Dike-New Hartford Schools, IA

Scott Warner

Millersville University of PA

Katherine Weber

Des Plaines, IL

Eric Wiebe

North Carolina State Univ.

Now Available on the ITEA Web Site:

✦ “What Americans Think About Technology” -

2004 Gallup Poll report, data, survey questions,

and PowerPoint presentation now available online

www.iteawww.org/TAA/GallupPollsMainPage.htm.


“Picture of the Week” - Get recognition for your

students and program. ITEA will post a “Picture of

the Week” on its homepage each week. To submit

a photo from your classroom of student(s) actively

learning about technology –

www.iteawww.org/PhotoOp.htm.

ITEA ONLINE

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.

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 photographs to accompany the article, a

copy of the article on disc (PC compatible), and five hard

copies. Maximum length for manuscripts is 8 pages.

Manuscripts should be prepared following the style specified

in the Publications Manual of the American Psychological

Association, Fifth Edition.

Editorial guidelines and review policies are available by

writing directly to ITEA or by visiting www.iteawww.org/

F7.htm. Contents copyright © 2004 by the International

Technology Education Association, Inc., 703-860-2100.

✦ “Best New ITEA Membership Rate in History” -

Paxton/Patterson is partnering with ITEA to offer the

biggest membership deal in ITEA’s history to NEW

professional members! (U.S. members only). Go to

ITEA’s homepage and click on the $25 button!

www.iteawww.org.

www.iteawww.org

2 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


IN THE NEWS & CALENDAR

Space Day 2005 Design

Challenges

The Space Day Design Challenges are

an inquiry-based learning tool that

inspires young people to achieve

academic excellence in science,

math, and technology. The Design

Challenges emphasize collaborative

learning by requiring students to use

creative problem solving, criticalthinking

skills, and teamwork to

find solutions to real challenges

encountered by people living and

working in space, and are aligned to

national educational standards. This

year the challenges, produced by

Challenger Center for Space Science

Education, are:

• Inventors Wanted - Students are

challenged to research how

humans will live on and explore the

Moon. Then they will invent,

design, and build a working model

of an item that could make life or

work on the Moon easier or more

enjoyable.

• Mission Explore - Students are

asked to develop a mission to send

a rover to one of the planets or

moons to learn more about it. Then

they must invent, design, and build

a 3-D rover model that collects data

about three aspects of the planet or

moon.

• Space Day Star - Students assume

they are astronauts living on

the Moon and must create an

electronic newspaper that vividly

describes what it’s like to live and

work on the Moon.

Each of the three Design Challenges

will be available for two separate

levels of students—Grades 4-5 and 6-8.

Although they are used in classrooms,

the Challenges are also an appropriate

activity for after-school groups such

as Boy and Girl Scout troops, Boys

and Girls Clubs, and science clubs.

Design Challenge submissions are due

by February 15, 2005. The winning

teams will be selected by a committee

of education experts. Members of the

winning teams and their teacher or

leader will be invited to the Space Day

national celebration on May 5, 2005,

in Washington, DC, where they will

participate in a recognition ceremony.

Full details and registration forms,

as well as the three new Design

Challenges for 2005, are available on

the Space Day Web site at

www.spaceday.org.

National Toy Design

Challenge

Toys are a great way to learn about

science, engineering, and the design

process. That’s why Sally Ride

brought Hasbro, Sigma Xi (The

Scientific Research Society), Smith

College, and Sally Ride Science

together to launch TOYchallenge in

2002. TOYchallenge is motivated by

the lack of gender and ethnic diversity

in the field of engineering, and is

designed to engage kids in an

engineering activity that is fun. As

girls and boys create a toy or game,

they experience engineering as a

creative, collaborative process,

benefiting from a diversity of perspectives,

and relevant to everyday life.

To enter TOYchallenge 2005,

interested students in Grades 5-8

must find a coach, form a team of

between three and eight members—

half of whom must be girls—and sign

up by December 15, 2004. There is a

$25 registration fee per team.

Teams choose from among several

themed categories such as Build It!,

Get Out and Play, or Remarkable

Robots. Once a team signs up, they

use the design process to create a toy

or game to enter in the Preliminary

Round. Entries consist of a written

description and drawings of their

creation and must be submitted by

January 28, 2005. Teams will then be

invited to participate in the West

Coast or East Coast Nationals

scheduled to be held at the San Diego

Aerospace Museum and the Sigma Xi

Center in Research Triangle Park, NC

in the spring. The top two teams from

each National contest will be invited,

all expenses paid, to the TOYchallenge

2005 Awards Banquet at Hasbro

Headquarters. In previous years,

winners have received such prizes as

a trip to Space Camp and Hasbro looka-like

figures in each team member’s

likeness.

TOYchallenge 2005 is also being made

into a documentary movie. The film

brings together an award-winning

documentary filmmaker and Sally Ride

Science, a company devoted to

increasing the participation of girls in

science and engineering, in order to

create a theatrical documentary that

will show engineering in a different

light. TOYchallenge: A Story About

Inspiration, Perspiration, and Toys, will

follow several teams of kids, age 10-

13, as they brainstorm, conceive, and

design entries for TOYchallenge. The

film will be launched at film festivals

and distributed through limited

theatrical release, cable, and

video/DVD. It will put a new face on

engineering, changing ideas about

what engineers look like and what

they do, motivating more kids

(particularly girls and minorities) to

engage in science-related activities,

and also changing adults’ attitudes

towards girls in engineering.

For more information, visit

www.TOYchallenge.com.

New Books

Engineering is Elementary: Engineering

and Technology Lessons for Children

is a set of lessons that integrate

elementary school science topics with

specific fields of engineering. Each

unit is designed to engage students in

the engineering design process. Four

units are currently available (Earth

Materials, Air and Water, Water, and

Balance & Motion) and, ultimately,

there are plans for 21 different

elementary science school topics and

engineering fields. Contact the

Engineering is Elementary staff at

EiE@mos.org or 617-627-0230 for

complete information.

NEWS AND CALENDAR

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 3


NEWS AND CALENDAR

Essential WebSites for Educational

Leaders in the 21st Century describes

and gives instant access to more than

300 of the very best Web sites

focused on the information needs of

people working to improve schools.

The author, James Lerman, identifies

the 25 most vital categories of

knowledge needed by educational

leaders and gives the best of the Net

in each category. The book also

includes a full-text CD-ROM that

enables the reader to jump immediately

from the book’s table of

contents right to the corresponding

chapter, and from each listed Web

site instantly to its live location on the

Internet. The book is available at

www.scarecroweducation.com.

A Practical Guide for Crisis Response

in Our Schools: Fifth Edition is from

The American Academy of Experts in

Traumatic Stress. This dramatically

expanded publication provides a

structure and process for effectively

managing the wide spectrum of

school-based crises. It is an invaluable

resource in preparation for, and

during, actual crisis situations,

conveying critical information to assist

schools in responding effectively to

“everyday crises” as well as schoolbased

disasters. It is also a valuable

resource for administrators, support

personnel, and faculty. By reaching

our school families early with a

comprehensive Crisis Response Plan,

we can potentially prevent the acute

difficulties of today from becoming the

chronic problems of tomorrow. For

more information and free downloadable

crisis documents, visit

www.crisisinfo.org.

A Practical Guide for University Crisis

Response provides a structure and

process for effectively managing the

wide spectrum of university-based

crises—from the seemingly mundane

to the most severe. This guide recognizes

that crisis response cannot be

delegated solely to administrators and

members of the Crisis Response

Team. Effective crisis management is

the responsibility of all university

personnel. This publication introduces

and incorporates a practical and

effective strategy for addressing the

emotional needs of people during

traumatic events, Acute Traumatic

Stress Management (ATSM). ATSM

can empower all university personnel

by providing a “road map” to keep

people functioning and mitigate

long-term emotional suffering. Go

to www.crisisinfo.org for more

information and to download free

crisis management documents.

CALENDAR

December 9-11, 2004

The Centre for Learning Research at

Griffith University will host the Third

Biennial Technology Education

Research Conference, which will be

held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Surfers

Paradise, Queensland, Australia. The

conference theme is “Learning for

Innovation in Technology Education.”

For information, contact Howard

Middleton, Conference Director, at

h.middleton@griffith.edu.au.

December 9-11, 2004

The Association for Career and

Technical Education (ACTE) will hold

its annual convention in Las Vegas,

NV. Visit www.acteonline.org for

details.

February 15, 2005

Space Day Design Challenge submissions

due (www.spaceday.org).

February 16-18, 2005

DeVilbiss, Binks and Owens

Community College have teamed up to

present a Spray Finishing Technology

Workshop in Toledo, OH. Classes

meet from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm daily,

include both classroom and hands-on

sessions, and offer two Continuing

Education Units. Attendees should be

involved with industrial, contractor, or

maintenance spray finishing

applications, or spray equipment sales

and distribution. To register, or for

additional information, call 800-466-

9367, ext. 7357, e-mail

sprayworkshop@netscape.net, or visit

www.owens.edu/workforce_cs/index.

html and click “Seminars.”

February 20-26, 2005

National Engineers Week, including

the finals of the National Engineers

Week Future City Competition. For

complete information, visit

www.futurecity.org; or contact Future

City National Director, Carol Rieg, at

877-636-9578 or

CRieg@futurecity.org.

February 24-26, 2005

The Association of Texas Technology

Education will present its conference

at Texas A&M University. For

information, contact Conference

Director Dan Vrudny at

dvrudny@sulross.edu.

March 31-April 3, 2005

The National Science Teachers

Association (NSTA) National

Convention will be held in Dallas, TX.

For additional information, visit the

Web site at www.nsta.org.

April 3-5, 2005

The 67th Annual ITEA Conference and

Exhibition, “Preparing the Next

Generation for Technological Literacy,”

will be held in Kansas City, MO. With

an entirely new schedule, including

expanded registration and resource

booth hours, several new

networking/social events, and, yes,

even a free lunch, the Kansas City

conference promises to be one of the

most exciting in years. Visit

www.iteawww.org for the most upto-date

details.

May 5, 2005

Space Day national celebration in

Washington, DC—the culmination of

the yearlong “Return to the Moon”

Space Day events. Full details and

registration forms are available on the

Space Day Web site at

www.spaceday.org.

June 28-July 2, 2005

The National Technology Student

Association (TSA) conference will be

held in Chicago, IL. Visit

www.tsaweb.org for additional

information.

List your State/Province Association

Conference in TTT, TrendScout, and on

ITEA’s Web Calendar. Submit conference

title, date(s), location, and contact

information (at least two months prior

to journal publication date) to

iteapubs@iris.org.

4 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


YOU & ITEA

ITEA Steps Up Relationship

With Design/Museum World

Summer Design Institute

2005 – July 11-15, 2005

The International Technology Education

Association recently linked with

the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design

Museum, Smithsonian Institution to

increase opportunities for its membership

and technology teachers. ITEA

will lend support to Cooper-Hewitt’s

Summer Design Institute by providing

scholarships to two teachers for the

Design Museum’s workshops. ITEA

will also provide presenters to this

workshop on the topic of standards

and what is happening in the

profession in terms of curriculum and

professional development.

Summer Design Institute is a oneweek

program that features hands-on

workshops, studio visits, and keynote

presentations that connect the school

curriculum with the world beyond the

classroom.

• Learn ways to promote innovation,

critical thinking, visual literacy,

and problem solving across the

K-12 curriculum.

• Share activities for engaging K-12

students in the design process.

• Work with advisors to develop

action plans and strategies for

classroom implementation and

alternative assessment methods.

• Experience how architectural,

environmental, product, graphic,

and media design can enhance the

teaching of mathematics, science,

environmental studies, language

arts, history, and art.

For additional program and credit

information, call Cooper-Hewitt’s

Education Department at

212-849-8385 or visit the Web site

at http://ndm.si.edu/

TECA Events in Kansas City

• Glencoe/McGraw-Hill and TECA

“Live” Communication Contest

Tuesday, April 5, 9-11 am

Designed for teams of college

students from TECA affiliated

chapters. The competing teams

will receive a description of a

product, service, or organization,

plus essential marketing or

demographic information…then

produce a video commercial or

feature. The teams must develop a

storyboard and produce the

required feature.

• TECA/Pitsco Problem Solving

Contest

Sunday, April 3, 11 am - 1 pm

Designed for teams of college

students from TECA affiliated

chapters. The competing teams

will receive contest details, tools,

and materials necessary to develop

a solution to a specific problem.

Each team is responsible for

bringing along the tools and

materials noted on the enclosed

list.

• TECA/Kelvin Technologies

Transportation Contest

Tuesday, April 5, 9-11 am

This contest is about conceptualizing,

designing, and

constructing a transportation

device or craft for optimal

efficiency. The contest has several

variations and involves concepts

associated with air, land, sea,

space, and/or intermodal

transportation. Scoring factors

involve craft performance (i.e.,

efficiency) in addition to the design

documentation and construction.

• SME/TECA “Live” Manufacturing

Contest

Sunday, April 3, 6-10 pm

Sponsored by the Society of

Manufacturing Engineers, this

contest both encourages and

rewards the study of production

technology. Each participating

team must include college students

from TECA affiliated chapters. The

teams must design, document,

fabricate, and implement a

continuous manufacturing system

to produce an assigned product,

using only the tools on the official

list plus the materials provided for

the contest.

• Goodheart-Willcox Publishers/

TECA Technology Challenge

Contest

Saturday, April 2, 8-10:30 pm

TECA members to demonstrate

their knowledge about the core

concepts of technology and the

profession of technology education.

• DEPCO/TECA Teaching Lesson

Contest

Sunday, April 3, 2-4 pm

Allows an individual or pair of

students to teach others about a

technological topic. The topic is

provided well in advance of the

TECA competition. All preparation

for the specific lesson must be

done by the student or team.

During the actual competition, the

lesson is timed and instructional

media is reviewed. The scoring is

based on teaching/learning

effectiveness, organization,

information presented, use of

media, and handouts. The

handout(s) could be in the format

of a design brief, in-class

worksheet, and/or similar items.

Distinguished Technology

Educator (DTE) Program

ITEA created the DTE program to

provide a means for recognizing

members’ outstanding performance

and accomplishments. It is one of the

highest honors for professional

achievement in the field of technology

education. If you have been an ITEA

member for at least 10 consecutive

years, you are eligible to apply. The

application package for the DTE

program is available in Members

Only on the ITEA Web site

(www.iteawww.org). Complete and

submit your application by January 1,

2005 so that you can be recognized

and honored at the next ITEA annual

conference in Kansas City, MO,

April 3-5, 2005.

YOU AND ITEA

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 5


CRITICAL ISSUES AND PROBLEMS IN

TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION

FEATURE ARTICLE

Robert C. Wicklein, DTE

“This is our decade, we will either

develop as a strong and viable

instructional program or we will wither

and die as an insignificant relic of a

failed curriculum” (Custer, 2003).

These prophetic words by the 2002-

2004 president of the Council on

Technology Teacher Education (CTTE)

seem to be ringing more true with the

passing of each school year. In these

critical times it is imperative that we

utilize every available resource to build

and establish our field of study and to

address and solve the issues and

problems that we now face. Therefore,

if we are to guide our profession

successfully through the myriad of

problems and concerns that impact us,

we will need to be strategic in every

decision. A crucial first step to

preserve the future of the profession is

to gather empirical data that

accurately identifies the critical issues

and problems facing technology

education.

Research Goals

To address the need of identifying a

comprehensive base for the critical

issues and problems, research was

conducted to ascertain the perspectives

of classroom teachers, university

professors, and supervisors of

technology education. The goal of the

research was to determine the critical

issues and problems based on the

following two (2) questions:

• What are the critical issues that

are currently impacting the

technology education field of

study?

• What are the critical problems that

are currently impacting the

technology education field of

study?

In order to obtain standardized

information from the most knowledgeable

subjects integral to this topic,

If we are to guide our profession successfully

through the myriad of problems and concerns

that impact us, we will need to be strategic in

every decision.

survey-based research methodologies

were deemed appropriate to collect

data. A combination of random

sampling and total population data

collection strategies were employed.

Stratified random sampling was used

to collect data from classroom

teachers of technology education. A

total of 347 middle school and high

school teachers were randomly

selected from the four regions of the

International Technology Education

Association (ITEA) to participate in this

study. In addition, the entire population

of 132 university department

heads/program leaders in technology

teacher education, as well as the total

population of 55 state and regional

supervisors, were selected to receive

the survey questionnaire. These

individuals represented an appropriate

cross-sectional perspective of the

current needs and difficulties facing

the field of technology education.

Survey Construction

The survey was divided into four (4)

sections. Section 1 – Demographics –

sought to collect data on the

appropriate demographic categories,

including instructional position, (e.g.,

middle school teacher, high school

teacher, etc.), years of experience,

gender, and age. Section 2 –

Directions – explained the procedures

for completing the survey and defined

the terms used in the survey (e.g.,

Critical – high degree of importance for

the field; Issue – a concern that may

affect progress or development for the

field; Problem – an obstacle that is

preventing progress or development for

the field). Section 3 – Critical Issues –

sought the rating and ranking on 18

pre-identified critical issue items.

Section 4 – Critical Problems – sought

rating and ranking on 21 pre-identified

critical problem items. Participants

were asked to rate their level of

agreement or disagreement on each

item by using a likert-type scale,

indicating Strongly Agree, Agree,

Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. In

addition, each participant was

asked to independently rank order the

top three (3) critical issues and

problems that they deemed the most

vital to the field of technology

education.

Results

Of the 534 survey questionnaires that

were mailed, 301 were completed in

some fashion and returned. Five (5)

surveys were incompletely or

inaccurately filled out and were

deemed unusable, therefore, 296

surveys, or 55%, were analyzed for

evaluation. Table 1 presents the results

of the demographic data collected in

this study.

Participants were asked to identify

their level of agreement or

disagreement on each survey item. A

likert-type scale was utilized to

ascertain participant perspectives with

4=Strongly Agree, 3= Agree,

2=Disagree, and 1=Strongly

Disagree. Table 2 represents the

analyses of the overall group mean

6 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


Table 1

Demographics of Study

Participants N %

Middle School Teachers 90 30.3

High School Teachers 107 36.0

University Professors 53 17.8

Supervisors 47 15.8

Gender N %

Male 267 90.2

Female 29 9.8

Experience N %

1-3 Years 19 6.4

4-8 Years 44 14.9

9-15 Years 53 17.9

More than 15 Years 174 58.8

Age N %

20-25 4 1.3

26-45 113 38.0

46-65 176 59.3

More than 65 4 1.3

scores and standard deviations for the

top five (5) critical issues for

technology education. Each of the top

five (5) mean score ratings ranged in

the Agree to Strongly Agree choice.

Table 3 represents the analyses of the

overall group mean scores and

standard deviations for the top five (5)

critical problems for technology

education. Again, each of the top five

(5) mean score ratings ranged in the

Agree to Strongly Agree choice.

When asked to rank order the top

three (3) critical issues and problems

by importance and significance for the

field of technology education, the

participants in this study provided an

interesting mixture of issues and

problems. Several of the top ranked

issues and problems were consistent

Table 2

Overall Mean Scores/Standard Deviations – Top Five Critical Issues for

Technology Education

Critical Issue Mean SD

1 Recruitment of students/teachers into teacher

education programs 3.62 0.55

2 Positioning technology education within the whole

school curriculum 3.44 0.65

3 Identifying and procuring adequate funding sources

for technology education 3.35 0.66

4 Enhancing business and industry connection with

technology education 3.32 0.68

5 Integration of technology education with other

school subjects 3.30 0.70

Table 3

Overall Mean Scores/Standard Deviations – Top Five Critical Problems for

Technology Education

Critical Problem Mean SD

1 Insufficient quantities of qualified technology

education teachers 3.60 0.61

2 Inadequate understanding by administrators and

counselors concerning technology education 3.52 0.69

3 Inadequate understanding by general populace

concerning technology education 3.41 0.68

4 Increased high school graduation requirements

impacting on technology education programs 3.29 0.73

5 Inadequate financial support for technology education

programs 3.29 0.75

with the overall mean scores as

reported in Tables 2 and 3; however,

other items surfaced as being vital to

the field, yet were not evaluated highly

in the mean scores ratings. Table 4

presents the rank orders for the critical

issues.

Table 5 represents the analyses of the

rank order for the critical problems in

technology education.

There was consistency among ratings

in levels of agreement/disagreement

and rank orders on some of the critical

issues and problems. Recruitment of

students/teachers into teacher

education programs was identified as

the highest rated critical issue as well

as the number one ranked item across

all categories of technology educators

(e.g., overall, middle school, high

school, university professor, and

supervisor). Another critical issue that

had consistency both in the mean

score ratings and rank order was,

Identifying and procuring adequate

funding sources for technology

education. This item was rated as the

3 rd highest critical issue and was also

ranked 3 rd highest on the overall status

order. Conversely, Enhancing business

and industry connection with

technology education was rated as the

4 th highest critical issue as analyzed by

mean scores but was not identified by

any of the educator groups when rank

ordered.

The matching of rating scores with

rank order for the critical problems met

with much more consistency. Four (4)

of the top rated critical problems were

also categorized within the top five in

rank order. The critical problem items,

Insufficient quantities of qualified

technology education teachers,

Inadequate understanding by

administrators and counselors

concerning technology education, and

Inadequate understanding by general

populace concerning technology

education, were rated and ranked

identically (position 1, 2, 3) on both

measurements. In addition, Inadequate

financial support for technology

education programs was rated as the

5 th most important critical problem and

ranked 4 th most significant critical

problem.

FEATURE ARTICLE

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 7


Critical Issue

Table 4

Rank Order of Critical Issues in Technology Education

Rank Order

MS HS Univ.

Overall Teacher Teacher Prof. Super.

Recruitment of students/teachers into teacher education programs 1 1 1 1 1

Curriculum design and development for technology education 2 2 2 3 2

Identification of a knowledge base for technology education 3 2 5 2 3

Positioning technology education within the whole school curriculum 4 3 3

Identifying and procuring adequate funding sources for technology education 5 4

Integration of technology education with other school subjects 4 4 4

Revisions and development in technology teacher education 4 5

FEATURE ARTICLE

Critical Problem

Table 5

Rank Order of Critical Problems in Technology Education

Rank Order

MS HS Univ.

Overall Teacher Teacher Prof. Super.

Insufficient quantities of qualified technology education teachers 1 2 4 1 1

Inadequate understanding by administrators and counselors concerning

technology education 2 1 1 4 2

Inadequate understanding by general populace concerning technology education 3 4 3 5 3

Lack of consensus of curriculum content for technology education 4 2 2

Inadequate financial support for technology education programs 5 3

Increased high school graduation requirements impacting on technology

education programs 5 5

Inadequate marketing and public relations of technology education 3 5

Resistance to change in technology education 4

Conclusions

Each of the critical issues and

problems identified in this study bears

further investigation and possible

action to correct the crisis. Clearly,

some of the issues and problems are

more critical to specialized groups, at

certain times, and in particular

locations. However, other issues and

problems are serious and systemic to

the entire profession of technology

education. Some actions will require

the efforts of literally every person

involved in the profession, while others

will need to be addressed by a select

group of educators. The crux of the

matter is that strategic actions by

technology educators at all ranks are

needed if the profession is to take its

rightful place within the school

curriculum.

The most obvious conclusion from this

research is the concern and crisis over

the insufficient quantities of qualified

new technology educators entering the

instructional ranks. As the strongest

indicator in this research, the dilemma

over recruitment and preparation of

new technology teachers coming from

university programs dwarfs all of the

other concerns. Identified as the

highest priority in both the critical

issues and problems sections of the

study, Recruitment of students/

teachers into teacher education

programs and Insufficient quantities of

qualified technology education

teachers are vital to the current and

future health of the technology

education profession. Without a

serious and immediate effort to

address these needs, the field of

technology education, as we know it,

will cease to exist in the short-range

future.

Inadequacies seem to also plague the

field of technology education.

Inadequate understanding by

administrators and counselors

concerning technology education and

Inadequate understanding by general

populace concerning technology

education speak to the issue and

problem of confusion and misunderstanding

of what technology

education is about. Technology

8 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


educators commonly experience the

inaccurate assumptions by professional

educators and general public

alike as to the goal, purpose, and

activities of the field. Serious efforts

need to be directed at developing a

clear and distinct description of the

profession that can be easily grasped

and understood by those inside and

outside of the profession. The common

assumption held by many technology

educators is that an explanation of

technological literacy will suffice in

describing our goals and purpose. This

is a mistaken assumption that

continues to confuse many decisionmakers

as well as the general public.

Curriculum design and development

and the need for consensus of

curriculum content were ranked within

the top five (5) critical issues and

problems; however, they were not

rated (mean scores) highly in this

study. In addition, funding of

technology instructional programs

ranked high for both issues and

problems but was not rated within the

top five (5) of these categories. These

inconsistencies may be indicative of a

separation of general needs when

compared to prioritizing considerations.

In whatever capacity, curriculum

design, development, and consensus,

along with procuring adequate financial

support for technology education,

remain as high needs for the field.

• Identify and communicate a clear

and understandable purpose of

technology education to all

populations.

• Reach consensus in curriculum

design and development as high

priorities.

• Evaluation of this data by

professional leadership to aid in

future planning and focus of the

profession.

• Conduct research of this type at

regular intervals.

“This is our decade” (Custer, 2003); if

we are to grow into an instructional

field that is clear, distinct, and highly

valued, it will take the efforts of every

available human resource technology

education has—elementary teachers,

middle school teachers, high school

teachers, university professors, and

supervisors. We are all in this boat

together.

References

R. Custer (personal communication, March

13, 2003).

Wicklein, R.C. (1993). Identifying critical

issues and problems in technology

education using a modified-delphi

technique. Journal of Technology

Education, 5(1), 54-71.

Wicklein, R.C. & Hill, R.B. (1996).

Navigating the straits with research or

opinion? Setting the course for

technology education. International

Journal of Technology and Design

Education, 6(1), 31-43.

Robert C. Wicklein

is a professor in the

Department of

Occupational

Studies at the

University of

Georgia in Athens.

He can be reached

via e-mail at wickone@uga.edu.

This is a refereed article.

FEATURE ARTICLE

Recommendations

The majority of the issues and

problems that were identified in this

study were also evaluated as

significant in similar studies conducted

in 1993 and 1996 (Wicklein, 1993;

Wicklein & Hill, 1996). The uniquenesses

of the issues and problems

facing technology education at this

time in its history may very well be at

a point of no return, where solutions

must be found if the field is to survive.

The following recommendations will

serve to help guide our profession

through the issues and problems

facing us:

• Undertake significant efforts aimed

at recruiting and preparing new

technology education educators at

all levels.

Simplify the Complex.

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 9


From IDSA

DESIGN EDUCATION FOR NONDESIGNERS

IDSA

James Kaufman, IDSA

Introduction

Few high school students will be

involved in design or technical education,

but someday they may have to

understand what design and the application

of technology can do for them,

either personally or professionally. The

following is a first look at how this

may be accomplished. Over the last

ten or so years, there have been many

higher education attempts to create

interdisciplinary courses of product

design and development. The champion

of establishing these programs has

been and continues to be Peter

Lawrence of the Corporate Design

Foundation. This organization’s mission

is as follows: “It is the mission of

the Foundation to improve the quality

of life and effectiveness of organizations

through design. At the heart of

this mission is a desire to expand the

awareness of design through the education

of corporate leaders, managers,

and public sector executives.”

The mission of another equally important

design-promotion organization,

the Design Management Institute

(DMI), “is an education and research

institute dedicated to demonstrating

the strategic role of design in business

and to improving the management and

utilization of design. DMI assists managers,

executives, consultants, and

educators in their professional development

through conferences, seminars,

leading-edge publications, and a

membership program.” These organizations,

along with others like the

Industrial Designers Society of

America (IDSA), are getting the word

out to enlighten executives about the

value and processes used in design.

These organizations have created an

environment for using design by

providing publications, workshops,

seminars, and case studies that

inform and instruct business leaders

to the value of design.

Additionally, many courses of study

have been organized to teach product

development at institutions like MIT

and Rhode Island School of Design,

Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford

University, and Delft University. All of

these programs promote design as a

means for new corporate innovation

and most encourage alpha-prototype

development. Some of these courses

are interdisciplinary, drawing on students

from business and engineering

majors. Most, if not all, are offered by

engineering faculty within engineering

academic units, and a few are supplemented

by faculty from Business and

Industrial Design. Visually-based

industrial design programs clearly do

not lead the activities at these

institutions.

Numerous other seminars, workshops,

and books have been developed and

promoted to executives of the business

community to help them become

motivated to be more innovative within

product-development processes,

such as the Harvard Business Review

series, in Cogan and Vogel’s new book

Creating Breakthrough Products, and

the publication/workshop like ROI from

Bill Dresselhaus. These publications

and events add value to the understanding

of design and its usefulness

when considering possible tools and

methods to inspire innovation within a

corporation. These materials are also

appropriate for use in business classes

and are good reading for corporate

executives. I question if this material

is fully understood by the nondesign

reader and if, contextually, it can be

applied in managerial settings using

fully integrated industrial design.

Taking into consideration all of the

communication efforts and literature

to promote industrial design within the

corporate product community, there

are several aspects that may have

been overlooked by these efforts

and/or organizations.

1. Few, if any, incorporate traditional

studio practices used for years by

industrial design educators.

2. Very few of these educational

venues or books offer any

projects that teach the act of

designing (e.g., creating product

artifacts), and very few offer simple

methods for drawings or diagramming,

and techniques for studio

discussion and/or critique.

3. Few clearly state rationale for the

designer being involved in the

entire product design cycle—overcoming

the typical scenario of

being brought in during a segment

of the process to add visual acuity

to the project.

Nondesigners may read all of the

material available about design, look

at the numerous pictures of successful

product designs, and study the many

diagrams produced explaining design

process and research, but it is like

looking at fruit and never experiencing

the taste. Experience-based design

education for nondesigners will move

them toward a tasting of what

designers really do. For the objectives

of this proposal, that taste will be

10 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


pleasant and memorable for young

nondesign students to later recall in

their corporate careers or personal

lives.

We need to consider a program to

educate these nondesign professionals

by the same means and techniques

we have been using on our own industrial

design students in their studios for

years. If the Chinese proverb is true

that “a picture is worth ten thousand

words” then we need to move design

education to the visual education side

of things. These experiential studio

offerings provide the means for adding

an indelible memory of how design

really works for the nondesigner.

Proposed Solution—Studio

Experience is at The Heart

of it All…

Case studies, books on innovation,

diagrams about design, lectures, or

other means of teaching design

practice cannot capture the ultimate

understanding of what happens, like

actually creating design artifacts. The

studio experience is at the heart of it

all. This fact is apparent as Hargadon

and Sutton in their paper “Building an

Innovation Factory,” stated, “A critical

stage of the [product development]

process occurs when an idea or

concept becomes a working artifact,

or prototype, which can then be

tested, discussed, shown to

customers, and learned from.” And, “It

is harder to keep ideas alive when

they’re not embedded in tangible

objects.” This concept is also captured

in Thomas Edison’s famous saying,

“99 percent perspiration and 1 percent

inspiration,” the 99 percent

perspiration being the studio activity.

Also on building an “Innovation

Factory” or design studio, “Almost

immediately after thinking of a

promising concept, a development

team at a place like IDEO or Design

Continuum builds a prototype, shows

it to users, tests it, and improves on it.

The team repeats the sequence over

and over.”

Some of the best analytical writing

about the contemporary use of design

to innovate points to the same

conclusion—someone has to take

inspired thinking and research and

turn it into something real. This

interpretive process is what designers

do in their studios. But only after they

have a vague understanding of what is

to be designed do they formulate this

sketchy idea into drawings, diagrams,

visual 3-D models, and/or prototypes

at appropriate communication quality

levels. This thinking and visualization

activity is complex and not completely

explainable, but it can be taught in a

studio-learning environment. Furthermore,

within the studio experience,

the process of critiquing and reincorporating

new ideas back into a

more definitive model is a welldeveloped

process included by most

designers. So, for a nondesigner and

someone trying to really understand

what value a designer can contribute,

he or she must not just understand the

talk, but must “walk the walk.”

Nondesigners must actually design,

act like designers, and experience

firsthand what is involved with

working and producing in a studio

setting. For this purpose, I propose a

stand-alone studio design course, and

a minor in design for more depth of

understanding for those who may

want to work in a design-related

field but not take roles as design

professionals.

Studio Methods: Physical

or Virtual?

In the context of how the contemporary

industrial design studio works,

one should consider the use of

technology along with traditional

methods. As Thomke states, “Do not

assume that a new technology will

necessarily replace an established

one. Usually, new and traditional

technologies are best used in

concert.” This studio experience must

bring to bear both types of tools for

creating visual or real artifacts,

combining them in ways that allow

for the nondesign student to gain

insight—for them a new creative leap

of learning.

Three simple steps to follow in any

design studio are:

1. Understanding – research and

discovery

2. Action – designing by creating

actual artifacts

3. Evaluation – critique and plan for

the next design iteration

The result of these steps is new

knowledge (some form of innovation)

that has been produced about the

product or problem. This knowledge is

then added (looped back) to the

designer’s understanding and next

design iteration. So there is a constant

gain in knowledge, and hopefully

innovation, as the studio process

continues. These three simple steps

capture the essence of a designer’s

studio experience.

Understanding

Understanding defined here is simply

all of the things designers must do

before and during their design process

to be able to have some grounding (a

sketchy idea in their minds and

usually one that cannot be resolved

cognitively) for the production of

visual material and/or a physical

model. Most designers commonly

refer to this as design research, but it

is much more that. One research

method that seems to work well for

most designers is Dorothy Leonard

and Jeffrey F. Rayport’s “Empathic

Design Methods,” stated in the

following steps:

• Step one: Observation

• Step two: Capturing data

• Step three: Reflection and

analysis

• Step four: Brainstorming for

solutions

• Step five: Developing prototypes

of possible solutions

Also of importance is Alan Cooper’s

method of Goal-Directed Design and

IDSA

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 11


IDSA

Research, which is a modeling method

creating theoretical users or personas.

This is a critical step in creating a

design tool for students that takes the

“the designer—me or ego” out of the

process, making it an empathic

understanding process rather than a

self-centered creation. If these design

research principles and methods are

used up front in this “understanding”

phase of the design process,

nondesign students should achieve a

true sense of “user-centered design.”

Action

Action (design action) as defined

here, is at the heart of this

curriculum/instructional proposal for

nondesigners. It is essential for all of

these nondesign students to be

qualified at some working level of

drawing skill and/or proficient at threedimensional

physical modeling. Some

may bring computer skills to the

design studio, such as engineering

students who may have threedimensional

computer modeling skills.

Students with low skill levels must

accept the fact that they, to some

degree, can participate in a nonintimidating

studio environment.

Everyone must learn to express his or

her ideas visually and not be afraid to

express their ideas using these

communication devices.

Evaluation

From Thomke’s paper, entitled

“Enlightened Experimentation”: “IDEO

Advocates the development of cheap,

rough prototypes that people are

invited to criticize—a process that

eventually leads to better products.”

Evaluation establishes how much you

have accomplished and maps or

benchmarks where you still need to go

in the design process. It is not about

assessing quality, it is about hitting

the mark, “getting it right,” or lining up

your understanding with your

outcomes of design actions. Evaluation

techniques in the studio are

accomplished by critiques and

discussion sessions. These sessions

point out many things about the

design that hit the mark in regard to

solving a problem or innovating a new

product or feature. From Hargadon and

Sutton: “Brokers also benefit from

failures because, in learning about

why an idea failed, they get hints

about problems the idea might solve

someday.” Making action plans from

the discussion data is important to

rediscover where the design will go in

the next iteration and recognize where

more understanding needs to be

discovered.

The Place

Over my long career as a designer and

educator, I cannot stress enough how

important it is to have the correct

environment in order for design

innovation to take place. One must

properly prepare the garden to

cultivate design action. Again from

Hargadon and Sutton’s paper “Building

an Innovation Factory”: “Many brokers

also use a physical layout that enables

[perhaps “forces” is a better word]

such interaction.”… “All of Thomas

Edison’s inventors at the Menlo Park

Laboratory in New Jersey worked in

a single large room where, as one put

it, ‘we are all interested in what we

were doing and what others were

doing.’” And, “Company-wide

gatherings, formal brainstorming

sessions, and informal hallway

conversations are just some of the

venues where people share their

problems and solutions.”

Two Models for

Implementation: A Single

Course and a Minor Course

Offering

I propose that the single instructional

model works well for those students

who have an interest but cannot work

a minor into their tight curriculum

schedule. This one course will be an

experiential snapshot of the design

process. My experience has shown

that this type of course may lead

many toward a decision to minor in

design and may even lead some to

switching professional programs to

industrial design.

Snapshot of a sixteen-week

course module:

• Weeks one and two—What is

design and product innovation?

• Weeks three, four, and five—

Design understanding

• Weeks six, seven, eight, nine—

Design action (making things)

• Week ten—Evaluation and making

an action plan

• Week eleven—More understanding

• Weeks twelve and thirteen—Action

(redesign)

• Week fourteen—Evaluation

• Week fifteen—Presentation

preparation

• Week sixteen—Final course

presentation

Snapshot of an eight-course

minor:

• Introduction to Design and Design

History

• Design Methods, Research, and

Professional Practices

• Drawing and Visual Communication

Practices Studio

• Three-Dimensional Modeling Studio

and Human Factors

• Computer Modeling

• Introduction to Studio Practices

• Product Design Studio

• Interdisciplinary Project Studio

Conclusion

Design professionals realize that the

action of creating visual artifacts to

create innovative products becomes

second nature. Most important is

what is experienced by activities in a

design studio—making numerous

artifacts in an interactive process,

accomplished while interacting with

other designers. Quality design

12 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


education is based on this core

assumption and is what gives us the

ability to envision and produce

products from understanding. For

others to enjoy the qualities of good

design, they must experience this

phenomenon themselves, firsthand in

a studio experience led by design or

technical educators.

Cooper Interaction. www.cooper.com

Dresselhaus, Bill. (2001). ROI: Return on

Innovation.

Hargadon, Andrew, & Sutton, Robert I.

(2001). Building an Innovation Factory.

Harvard Business Review on Innovation.

Thomke, Stefan. (2001). Enlightened

Experimentation: The New Imperative

for Innovation. Harvard Business

Review on Breakthrough Thinking.

Goodheart-Willcox.................9

Hearlihy & Company............36

Master Visions.....................37

NCETE..................................36

References

Corporate Design Foundation.

www.cdf.org/frameset.html

Design Management Institute.

www.dmi.org/dmi/html/index.htm

Center for Innovation in Product

Development.

http://web.mit.edu/cipd/education/

undergraduate.htm

Carnegie Mellon University—Integrated

product development course.

www.cdf.org/frameset.html

James Kaufman,

IDSA is Professor

of Design at The

Ohio State

University,

Columbus, Ohio.

He can be reached

via e-mail at

Kaufman.9@

OSU.edu.

AD INDEX

NSTA/NASA ........................13

Pearson Prentice Hall...........34

Printed Circuits Corp............35

Solidworks .........................C-2

Tech Ed Concepts................22

Utah State University ..........36

WAMC Northeast

Public Radio.......................37

IDSA

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 13


RESOURCES IN TECHNOLOGY

BIOPROSPECTING

Philip A. Reed

The product applications of bioprospecting are almost limitless.

RESOURCES IN TECHNOLOGY

The gold rush is on! No, prospectors

are not scrambling for the precious

metal in northern California circa the

1840s. The new rush involves the

collection of biological materials, and

the prospectors are biologists,

chemists, and corporations. This area

of biotechnology has been labeled

bioprospecting, and it is a practice that

is creating worldwide controversy.

Defined simply, bioprospecting is

“scientific research that looks for a

useful application, process, or product

in nature” (National Park Service,

2004). However, as with most

biotechnologies, the definition does

not address the complexities of

bioprospecting. The history, regulations,

and products associated with

bioprospecting can help us understand

these complexities.

History of Bioprospecting

Humans have always looked for plants

and animals they could use to make

life easier. However, they discovered

that certain foods and beasts of

burden could be used for more than

basic subsistence. Archeologists are

finding that some biotechnologies,

such as the use of herbs for medicine

and the use of fermentation and yeast

in food products, date back 5,000 to

10,000 years (De Miranda, 2004).

Many of the historical uses of

enzymes, proteins, and other

biological materials have been

understood by scientists, physicians,

and nutritionists for quite some time,

while others are still being discovered.

For example, eating chicken soup to

Figure 1: Thermus aquaticus, a bacterium found in Yellowstone National Park, produces an

enzyme, polymerase, that is vital to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) DNA fingerprinting. PCR

fingerprinting is widely used by criminal investigators, hospitals, and other researchers.

suppress a cold has been advocated

by caring mothers for generations, but

it wasn’t until 1993 that scientific

evidence supported this claim

(Discover, 1993).

Genetic engineering and other

scientific and technological advances

are continually giving us a deeper

understanding of the natural world.

We are not only learning how chicken

broth interacts with enzymes in the

body, but we are also still discovering

new organisms. Where do these

organisms come from and who owns

them?

The National Park Service has faced

these questions and responded with

mixed results. In the 1960s a

bacterium was found in the hot

springs of Yellowstone that has been

key in the production of one of the

most important enzymes in molecular

biology (Figure 1). The applications

stemming from Thermus aquaticus

(Taq) draw in hundreds of millions of

dollars annually.

Unfortunately, the National Park

Service did not require a contract with

the researcher who discovered Taq,

so none of the application revenues

14 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


are flowing back to Yellowstone. To

get in on the gold rush, the National

Parks Omnibus Management Act of

1998 was created to help the National

Park Service contract with

bioprospectors. Specifically, the act

allows for benefits-sharing agreements

“between researchers, their

institutions or companies, and the

National Park Service that return

benefits to the park when the results

of cooperative research lead to the

development of something that is

commercially valuable” (National Park

Service, 2004).

Do not worry; benefits sharing does

not open the parks for large-scale

mining or other environmental

damage. One of the key points of

bioprospecting is that most samples

fit in a vial and are microscopic.

Benefits sharing is a way to keep our

natural parks pristine while potentially

providing funding for their upkeep.

The obvious attraction to the national

parks is the abundance of specimens;

however, bioprospectors are also lured

by extremophiles. Extremophiles are

organisms that live in some of the

harshest environments on earth. Taq,

for example, was found in the hot

springs of Yellowstone and thrives in

temperatures up to 76.67° Celsius

(170° Fahrenheit). Many of these

hardy organisms are single-cell

creatures that prosper in protected

environments such as very alkaline or

acidic water, tar pits, magma, and

even the cold of Antarctica.

Extremophiles are typically classified

according to the environment in which

they live:

• Thermophile: An organism having

a growth temperature optimum of

50°C (122° Fahrenheit) or higher. In

the case of hyperthermophiles the

optimum may be between 80°C and

110°C (176°-230° Fahrenheit).

• Halophile: An organism requiring at

least 0.2 M (3-30%) salt for growth.

• Psychrophile: An organism having

a growth temperature optimum of

15°C (59° Fahrenheit) or lower,

(some can survive at –10°C [14°

Fahrenheit]), and are unable to

grow above 20°C (68° Fahrenheit).

• Alkaliphile: An organism with

optimal growth at pH values above

10.

• Acidophile: An organism with a pH

optimum for growth at, or below,

pH 2.

• Piezophile: (previously termed

barophile) An organism that lives

optimally at high hydrostatic

pressure (Maloney, 2004).

These organisms obviously do not just

reside in the United States. Global

controversies over who has the right

to biological materials are taking place

in the United Nations and the world

courts. To address this, many

countries and organizations are

involved in establishing new

regulatory practices.

Regulations

Different cultures and regions of the

world have created different regulatory

methods for biotechnology. The United

States and Canada have developed a

product-based process of regulating

biotechnology. This approach places

existing organizations, such as the

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

(USFDA) and the U.S. Patent &

Trademark Office (USPTO), in charge

of oversight (Figure 2). Certain

exceptions are made for very

controversial processes like the U.S.

ban on human cloning.

In the European Union, however, they

primarily utilize a process-based

approach for regulation. The European

culture overwhelmingly resists

biotechnology because they do not

want to take unknown risks—

especially in the area of genetic

engineering. Therefore, the European

Union has created strong regulations

that restrict the most basic levels

(processes) of biotechnology (Morris,

1995).

Ironically, the northern hemisphere

has been the most proactive in

regulating biotechnology, but it is the

southern hemisphere that faces the

greatest threats of bioprospecting. The

abundance of raw materials is inviting

for bioprospectors, and the nature of

third world and developing nations is

inviting for biopirates. Biopiracy or

Figure 2: The U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,

and the Department of Health and Human Services, USFDA have teamed to create a

database that assesses the risk of new genetically engineered crop plants

(http://usbiotechreg.nbii.gov/database_pub.asp).

RESOURCES IN TECHNOLOGY

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 15


RESOURCES IN TECHNOLOGY

biocolonialism is used to describe

the exploitation of these nations’

resources for financial gain (Rifkin,

1998).

In any gold rush there are unscrupulous

characters. In California, Sam

Brannan became extremely wealthy

by running through the streets and

yelling that he had found gold.

Although he had a small sample in his

hand, Brannan planned to make

money from other prospectors, not

panning. Brannan had purchased all of

the shovels and other panning

equipment in the area. Biopiracy is

just as deceptive but is primarily

attempted by large multi-national

corporations—sometimes without a

nation’s consent.

At the beginning of the bioprospecting

rush, companies hurried to collect

samples and applied for patents.

Fortunately, courts and regulatory

agencies have, for the most part,

taken a tough line on biopiracy. The

general consensus is that if a

biological material has not been

altered or used in a novel way (i.e.

new industrial process), then it does

not constitute intellectual property

(IP). Patent policy has been shaped by

these rulings, and attempts to claim

herbs and homeopathic remedies used

for centuries by natives have been

significantly slowed by this stance

(Graham, 2002).

Organizations have also stepped in to

help third world and developing

nations. The United Nations educates

third world and developing nations in a

number of ways. The United Nations

University, Institute for Advanced

Studies (UNU/IAS) regularly publishes

reports and presents regional

seminars to teach these nations how

to manage their resources. Topics

include overviews of the biotechnology

industry, safety,

intellectual property, and methods

for negotiating with bioprospectors.

From Raw Materials to

Finished Products

By manipulating proteins, using

enzymes, and altering genes—the

basic building blocks of life—we can

use natural materials in a variety of

ways. To learn how these building

blocks are used, it is helpful to

organize them into groups. The four

main categories of biotechnologies are

agriculture, pharmaceutical,

environmental, and industrial (De

Miranda, 2004).

Agricultural biotechnologies are

arguably the oldest and most widely

used. Rather than traditional methods

of animal husbandry and seed

selection, however, newer methods

are more controlled. For example,

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a

bacterium that was initially

prospected from flower moths and

used as an insecticide. However,

agriculture companies now engineer

strains of Bt into crops such as corn,

potatoes, cotton, and soybeans

(Figure 3). These crops target a

specific pest and are formulated so

they do not damage other insects. One

potential drawback, however, is that

the prolonged exposure may

eventually lead to insect resistance of

the toxins.

Pharmaceutical companies are

investing heavily in bioprospecting. In

one example, heavyweights Pfizer,

Pharmacia, and Upjohn have all

invested in a firm (Incyte) that

allegedly contains a database of nearly

100,000 genes (Rifkin, 1998). When

you consider that over half of the

cancer drugs approved by the U.S.

Food and Drug Administration are of

natural origin or are modeled on

natural products, you can see why the

pharmaceutical companies are

progressive bioprospectors.

Surfactants (Surface active agents)

are a significant environmental

bioprospecting achievement.

Surfactants are wetting agents that

help with the spreading of liquids. If

you have ever read the label on your

laundry detergent, you have probably

seen surfactants as an ingredient.

Surfactants are also used for the

extraction of oil. Researchers have

prospected microorganisms from

wells and used them in various

mixtures to obtain oil. These

surfactant “cocktails” drastically

increase output because most oil is

Figure 3: Crops modified with Bt toxins offer protection against pests that target

roots, foliage, or bore. Traditional pesticides are sprayed on and generally only

protect crop foliage.

16 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


contained in small interconnected

pockets rather than large open pools

(Morris, 1995).

Bioprospectors have found

tremendous industrial applications,

especially in the form of chemicals.

Various fungi, bacteria, and other

microbes are often used to create

industrial chemicals. Several common

chemical examples and their microbial

sources include acetic acid

(acetobacter), acetone (clostridium),

and ethanol (saccharomyces)

(Barnum, 1998).

Summary

Bioprospecting is a very old biotechnology

that involves some very

new techniques. Genetic engineering

and other processes allow biologists,

chemists, and biotechnologists to

collect microorganisms and change

them in ways that previously were not

possible. Organisms that thrive under

adverse conditions, extremophiles, are

highly sought after and have a wide

range of applications.

Early bioprospectors tried to exploit

the nations of the southern

hemisphere because they contain an

abundance of natural materials. World

courts, regulatory agencies, and other

organizations have helped shape

policies and continue to work on

equitable policies that allow benefitsharing

of natural resources.

The product applications of

bioprospecting are almost limitless.

Products and processes that stem

from bioprospecting are already

abundant in areas of agriculture,

pharmaceutical, environmental, and

industrial biotechnology.

Table 1:

Extremophiles and their applications (Maloney, 2004).

Thermophiles & Hyperthermophiles

DNA polymerases

Lipases, pullulanases, and proteases

Amylases

Xylanases

Halophiles

Bacteriorhodopsin

Lipids

Compatible solutes e.g. Ectoin

γ-Linoleic acid, β-carotene, and cell extracts, e.g. Spirulina

and Dunaliella

Psychrophiles

Alkaline phosphatase

Proteases, lipases, cellulases, and amylases

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

Ice nucleating proteins

Alkaliphiles & Acidophiles

Proteases, cellulases, lipases, and pullulanases

Elastases, keritinases

Cyclodextrins

Acidophiles

Sulphur oxidizing acidophiles

Acidophiles

Applications

DNA amplification by PCR

Detergents

Baking and brewing

Paper bleaching

Applications

Optical switches and photocurrent generators

Liposomes for drug delivery and cosmetics

Protein, DNA, and cell protectants

Health foods, dietary supplements, food colouring, and

feedstock

Applications

Molecular biology

Detergents

Food additives, dietary supplements

Artificial snow, food industry e.g. ice cream

Applications

Detergents

Hide de-hairing

Foodstuffs, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals

Fine papers, waste treatment, and de-gumming

Recovery of metals and de-sulphurication of coal

Organic acids and solvents

RESOURCES IN TECHNOLOGY

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 17


RESOURCES IN TECHNOLOGY

Class Activity: Become A

Savvy Bioconsumer

Standards for Technological Literacy

(ITEA, 2000/2002) explains the

importance of bio-related technologies

with regard to technological literacy.

Unfortunately, the study of biotechnology

at the secondary level

within the United States is almost

non-existent (Sanders, 2001). Perhaps

this is because areas such as modern

bioprospecting are evolving at a rapid

pace. Another reason might be the

complex relationships that make up

the field of biotechnology (i.e.

interaction of agriculture, biology,

chemistry, medicine, and engineering).

The two following activities are

designed to help teachers and

students learn how bio-related

technologies are used commercially.

Product labels do not often list

specific organisms because many

times the ingredients are proprietary.

Therefore, you must develop a

different set of bioprospecting skills by

using research to learn about these

products and processes. Have fun

digging!

1. Review Table 1 and search for

products that fit one or more of the

descriptions in the applications

column. Try to determine which

extremophile(s) were used in the

product or manufacturing process.

For example, Shout ® Gel is a

laundry detergent that uses

enzymes to remove stains from

clothing. This means it probably

incorporates alkaliphiles,

acidophiles, and/or thermophiles

either directly in the product or the

extremophiles were used during

manufacture of the product.

Learning about these organisms

will not only help you with

important things like removing

tough grass stains; it will greatly

increase your technological literacy

in the area of bio-related

technologies!

2. Visit the United States Regulatory

Agencies Unified Biotechnology

Web site that is highlighted in

Figure 2. Search the database for

genetically-modified crop plants.

Brand names are typically not

provided, but the database lists

manufacturers and describes

product traits. As you review this

database and manufacturers’ Web

sites you will learn how

bioprospectors alter biological

material for use in products. For

example, Monsanto’s Roundup

Ready® line of seeds makes the

plants in that line more receptive to

Roundup Ultra® herbicide.

Monsanto has altered a gene to be

“herbicide tolerant” rather than

making the plant stronger via the

traditional method of crosspollination.

The benefits are

stronger plants and greater yields,

but a drawback is the continued

dependence on herbicide.

References

Barnum, S. R. (1998). Biotechnology: An

introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth

Publishing Company.

De Miranda, M. A. (2004). Ethical issues in

biotechnology. In R. B. Hill (Ed.) Council

on Technology Teacher Education

Yearbook: Volume 53. Ethics for

citizenship in a technological world.

Peoria, IL: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.

Discover. (1993). For this you need an

M.D.? (chicken soup proven effective

against cold and flu). New York, NY:

The Walt Disney Company.

Graham, J. R. (2002). Bioprospecting or

biopiracy? Fraser Forum, December, 19-

20. Retrieved September 28, 2004 from

www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/ch

apterfiles/Bioprospecting or Biopiracy-

Graham.pdf#

International Technology Education

Association (ITEA). (2000/2002).

Standards for technological literacy:

Content for the study of technology.

Reston, VA: Author.

Malony, S. (2004). Extremophiles:

Bioprospecting for antimicrobials.

Antiviral Chemistry and Chemotherapy,

August. Retrieved September 28, 2004

from www.mediscover.net/

Extremophiles.cfm

Morris, B. (1995). Biotechnology. Hong

Kong, China: Cambridge University

Press.

National Park Service. (2004). Benefits

sharing in the national parks:

Environmental impact statement.

Retrieved September 28, 2004 from

www.nature.nps.gov/benefitssharing/in

dex.htm

Rifkin, J. (1998). The biotech century. New

York, NY: Penguin Putnam, Inc.

Sanders, M. E. (2001). New paradigm or

old wine? The status of technology

education in the United States.

Retrieved September 28, 2004 from

http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JTE/

v12n2/sanders.html

Philip A. Reed,

Ph.D. is an assistant

professor in the

Darden College of

Education at Old

Dominion University

in Norfolk, VA. He

can be reached via

e-mail at

preed@odu.edu.

18 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


ROBOTS RECRUIT TOMORROW’S ENGINEERS

Cheryl Cobb

The United States has long enjoyed a

position of technological leadership on

the world stage. But declining interest

in careers such as engineering

threatens to undermine that position.

Currently, only five percent of US

students choose to pursue degrees in

engineering and the sciences—

compared with 30 percent in China.

In an effort to reverse this trend,

educators are calling in the robots.

BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science

and Technology) links educators with

industry to provide middle and high

school students with a glimpse of the

exciting world of robotics, with the

goal of inspiring and interesting them

in engineering, math, and science

careers. “BEST helps students get

excited about technological careers at

an age when they are making

secondary school course choices,”

says Janice Borland, science

department chair and BEST robotics

coach at Austin Academy for

Excellence in Garland, Texas. “If

students aren’t exposed to these sorts

of programs early, it may be more

difficult for them to decide to pursue

the advanced curriculum pathways in

math and science that help ensure

success in higher education such as

engineering.”

This year, 6,500 students from more

than 600 high schools and middle

schools will compete at 26 BEST sites

in 10 states. The students have six

weeks to design and build a remotecontrolled

robot from a sponsorprovided

kit of standardized parts that

consists of returnable materials such

as remote controllers, as well as other

items such as plywood, hardware, and

PVC pipe. Some teams compete only

in the robotics competition; others

In 2002, interest in pursuing a career in

engineering increased 25 percent as a result

of the [BEST] program.

choose also to compete for the BEST

Award that encompasses performance

on the game field as well as

performance in communications,

spirit, and sportsmanship. Teams vary

in size from 10 to more than 50

students.

Making a Difference

BEST attracts a wide variety of

students—from techies to motorheads

to communicators to artists—many

who would otherwise have passed

A BEST Robotics Competitor.

one another without talking in the

school hallways. According to

teachers, BEST makes a real

difference in the lives of many of its

students. When Carlos Castillo first

signed up for Sandra Schulz’s art

class, he was a good but somewhat

disinterested student with little

direction. He started to come by

occasionally after school to watch the

BEST robotics team Schulz advises

and eventually became a regular. The

team gave Castillo a focus, helping

him to graduate first in his class. He

FEATURE ARTICLE

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 19


detailed specifications that include

size and weight limits. “Students learn

that it takes many people working

together to pull off a complex project,”

says Cox. “This real-world approach—

from fundraising to design to

production to marketing to public

relations—adds a great deal of

excitement to the project.”

It’s an excitement that George Blanks

and Mary Lou Howard, South’s BEST

Regional Robotics Championship

co-directors, work hard to build

throughout the contest, which is held

at Auburn University, in Auburn,

Alabama. In 2003, that meant a

fanciful, lighted game floor designed

and built by Auburn University

architecture students. Music filled the

coliseum as student volunteers from

the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

and the College of Sciences

and Mathematics worked the crowd

to build excitement.

Robots earn points by successfully

completing specific tasks as they

navigate the game floor. Four teams

compete at a time in a series of threeminute

matches. The excitement

builds as the highest point total teams

advance to championship rounds

consisting of four three-minute

matches. “From start to finish, we

never forget that the students involved

are middle and high school students,”

says Howard, director of outreach for

the College of Sciences and Mathematics.

“Our goal is to ensure that the

students are having fun while they are

learning.”

FEATURE ARTICLE

The “fanciful, lighted game floor.”

currently attends the University of

Texas, majoring in architectural

engineering.

“The robotics program has helped my

students learn more about engineering,

physics, math, research, and

presentation skills than any other

program in our school,” says Schulz,

who teaches at Thomas Jefferson

High School in Dallas. “It exposes

them to adult engineering role models,

deadlines, and professionalism in a

way that is fun, exciting, and exhilarating.

My kids form a bond like no

other group at school,” she continues.

“They become a very tight-knit family

that watches out for one another, helps

tutor one another, and acts as peer

counselors when things get tough.”

That exposure to teamwork is one of

the reasons industry has embraced

the BEST program. Team mentors,

recruited from area businesses, are a

crucial element of the program’s

success. “Our company participates

for a number of reasons,” says

Michael Wienen, Brazos BEST Co-

Chair, from College Station, Texas.

“Students realize that succeeding in

engineering, science, or technologyrelated

disciplines will take a lot of

hard work. That can make engineering

a tough sell. This program aims to

show students that this learning

process can be fun. “We have a

vested interest in seeing that the best

and brightest students consider

engineering,” he continues. “They are

our future.”

Wienen explains that pre-event and

post-event participant surveys prove

that BEST works. In 2002, interest in

pursuing a career in engineering

increased 25 percent as a result of the

program. The numbers show that the

strength of this response is tied

closely to the level of mentor

interaction. “Our mentor was

awesome—not at all what I expected

an engineer to be like,” says Raju

Paka, a student at Vestavia High

School, in Birmingham, Alabama. “He

was really excited about engineering,

and that excitement rubbed off on all

of us. In fact, I’m now considering

Auburn University because I recently

learned that it is the only school in the

nation offering an undergraduate

degree in wireless engineering.”

Real-World Excitement

Stanhope Elmore High School teacher

Jennifer Cox, from Montgomery,

Alabama, believes that one of the

reasons the BEST competition is so

successful is it is designed to mirror a

real-world engineering production

project, complete with limited

resources, a tight deadline, and

Making It Accessible

The affordable nature of the

competition is another important

factor for many schools. There is no

registration fee for BEST, so the only

cost to the school is travel to the

competition site and supplies for the

BEST Award presentations and

displays. These costs range from $800

to $1,200 and are generally easily

covered by local sponsors. The game

floor and theme vary each year and

are kept secret until kick-off day when

20 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


the teams pick up their parts kits.

“BEST provides an affordable avenue

for schools to participate in robotics

competitions,” says Borland. “We

withdrew from another robotics

competition after six years because it

became financially unrealistic to

compete.” According to Blanks, the

goal is to reach a broad variety of

students, especially those in schools

that may not have the resources found

in some large suburban areas. “Our

goals are simple and our approach

straightforward,” he says.

That emphasis on the basics is what

makes the program work so well.

“BEST captures the essence of realworld

engineering,” says Randy

Ausbern, BEST mentor and systems

engineer with Lockheed Martin

Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth,

Texas. “It encourages analytical

thinking and the ability to focus on a

small part of a problem without

forgetting the big picture. Most realworld

engineering problems are

limited by timelines, a fixed budget, or

technology that prohibits us from

thinking too big,” he continues. “BEST

teaches students to think and be

creative within reasonable

boundaries.”

Blanks and Howard know that many

of the students who participate in the

program will choose careers other

than engineering, math, or the

sciences. However, they believe that

no matter what career students

choose, they will have benefited from

the program.

According to Wienen, nearly 70

percent of students believe that BEST

is a better learning tool than is offered

in the classroom. More than 80

percent indicate that they gain insight

into engineering as a profession that

they don’t get anywhere else. “In my

opinion, this program is the best thing

that has happened to education in a

very long time,” says Auburn High

School science teacher Stan

Arrington. “For an educational

program to generate the same level of

excitement as a sporting event is

unheard of. This program does that.”

Nearly 70% of students believe that BEST is a better learning tool than is offered in the

classroom.

One competitor navigates the game floor.

Cheryl Cobb is

Assistant Director in

the Office of

Communications and

Marketing at the

Samuel Ginn College

of Engineering,

Auburn University,

Alabama. She can be

reached via e-mail at

ccobb@eng.auburn.edu.

FEATURE ARTICLE

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 21


FEATURE ARTICLE

THE BIRTH OF BEST

Fun and excitement is exactly what BEST founders and Texas Instruments engineers

Ted Mahler and Steve Marum had in mind when they created the program. While

watching a video of students building a robot at a corporate engineering day, both

were struck by how excited the students were. Mahler and Marum approached

management with a proposal to start a local hands-on robotics program aimed at

high school students.

Texas Instruments agreed to pilot the project. After learning about a similar program

at Texas A&M, Mahler and Marum arranged a competition, and BEST was born. By

2001, BEST had expanded to 20 regional competition hubs in eight states involving

400 teams and thousands of students. Alabama BEST, based at Auburn University,

was one of the newest and fastest growing of these hubs.

By 2003, the program had grown so fast it was split into two units—finals for teams

west of the Mississippi remained in Texas; teams east of the Mississippi would head

for Auburn and the new South’s BEST finals.

“BEST has taken off like a shot,” says Blanks, director of business and engineering

continuing education for AU’s Ginn College of Engineering. “I’ve been involved in

outreach programs for many years and have never experienced anything like this.

Representatives from state departments of education in 10 states—ranging from

Massachusetts to Michigan to Ohio to Georgia—have approached us about making

BEST a part of their curricula.”

In 2004, approximately 165 teams—more than 3,500 students—from nine hubs in

seven states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana will advance to the

South’s BEST Robotics Championship. “I first attended Alabama BEST in 2002 and

was blown away by the energy,” says Gail Morrow, an education specialist in career

technologies with the Alabama State Department of Education’s Technical Education

Department. “It’s hard to get students interested in taking that extra calculus or

physics class. This program opens the door. I couldn’t wait to get back to the office

to begin to figure out a way to make this program available to more students.”

Blanks points out that BEST has also generated strong interest from other engineering

institutions and corporate sponsors interested in hosting and supporting

competitions. NASA has signed on, and this year its Space Flight Center in Huntsville

will host the Tennessee Valley BEST competition, joining the ranks of Johnson Space

Flight Center in Houston that has been a BEST hub for eight years. In fact, it was

corporate sponsor Alabama Power/Southern Company that provided the initial

funding Blanks and Howard needed to jumpstart the program in Alabama. The

company remains a strong financial supporter; they also supply mentors and judges

for the competition. “We are proud of the part we played in getting Alabama BEST off

the ground,” explains Paula Marino, manager of environment and retrofit projects—

Alabama Power projects, for Southern Company. “We hire a lot of engineers. The

success of our company depends on having a good pool of qualified individuals to

choose from. The program is a perfect match for us. BEST fosters student interest

in math and science, which can open the door to careers in engineering,” she

continues. “I am particularly impressed that BEST works to bring the program to

all schools—including rural and inner city systems. We value diversity, and this

program reaches out to a broad spectrum of students.”

The South’s BEST is hosted by Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of

Engineering and the College of Sciences and Mathematics. To learn more about

the South’s BEST contact George Blanks at (334) 844-5759 or at

blankgw@eng.auburn.edu, or log on to the BEST Web site at: www.best.org/.

22 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


STEM INITIATIVES

STIMULATING STUDENTS TO IMPROVE SCIENCE AND

MATHEMATICS ACHIEVEMENT

Robert Q. Berry, III

Philip A. Reed

John M. Ritz, DTE

Cheng Y. Lin

Steve Hsiung

Wendy Frazier

Teachers and subject matter

specialists are concerned with

improving students’ performance

during standards testing. Initiatives

have been undertaken at the local,

state, and national levels in attempts

to better enable learners to master

new knowledge and perform complex

tasks. Curriculum developers and

researchers are interested in contextualizing

learning situations to

associate students with the utility of

what one is learning. Transfer learning

is being explored within the realm of

problem solving and engineering

applications. This makes a strong

case for the integration of science,

technology, and mathematics, so

students can improve their

understanding and application of

complex but usable knowledge.

Learning theorists believe that, through

designed learning environments

(contexts) and learning with hands-on

projects, new knowledge can not only

be learned, but learned in such a way

that the knowledge can be transferred

for other applications (Singley &

Anderson, 1989). Student interest and

motivation can also be piqued through

hands-on learning.

Scholars in the applied sciences

(school science, technology, and

mathematics) believe that these

subjects have transfer among

Concepts in science, technology education,

and mathematics show powerful relationships

when it comes to student learning. By

using the context of engineering, additional

meaning can be brought to the curriculum

and student learning and achievement.

themselves and that engineering

activities can establish the contexts to

learn these subjects, plus aid in the

transfer of knowledge. This

collaborative movement is referred to

as STEM—integrating instruction in

science, technology education,

engineering, and mathematics. It has

been a focus of National Science

Foundation research on learning and

student career choices in the sciences

and engineering.

According to American Society for

Mechanical Engineering:

There appears to be a logical

educational continuum within

which the knowledge of science,

technology, engineering, and

mathematics is cumulative. This

implies that, without a strong and

vibrant K-12 education system, the

potential educational and economic

impact is severely diminished.

Yet…the cumulative benefits of

science, technology, engineering,

and mathematics are less than

they could be (ASME Position

Statement – 2002, ID #2-32,

www.asme/org/gric/ps/2002/02-

32.html, March 24, 2004).

Through academic collaborations of

mathematics, science, and technology

education in a contextual engineering

environment, programs should:

1. Build cumulative STEM

competencies in students by

building on the foundation of

knowledge established at each

level in education, from elementary

grades where students have innate

curiosity about their world and how

it works through middle school,

high school, and beyond.

2. Provide students with hands-on,

open-ended, real-world problemsolving

experiences that are linked

to the curriculum, using science,

engineering, and technology

modules, and grouping such

experiences and modules by

discipline and level of difficulty.

3. Promote hands-on activities for

students, including researchoriented

classes…appealing to

students through authentic

[contextual] research projects that

emphasize the use of mathematics

in reporting results, and promoting

engineering and technology…in

high school (ASME Position

FEATURE ARTICLE

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 23


FEATURE ARTICLE

Statement – 2002, ID #2-32,

www.asme.org/gric/ps/2002/02-

32.html, March 24, 2004).

STEM is recognized in the science,

education, and engineering professions

and their associated research

societies. It is a unique way to map

curriculum and attempt to build and

strengthen student skills in those

subjects that can lead to scientific and

technological career pursuits. This is

the authors’ intent with this writing.

We wish to show how the school

subjects of science, technology

education, and mathematics can be

taught in collaboration and use

engineering concepts and activities to

motivate students to succeed.

Science, technology education, and

mathematics have had standards

developed by their professions and

endorsed by such prestigious

organizations as the National

Academies of Science and Engineering.

Teachers, textbook writers,

and educational hardware and

software companies are using these

standards. They also serve as the

basis for state standards tests. For

more information on the national

standards, conduct a Web search for

National Science Education Standards

(1996), Standards for Technological

Literacy: Content for the Study of

Technology (2000/2002), and

Principles and Standards for School

Mathematics, (2000).

Subject Integration and

Support

Many school systems are requiring

the study of algebra in the ninth grade.

For this and other reasons, the authors

decided to work with the subjects of

earth science, algebra, and

foundations of technology and use

engineering concepts and activities to

create standards-based learning

activities. The authors will show how

we have used contextual learning and

concept mapping to assist us in our

endeavors.

Contextual Learning

The predominant view of learning

today posits that “people construct

new knowledge and understandings

based on what they already know and

believe” (Bransford, Brown, &

Cocking, 1999, p. 10). This philosophy,

known as constructivism, is

based on the foundations laid by John

Dewey, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky,

and other educators. Constructivist

teachers actively engage students in a

variety of ways. In fact, national

research on recognized mathematics

and science teachers show that they

utilize five strategies:

• Relating – learning in the context of

one’s life experiences or preexisting

knowledge.

• Experiencing – learning by doing, or

through exploration, discovery, and

invention.

• Applying – learning by putting the

concepts to use.

Figure 1. Concept Map of a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Activity

24 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


• Cooperating – learning in the

context of sharing, responding, and

communicating with other learners.

• Transferring – using knowledge in a

new context or novel situation—

one that has not been covered in

class (Crawford, 2001, p. iii).

The Center for Occupational Research

and Development (CORD) identified

these five strategies (REACT) as

contextual learning strategies because

they help teachers put teaching and

learning into context. CORD has

developed a series of resources on

contextual learning that are researchbased

and include classroom lessons

(see CORD, 1999a and b).

The first two REACT strategies are the

most important and lie at the root of

constructivist methodology. If

students do not relate learning to

existing knowledge and experiences,

then higher levels of learning will be

difficult to achieve. Applying,

cooperating, and transferring are the

three levels that STEM initiatives

unite. Concept mapping illustrates

these REACT strategies in a visual

manner that can help teachers plan for

instruction. See Figure 1.

Aligning and Integrating

Science, Technology

Education, and

Mathematics Content

Alignment of the standards in

Earth Science, Algebra, and the

technological literacy standards in

Foundations of Technology courses

illustrates the means through which

contextual learning can address

content standards in the three subject

areas. With respect to student

understanding of the origin and

evolution of the earth system, the

emphasis is on student understanding

of the ongoing dynamic equilibrium of

earth that results in both short-term

and long-term change on earth. Key

ideas include the relationship between

the dynamic crust and atmosphere,

the resulting environment, and the

environment’s impact on life.

Mathematics is key to students’

understanding of how the earth

originated and its change over time

through micro-scale activities, which

allow students to concretely explore

resulting phenomena within a

dynamic, evolving earth system.

Through micro-scale activities,

students quantify this change over

time, recognize patterns and relationships,

and come to understand that

mathematics can be a useful way of

representing ideas via functions that

can be graphed, charted, and

represented through other graphic

organizers. In this case, technology

education plays a pivotal role in terms

of data collection tools and aiding

humans in their understanding of the

dynamic earth so that informed

decisions can be made. An example of

a micro-scale activity related to the

dynamic earth is the design and

construction of structures capable of

surviving a simulated earthquake.

Through this engineering experience,

students learn not only the principles

of design and construction, but also

principles of earthquakes in terms of

wave and media properties that can

then be quantified at the micro-level

and extrapolated to decisions

regarding current and proposed

architectural plans.

As reviewed in this discussion,

concepts in science, technology

education, and mathematics show

powerful relationships when it comes

to student learning. With each of

these subjects, transfer learning is

very natural. By using the context of

engineering, additional meaning can

be brought to the curriculum and

student learning and achievement.

The Importance of

Engineering

Engineering is “the profession in

which knowledge of the mathematical

and natural sciences…are applied…to

develop ways to utilize, economically,

the materials and forces of nature for

the benefit of mankind” (ABET, 1979).

It can also be stated that engineering

is the means by which people make

possible the realization of human

dreams by extending our reach in the

real world (Babcock & Morse, 2002).

It is composed of multiple fields such

as electrical, mechanical, chemical,

civil, etc. engineering, which use

science, mathematics, and technology

to reach these outcomes. Engineers

are the practitioners of the art of

managing the application of science,

mathematics, and technology.

Integration of Science,

Technology, and

Mathematics through

Engineering Activities

There are two types of activities that

these authors have developed to

assist students in learning science,

technology education, and

mathematics content through

engineering activities. These include

introductory activities that are quick

and create excitement for the

upcoming unit of study. Some

disciplines refer to these as

experimenting activities. Again,

examples would include those

suggested in Table 1. An

experimenting activity for earthquakes

could be breaking a candy bar, such

as a Milky Way, by pushing it

together or twisting it. This would

show how the earth layers are moved

by such forces.

The second type of activities that we

suggest is unit or applying activities.

These take longer to develop and for

students to participate in their

completion. In this article, we have

developed a unit activity that used a

constructed device to measure the

effects of earthquakes on structures.

Earthquake Activity

The following unit, or applying activity,

is one sample of STEM initiatives

designed and developed for the

purpose of integrating science,

technology education, and

FEATURE ARTICLE

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 25


Table 1. Correlation of Standards for Earth Science, Algebra, and Foundations of Technology

Earth Science Algebra Foundations of Technology Sample STEM Activity

D.1 Energy in the Earth

System

A.1 Understand Patterns,

Relations, and Functions

D.2 Geochemical Cycles A.1 Understand Patterns,

Relations, and Functions

A.4 Analyze Change in

Various Contexts

16. Students will develop an

understanding of and be able

to select and use energy and

power technologies.

16.J Energy cannot be created

nor destroyed; however, it

can be converted from one

form to another.

3. Students will develop an

understanding of the relationships

among technologies

and the connections between

technology and other fields

of study.

3.J Technological progress

promotes the advancement

of science and mathematics.

Energy can be measured

over time, and rates of

change in temperature can

be measured in terms of the

variables that influence the

rate of change (for example,

wind. Students can cut paper

spirals and attach them to a

string. Use a flashlight to

produce heat to move the

spiral.)

Rate of change with respect

to changes that occur to elements

within the geochemical

cycle over time (for

example, rock cycle, which

describes the relationship

between different types of

rocks via applying pressure

and heat to corn starch

putty).

FEATURE ARTICLE

D.3 Origin and Evolution of

the Earth System

A.1 Understand Patterns,

Relations, and Functions

A.3 Use Mathematical

Models to Represent and

Understand Quantitative

Relationships

3.J Technological progress

promotes the advancement

of science and mathematics.

5. Students will develop an

understanding of the effects

of technology on the environment.

5.I With the aid of technology,

various aspects of

the environment can be

monitored to provide information

for decision-making.

Graphic representation of

rates of change with respect

to changes that occur to elements

within the geochemical

cycle over time (for

example, mass of sedimentary

rock via erosion through

chalk soaking in vinegar).

Rate of change as measured

by radioactive decay is

expressed exponentially (for

example, fossil dating).

Atmospheric and geological

data are used to determine

the age and history of the

earth based on reasonable

conclusions drawn from

quantitative measures and

are used to predict future

events (for example, rate of

sedimentation and layers of

rock or geologic events such

as earthquakes. Break layered

candy bars to simulate

the cracking of the earth’s

surface).

D.4 Origin and Evolution of

the Universe

A.3 Use Mathematical

Models to Represent and

Understand Quantitative

Relationships

3.J Technological progress

promotes the advancement

of science and mathematics.

5.I With the aid of technology,

various aspects of the

environment can be monitored

to provide information

for decision-making.

Space/Time data are used to

determine the age of the universe

based on reasonable

conclusions drawn from

quantitative measures (for

example, measure of expansion

of a substance containing

raisins).

Note: Numbers have been assigned to standards for communication purposes. The Standards for Technological Literacy document (ITEA,

2000/2002) has assigned these numbers.

26 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


mathematics through different handson

engineering activities to improve

learners’ understanding and interest in

science. It is the result of science,

mathematics, and technology

educators working with engineers to

show how engineering can synthesize

the academic content so important to

helping students make reality out of

theoretical knowledge.

Engineering Project:

Earthquake Simulation – Measurement

and Prevention

Goal: Experiment/learn the effect that

earthquake displacement and its

resulting twist angles have on building

structures and resulting destruction.

Activity:

1. Construct the testing apparatus

using the pictures (Figures 2 and 3)

and materials list.

2. Use K’NEX Primer Set to construct

three different shapes of building

structures (three stories and a base

size of 6”).

3. Obtain different linear plots until

the destruction of these three

shapes occurs.

a. Place one or two food cans

inside the top of the structure.

b. Pull the moving table in X or Y

directions to a recorded

displacement value (inch units),

then let the bungee cords

retract and bounce the moving

table.

i. Allow for three tries each or

until the structures collapse.

ii. Obtain three plots of the

linear displacement for

reliability.

iii. Obtain different twisted

angular plots until the

destruction of these three

shapes (pull base to 45

degrees and to distinct

retraceable routes).

4. Determine the strength of different

shapes of the structures vs.

different displacements and twist

angles.

5. Predict and recommend the shapes

vs. earthquake destruction

(construct hypotheses).

Science Relationship: Origin and

Evolution of Earth Systems

Technology Education Relationship:

Design, Construction Technology

Math Relationship: Equality,

Inequality, Statistics

Suggested Experiment/Construction

Material List:

1. 1 plywood base - 3 ⁄4” x 4’ x 4’

2. 1 plywood section for moving

table - 1 ⁄2” x 10” x 10”

3. 4 pieces of wood to form the

sides of the moving table - 1” x

2”x 10”

4. 4 pieces of wood to form the

sides of the base frame - 1” x 6”

x 4’

5. 8 eye hooks for elastic bungee

connection

6. 4 bungee cords for elastic

bouncing

7. 3 ball casters to support moving

table

8. 2 holding mechanisms to support

the plotting pens’ position (holes

through the supported platform

will do, but a top needs to be in

place to hold the pens down)

9. 1 K’NEX Primer Set for structure

construction or other construction

sets, i.e., Lego

10. 2 regular pens for tracing

displacement recordings

11. White card stock for padding the

tracing table

12. Several graphing sheets for

recording the moving table traces

13. Wood screws for construction

14. Two different-sized unopened

food cans for structure

destruction tests (Resemble

elevators, water tower, or boilers

within the building)

Material Cost: Approximately $40.00

from local home center

Figures 2 and 3 present the fully

assembled and constructed earthquake

simulation platform and moving table with

plot pen-holding mechanisms.

Figure 2. Platform, Moving Table, and

Structure

Figure 3. Moving Table and Plot Pen

Holders

The Calculations and

Hypotheses

The plot pen holder mechanism

designed for this experimental moving

table can be easily substituted with a

90 0 angle made of wood (Figure 3). A

regular ball pen with spring tension

that is adjustable with a collar and

setscrew will provide enough tension

for better plotting on the moving

traces.

The moving plots presented in Figures

6 and 8 are hand re-traces of the

original table movements for better

visibility. The linear displacement plots

(Figure 5) have equal lengths in the X

and Y axes. This means there is no

twist angle involved. The twist

displacement plots (Figures 6 and 7)

have different lengths in both the X

and Y axes. This means there is a

degree of twist angle involved.

According to the experimentations,

the most destructive damage to the

simulated building structure is the

FEATURE ARTICLE

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 27


FEATURE ARTICLE

Figures 4 and 5 show a linear movement of X or Y-axes plots during an earthquake

simulation.

Figure 4. Table Linear Displacement

Figures 6 and 7 show the curved movement of X and Y-axes displacement plots that

produce twist angles on the Z-axis during an earthquake simulation.

Figure 6. Table Twist Displacement

movement with twist angles. The

force displacement is based on the

calculation: F (Force) = K (Bungee

Cord Spring Constant) x X

(Displacement); and the energy

calculation is based on: K (Kinetic

Energy) = ? K (Bungee Cord Spring

Constant) x X 2 (Displacement 2 ) (Hu,

Liu, & Dong, 1996). Due to the design

constraint, the twist angle in this

simulation does not include the up and

down motion (Z axis). There are twist

angles on X, Y, and Z-axes, and any

combination of those create the

harshest damages from natural

earthquakes on buildings.

Summary

Activities can be used to increase

students’ understanding of knowledge

in science, technology education, and

mathematics. By using such activities,

students apply different intelligences.

Through hands-on learning using

engineering activities, students should

Figure 5. Linear Displacement Plots

Figure 7. Twist Angle Displacement

Plots

be able to gain more knowledge and

transfer this learning among school

subjects. The science and engineering

communities are familiar with STEM

initiatives. Through these activities,

educators may notice that students’

standards test scores can improve.

References

American Society of Mechanical

Engineering. (2002). Position statement

– 2002. Retrieved March 24, 2004.

from http://www.asme.org/gric/ps/

2002/02-32.html

Babcock, D. & Morse, L. (2002). Managing

engineering and technology. Englewood

Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Bransford, J. D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking,

R.R. (Eds). (1999). How people learn:

Brain, mind, experience, and school.

Washington, DC: National Academy

Press.

Bjork, R.A. & Richardson-Klavhen, A.

(1989). On the puzzling relationship

between environmental context and

human memory. In C. Izana (Ed.)

Current Issues in Cognitive Processes:

The Tulane Floweree Symposium on

Cognition (pp. 313-344). Hillsdale, NJ:

Erlbaum.

Cormier, S. & Hagman, J. (1987). Transfer

of learning. San Diego, CA: Academic

Press.

CORD. (1999a). Teaching mathematics

contextually. Retrieved April 8, 2004,

from www.cord.org/lev2.cfm/87

CORD. (1999b). Teaching science

contextually. Retrieved April 8, 2004,

from www.cord.org/lev2.cfm/87

Crawford, M.L. (2001). Teaching

contextually: Research, rationale, and

techniques for improving student

motivation and achievement in

mathematics and science. Waco, TX:

CCI Publishing, Inc.

Hu, Y-X., Liu, S-C., & Dong, W. (1996).

Earthquake engineering. London:

Chapman & Hall.

International Technology Education

Association. (2000/2002). Standards for

technological literacy: Content for the

Study of Technology. Reston, VA:

Author.

National Council of Teachers of

Mathematics. (2000). Principles and

standards for school mathematics.

Reston, VA: Author.

National Research Council. (1996). National

science education standards. , DC:

National Academy Press.

Singley, M.K., & Anderson, J.R. (1989).

Transfer of cognitive skill. Cambridge,

MA: Harvard University Press.

Dr. Robert Q.

Berry, III is an

assistant professor

of Mathematics

Education in the

Department of

Educational

Curriculum and

Instruction at the

Darden College of

Education at Old

Dominion University, Norfolk, VA. He

specializes in equity in Mathematics

Education.

Dr. Philip A. Reed

is an assistant

professor of

Technology

Education in the

Department of

Occupational and

Technical Studies

at the Darden

College of

Education at Old

Dominion University, Norfolk, VA. He

specializes in communication technology

and technology teaching methods

and curriculum development.

28 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


Dr. John M. Ritz,

DTE, is professor

and Chairman of the

Department of

Occupational and

Technical Studies at

the Darden College

of Education at Old

Dominion University,

Norfolk, VA. His

interests include

curriculum development and

approaches to teaching technology

education.

Dr. Cheng Y. Lin is

an associate

professor in the

Department of

Engineering

Technology at the

Batten College of

Engineering and

Technology at Old

Dominion University,

Norfolk VA. His

specialties include

automation control,

robotics, and

machine design.

Dr. Steve Hsiung is

an associate

professor in the

Department of

Engineering Technology at the

Batten College of Engineering and

Technology at Old Dominion

University, Norfolk, VA. His specialty

is microprocessor systems design.

Dr. Wendy Frazier

is an assistant professor

in Science

Education at

George Mason

University in

Fairfax, VA. Her

specialties are in

earth science,

chemistry,

and teacher

preparation.

Join the following exhibitors* at ITEA’s Annual

Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, April 3-5, 2005:

Amatrol, Applied Educational Systems, Autodesk, AXYZ

Automation, Inc., Ball State University, Bentley Systems, Inc., BEST

Robotics Competition, Central Missouri State University, CES

Industries, CNC SOFTWARE/Mastercam, Denford, Inc., Energy

Concepts, Inc., Forest Scientific Corporation, Fort Hays State

University, Gears Educational Systems, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill,

Goodheart-Willcox Publisher, Graymark International, Inc.,

Hearlihy & Company, intelitek, Kelvin Electronics, Lab Volt

Systems, Inc., LJ Technical, Midwest Technology Products & Svcs,

NASA, Nida Corporation, NC State University, The Parke System,

Paxton/Patterson, Pearson Prentice Hall/DDC, Penn State

Industries, Pitsco/Lego Educational Division, Printed Circuits

Corporation, Prince William County Schools, PTC, SAE

International, SolidWorks Corporation, St. Cloud State University,

Synergistic Systems/ PITSCO, Pathways, Tech Ed Concepts, Inc,

Techno, Inc., Universal Laser Systems, Inc., VMS, Inc., Welsh

Products, Inc., Z Corporation

FEATURE ARTICLE

All these vendors and a free lunch, too! Complimentary lunch

will be offered to fully-registered attendees on Monday, April 4th,

sponsored by Pitsco.

*exhibitors confirmed as of 10/29/04.

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 29


ASSESSING FOR TECHNOLOGICAL LITERACY

FEATURE ARTICLE

Daniel E. Engstrom

Imagine yourself on trial for not

properly validating that your students

have attained the standards set forth

by the curriculum. You have been

called as the key witness to try to

give a plausible defense. The

questions begin to fly from the

prosecution, and it seems that you do

not even have time to think. “What

evidence can you provide that will

show that your students have indeed

met the standards that are required?”

Your mind races, and you reply: “I

gave a 15-question, multiple-choice

test.” “Not enough!” shouts the

prosecutor. The questioning continues,

now quicker than ever, “It seems that

all the students made the same

project, how was this assessed?

What criteria did you use? How did

you use the results? How do you

know for sure that their group

cooperation was plausible? Are the

students satisfied with their work?”

You begin to slump in the witness

box, hoping all of this is a bad dream.

For some technology education

teachers, the scenario above may

seem far fetched and unreasonable,

but for others it is exactly what they

think through when designing

assessment for standards-based

instructional units. Designing

standards-based assessment is a key

component of a quality technology

education program. For students to

become technologically literate, it is

important that the teacher understands

how to measure student

understandings and abilities in the

study of technology. This article is

written to help the teacher and

teacher educator recognize the

inherent value of designing quality

assessments to measure technological

literacy in students. This article is

A five-step approach to defining assessment

indicators is described in Measuring Progress.

based on the publication, Measuring

Progress: A Guide to Assessing

Students for Technological Literacy

(ITEA, 2004).

Technological Literacy and

Assessment

For the past few years technology

educators across the United States

and in many other countries have

heard the call to design curriculum

that will promote technological

literacy for all children. In some parts

of the country, a vast majority of the

schools have grasped this vision and

made remarkable changes to their

technology education curriculum,

while others continue to press

forward. From my experience as a

junior high technology teacher and

university faculty member, developing

appropriate curriculum and instruction

that aligns with both state and

national standards is not nearly as

difficult as measuring student

achievement of the standards and,

ultimately, progress toward

technological literacy.

Technological literacy has been

defined in various ways. In 2000, the

International Technology Education

Association (ITEA) stated that

technological literacy is “the ability to

use, manage, assess, and understand

technology” (p. 9). This definition

was put forth in Standards for

Technological Literacy to challenge

educators, specifically those in the

field of technology education, to

redirect their curriculum to focus on

students becoming technologically

literate. More recently, the book

Technically Speaking: Why All

Americans Need to Know More About

Technology, described technological

literacy in terms of three dimensions

that include “knowledge, capabilities,

and ways of thinking and acting”

(Pearson & Young, 2002, p. 15). These

three dimensions of technological

literacy are shown in Figure 1.

Pearson and Young (2002, p. 17)

describe each of the three dimensions

with recognizable explanations. To

summarize, they indicate that within

the study of technology, knowledge

refers to the “content” that students

are expected to learn, the impacts and

pervasiveness of technology on

society, how to use an engineering

design process to solve problems, and

that all technology entails risk and

has benefits and consequences. It

is important to recognize that

knowledge, as it is referred to in

Figure 1, does not simply refer to the

recall of facts and data but goes

beyond that to an understanding of

technology. Ways of thinking and

acting enables students to ask

pertinent questions about technology,

learn about new technologies, and

become active participants, as much

as possible, in decisions about

technology. Finally, the term

capabilities references hands-on skill

development and utilizes technology,

math, science, and other concepts to

solve technological problems.

For many teachers, assessment tends

to be an afterthought. Students finish

30 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


their activity, turn in the results, and

expect a score from the teacher. I

remember clearly when I was in ninth

grade and received a grade of B+ on

a project from my wood shop teacher.

When I asked why the grade was a

B+ and not an A, he simply said,

“Because what you did was not A

work, it was only B+ work.” I pressed

the issue a little further and asked,

“What would A work look like?” He

thought for a minute and said, “Well, I

can tell you it is not that,” and he

pointed to my project. It was obvious

that assessment of student work was

an afterthought and not part of the

initial instructional design process.

Designing quality assessment begins

before an instructional unit is started,

not afterwards.

Measuring Progress recommends that

assessment be viewed as a scrapbook

rather than a single snapshot. In other

words, viewing one particular source

of evidence (e.g., a test, a project,

notes, or observations) will not

give a complete picture of student

development. Evidence, when

speaking of assessment, “refers to

the information collected that

demonstrates or proves student

understanding” (ITEA, 2004, p. 10).

This evidence will be varied and

different for all instructional units.

Giving a 15-question, multiple-choice

test will not provide sufficient

evidence that the concepts have been

attained. Costa and Kallick stated that,

“We are more likely to observe

indicators of achievement if we first

take the time to specifically define

those indicators” (2000, p. 1).

Defining the Assessment

Indicators

A five-step approach to defining

assessment indicators is described in

Measuring Progress (see pages 12 to

21). This process has been adapted

and expanded from the “Backwards

Design Process” written about by

Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe

(1998). These steps include:

Figure 1. Dimensions of a Technologically Literate Person

1. Identify content standards and

appropriate benchmarks. These

standards should include both state

and national standards. State

standards, in many cases, provide

the necessary documentation of

standards that may be legally

binding to achieve. The national

standards, although not law,

provide teachers with additional

external validation of their

curriculum.

2. Extract and organize content.

Wiggins and McTighe refer to this

as “unpacking the standard.”

Extracting and organizing the

content allows the standards to

drive the educational process, and

not the teacher’s or student’s own

likes and dislikes for a favorite

project or activity. The material

that is extracted is framed in terms

of “big ideas” that are “core

concepts, principles, theories, and

Figure 2. Assessment Criteria Examples

processes that should serve as the

focal point of…assessment”

(Wiggins & McTighe, 1999, p. 275).

3. Define assessment criteria. This

stage is key to the process and can

be easily overlooked. It requires

that the teacher carefully establish

set criteria by which evidence of

student learning can be compared.

It is suggested that the teacher

identify the number of and titles for

the criteria level. Some suggested

levels are identified in Figure 2. It is

important to recognize that some

big ideas will require unique

assessment criteria levels.

4. Select and use assessment tools

and/or methods. At this stage the

teacher should align the activities,

content, and big ideas of the

instructional unit with a variety of

assessment methods. This

alignment is explained in the next

section of the article.

FEATURE ARTICLE

THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER • December/January 2005 31


FEATURE ARTICLE

Figure 3. Aligning Assessment Purpose With Assessment Techniques

Note: The page numbers referenced refer to content in Measuring Progress.

5. Make use of assessment results.

Finally, once students have

completed the assessments, the

teacher has to carefully examine

the results and determine what the

results show. The results (i.e.,

evidence of learning) can be used

in a variety of ways, as indicated in

Measuring Progress. Some

possibilities include:

a. Improving teaching and

learning

b. Assigning grades

c. Monitoring progress

d. Identifying levels of

technological literacy

e. Determining instructional

effectiveness

f. Communicating the results

g. Marketing and promotion

h. Guiding professional

development decisions

i. Guiding program enhancement

decisions

Assessment Alignment

One of the most challenging parts of

creating quality assessment devices is

alignment. It is certainly not

appropriate to assess higher-order

thinking skills with a multiple-choice

test. In the same light, an essay exam

may not be appropriate to gather

evidence of understanding facts.

Figure 3 may help to clarify the range

of assessments that are appropriate

with expected learning outcomes.

In Figure 3, (adapted from Wiggins &

McTighe, 1998) curricular priorities

are aligned with assessment methods.

Curricular priorities are items that are

extracted and organized from the

content and the standards. The largest

circle identifies items that are “worth

being familiar with.” This material is

likely to be forgotten by the student in

days or weeks to come, but is

nevertheless good for them to know

when solving a design challenge. For

example, in a design unit dealing with

the flight, students should be familiar

with terms related to aviation, dates,

important people, and possibly aircraft

names. This information provides the

student with a more well-rounded

understanding of aviation. This

material is easily assessed with more

traditional assessment methods

including true/false, multiple-choice,

and matching tests. This type of

assessment is easy to construct and

easy to grade, but it gives a very

incomplete picture of student learning.

The center ring identifies items that

are “important to know and do.” This

material provides a foundation for

learning the “big ideas” and is

necessary to successfully solve the

design challenge. Following the same

example about aviation, students

would learn about wing design,

aerodynamics, Bernoulli’s principle,

and the forces on a plane. Assessing

these items is more difficult. It

requires students to construct a

response, demonstrate a performance,

and answer more complex

questioning.

The inner ring contains the “big ideas”

that are essential to understand and

that will have lasting value. These “big

ideas” are the items that lead students

to becoming technologically literate

and require the most challenging and

valuable form of assessments. These

include authentic performance,

presentations, and the development of

design solutions. Each of these items

can be assessed with a rubric or other

authentic assessment tool.

Finally, with all good educational

practices, the teacher must maintain a

balance of assessment methods and

techniques. Using only traditional

paper/pencil tests or just authentic

activities does not provide a complete

picture of a student understanding of

technology.

References

Costa, A. & Kallick, B. (2000). Assessing

and reporting on habits of mind.

Alexandria, VA: Association for

Supervision and Curriculum

Development.

International Technology Education

Association. (2000/2002). Standards for

technological literacy: Content for the

study of technology. Reston, VA:

Author.

International Technology Education

Association. (2004). Measuring

Progress: A Guide to Assessing

Students for Technological Literacy.

Reston, VA: Author.

National Academy of Engineering &

National Research Council. (2002).

Technically Speaking: Why all

Americans need to know more about

technology. (A. Pearson & T. Young,

Eds.). Washington, DC: National

Academy Press.

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (1998).

Understanding by design. Alexandria,

VA: Association for Supervision and

Curriculum Development.

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (1999).

Understanding by design handbook.

Alexandria, VA: Association for

Supervision and Curriculum

Development.

Dr. Daniel E.

Engstrom is an

associate professor

at California

University of PA and

the Project Director

for the NSF-funded

Invention, Innovation,

and Inquiry Project.

He can be reached

at engstrom@cup.edu.

32 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER


Get to Know an ITEA Member


Setting New Standards!

PRENTICE HALL

Technology Education

Learning by Design

Prentice Hall's Technology Education: Learning by

Design is the first middle school Technology Education

program to completely integrate the ITEA

Benchmarks. In fact, it was co-authored by Michael

Hacker, a member of the Standards writing team.

The text incorporates critical math and science

skills, key to completing design projects and

developing technological literacy.

Informed Design, Not Trial and Error

Technology Education: Learning by Design

integrates a unique Informed Design

approach to design projects. Rejecting

trial-and-error methods, the Informed

Design approach prompts research, inquiry,

and analysis; fosters student and teacher

discourse; and cultivates language proficiency.

Bringing Technology Concepts to Life...

Each chapter in Technology Education:

Learning by Design contains a “How

Technology Works” feature linked to

an engaging, 3-D Web activity that brings

technological concepts to life.

Please stop by booth #612 at ITEA!

Call toll-free at 1-866-326-4259 or email us at

votechonline@phschool.com


Setting New Standards!

PRENTICE HALL

Technology Education

Learning by Design

Prentice Hall's Technology Education: Learning by

Design is the first middle school Technology Education

program to completely integrate the ITEA

Benchmarks. In fact, it was co-authored by Michael

Hacker, a member of the Standards writing team.

The text incorporates critical math and science

skills, key to completing design projects and

developing technological literacy.

Informed Design, Not Trial and Error

Technology Education: Learning by Design

integrates a unique Informed Design

approach to design projects. Rejecting

trial-and-error methods, the Informed

Design approach prompts research, inquiry,

and analysis; fosters student and teacher

discourse; and cultivates language proficiency.

Bringing Technology Concepts to Life...

Each chapter in Technology Education:

Learning by Design contains a “How

Technology Works” feature linked to

an engaging, 3-D Web activity that brings

technological concepts to life.

Please stop by booth #612 at ITEA!

Call toll-free at 1-866-326-4259 or email us at

votechonline@phschool.com


Department Head

Engineering and Technology Education

We invite applications and nominations for

candidates for the position of department head.

The Department of Engineering and Technology

Education will continue its highly successful

program of preparing technology education

teachers as well as taking on new roles

including improving retention of freshman and

sophomore engineering students and improving

the K-12 preparation of potential engineering

students. The department head will lead the

faculty in developing strong research programs

that improve our understanding of learning and

teaching engineering and technology subjects

and ways to assess student understanding. For

more information visit our web site:

http://www.usu.edu/hr/W1-110-04.htm


You Don’t Want to Miss This One!

ITEA is “goin’ to Kansas City,” so make plans now to join us in April for what will be four days filled with

education, exploration, networking, and just plain fun.

The 67th Annual Conference is going to be different, very different than conferences of the past. Join your

fellow teachers and colleagues for our 2005 theme, “Preparing the Next Generation for Technological Literacy.”

Some highlights of the many changes include:

• A Saturday evening Welcome Reception—your chance to socialize with your fellow teachers, renew past

acquaintances and make new ones.

• General Session programs scheduled for 9:00am on Sunday and Monday

at the Convention Center. The “Tech Talk” Cafe, a casual way to enjoy

coffee and continental breakfast, will open at 8:00am each morning prior to

the start of the General Sessions.

• Dedicated exhibit hours on Sunday and Monday, with buffet lunch

service available in the hall each day.

Complimentary lunch will be offered to

fully registered attendees on Monday.

• Over 120 special interest sessions to

choose from, in addition to seven preconference

workshops.

• Monday evening’s A Taste of Kansas City

dinner and jazz tour is a fun way to see the city,

taste the famous Kansas City barbeque, and enjoy

some of the best of three of Kansas City’s unforgettable

jazz clubs.

This is one event you don’t want to hear about from

your colleagues after it’s over. So make plans now to

attend.

Complete conference information is available at

www.iteawww.org.

See you there!

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