DESIGN SQUAD (NEW!) • SUPER MILEAGE PHOTOS • ROOFTOP GARDEN DESIGN CHALLENGE
Volume 70 • Number 1
Preferences of Male and
Female Students for TSA
Advancing STEM Education:
A 2020 Vision
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september • VOL. 70 • NO. 1
Preferences of Male and Female Students for
TSA Competitive Events
An explanation of why female students may be
avoiding TE courses, a presentation of research-tested
sets of tools for TE teachers to fix the problem, and a
suggested pathway towards technological literacy for
Charles R. Mitts and W. J. Haynie, III
ITEEA Web News
Editorial: The Necessity of Change
Katie De la paz
Advancing STEM Education: A 2020 Vision
This article sets out to clarify the purpose of STEM education as well as address challenges
to its advancement.
Rodger W. Bybee
2010 Supermileage Competition Photos
Publisher, Kendall N. Starkweather, DTE
Editor-In-Chief, Kathleen B. de la Paz
Editor, Kathie F. Cluff
ITEEA Board of Directors
Gary Wynn, DTE, President
Ed Denton, DTE, Past President
Thomas Bell, DTE, President-Elect
Joanne Trombley, Director, Region I
Randy McGriff, Director, Region II
Mike Neden, DTE, Director, Region III
Steven Shumway, Director, Region IV
Greg Kane, Director, ITEEA-CS
Richard Seymour, Director, CTTE
Andrew Klenke, Director, TECA
Marlene Scott, Director, TECC
Kendall N. Starkweather, DTE, CAE,
ITEEA is an affiliate of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science.
Technology and Engineering 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 and Engineering
Educators Association, 1914 Association Drive,
Suite 201, Reston, VA 20191. Subscriptions
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and nonmember subscriptions are $90; $110
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claims will be honored within 60 days from
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Send change of address notification promptly.
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THE TOP TEN ways ITEEA helps its members to stay connected with others who share
their interests and/or activities, keep up with the latest trends on STEM (Science,
Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education, identify and recognize leaders
in the field, stay relevant through professional development opportunities, and
1. Twitter is a real-time, short messaging service that works over multiple networks and
devices. Follow the sources most relevant to you and access information via Twitter as
it happens—from breaking world news to updates from friends. To receive “tweets”
pertaining to ITEEA and STEM education, go to http://twitter.com/iteea.
2. IdeaGarden is a listserv that generates real-time dialogues pertaining to educational
programs and events, future-focused research, and knowledge resources, as well as
identifying and showcasing new ideas and innovators in teaching and learning. Go to
“Members Only” to learn how to subscribe/unsubscribe, modify subscription settings,
and view archives online: www.iteea.org/Membership/membersonly.htm.
3. LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the
world. Through LinkedIn, you can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified
professionals with whom you need to work to accomplish your goals. Join the “ITEEA
Educators” group at www.linkedin.com/groups?gid+1787786.
4. Facebook builds online social networks for communities of people who share interests
and activities or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.
ITEEA’s Facebook Page is a way that hundreds of ITEEA members find one another
and keep current with ITEEA events and resources. “Friend” ITEEA today at www.
5. ITEEA’s Blog delivers timely news and commentary on subjects pertaining to
technological literacy. Maintained by ITEEA’s Editor, and through the use of “Guest
Bloggers,” ITEEA’s blog utilizes text, images, and links to other sources. Readers can
leave comments and participate in ongoing polling on various topics. Go to:
6. STEM Connections is ITEEA’s cutting-edge electronic newsletter, delivering the latest
trends on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education:
7. Member on the Move features ITEEA member, Terrie Rust, as she chronicles her yearlong
experiences as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow:
8. ITEEA Journals, Technology and Engineering Teacher, Children’s Technology and
Engineering, and The Journal of Technology Education, will keep you up-to-date on
the direction of the field, what other teachers are doing, and more:
9. ITEEA Annual Conference provides a comprehensive professional development
experience including leading-edge keynote presentations, specialized preconference
workshops, educational tours, learning sessions, exhibits, action labs, and social
networking opportunities. Visit www.iteea.org/Conference/conferenceguide.htm.
10. Grants/Scholarships/Awards Programs provide recognition of excellence in the field
of STEM education. Grants and Scholarships provide cash awards to recognize and
encourage STEM teaching. Go to www.iteea.org/Awards/awards.htm.
Editorial Review Board
Thomas R. Loveland
St. Petersburg College
Gateway Regional High
Nikolay Middle School, WI
UVA's College at Wise
University of Maryland Eastern
Indiana State University
Appalachian State University
Plant City, FL
California University of PA
East Naples Middle School, FL
Old Dominion University
California University of PA
Tony Korwin, DTE
SUNY at Oswego
Kesling Middle School, IN
MO Department of Elementary
and Secondary Education
Illinois State Board of
Mary Annette Rose
Ball State University
Oasis Elementary School, AZ
Delmar Middle and High
Andy Stephenson, DTE
Southside Technical Center,
Appalachian State University
Lampeter-Strasburg, High PA
Heritage Middle School, NJ
As the only national and international association dedicated
solely to the development and improvement of technology
and engineering education, ITEEA seeks to provide an open
forum for the free exchange of relevant ideas relating to
technology and engineering 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 ITEEA Headquarters staff.
All professional articles in Technology and Engineering
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 Technology and Engineering
Teacher. Articles with bylines will be identified as either
refereed or invited unless written by ITEEA officers on
association activities or policies.
To Submit Articles
All articles should be sent directly to the Editor-in-Chief,
International Technology and Engineering Educators
Association, 1914 Association Drive, Suite 201, Reston, VA
Please submit articles and photographs via email to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Maximum length for manuscripts is
eight pages. Manuscripts should be prepared following the
style specified in the Publications Manual of the American
Psychological Association, Sixth Edition.
Editorial guidelines and review policies are available
by writing directly to ITEEA or by visiting www.iteea.org/
Publications/Submissionguidelines.htm. Contents copyright
© 2010 by the International Technology and Engineering
Educators Association, Inc., 703-860-2100.
1 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
The 2010-2011 ITEEA Board of Directors election ballot
will be emailed to Professional and active Life Members in
September. The highly experienced field of candidates is
pictured here. Exercise your right to vote by completing your
ballot promptly! Ballots must be completed on or before
October 30, 2010.
William F. Bertrand
Rory J. “R. J.” Dake
Kansas Department of
Region I Director (Supervisor)
Virginia Department of
Leon H. Strecker
Darien Public Schools
Region III Director (Classroom Teacher)
Anthony R. Korwin, DTE
Santa Fe, NM
Internationally Known STEM Next Generation
Workforce Expert to Speak at ITEEA’s Minneapolis
ITEEA is pleased to announce that one of the top
counseling and career development professionals in
the U.S., Dr. Rich Feller, will be the Program Excellence
General Session Speaker at the March 2011 International
Conference to be held in Minneapolis, MN. Dr. Feller is
an internationally known educator who is particularly well
versed in topics such as the Minneapolis Conference Theme,
“Preparing the STEM Workforce: The Next Generation.”
His extensive work in career development has resulted in
over 70 publications, seats on various Boards of Directors
and editorial boards, hundreds of professional presentations
and workshops, and countless committees and other service
activities. At the ITEEA General Session, he will address
the 21st Century Workforce and how technology and
engineering teachers can play a major role in shaping the
workforce of the future, new basics for the next generation,
and the sustainable workforce and environment. Dr. Feller’s
keynote presentation will be held on Thursday, March 24,
2011 at 9:00 am.
Minneapolis, known as the City of Lakes, is located directly
between both coasts, a meeting site that’s central for
everyone. It’s a world-class city, with fabulous shopping,
dining, and entertainment. Less than a three-hour flight
from most U.S. cities and just minutes from downtown
with access to light-rail transit, the Minneapolis-Saint
Paul International Airport (MSP) is served by 10 domestic
airlines and is home to Northwest Airlines. It’s not only easy
to fly into, but the light rail transit (LRT) system ensures
that the city is easy to navigate. No matter the weather,
you can travel easily between many hotels and attractions
using the glass-enclosed skyways that provide comfortable,
convenient connections between downtown restaurants,
shops, and more. Our three ITEEA host hotels, the Hyatt,
Hilton, and Millennium, are directly connected to the
Convention Center via these skywalks.
David D. Worley, DTE
Haltom High School
Haltom City, TX
The city’s glimmering steel and glass core spans more than
50 square blocks, encompassing the financial, retail, and
theater districts, all connected via skywalk. Art, science,
and history are on display at over 57 museums. Shop along
Nicollet Mall or visit the largest mall in the country, Mall of
America. It’s a city of amazing contrasts and combinations.
Where down-home people meet uptown style. Where
below-zero temperature meets above-average intelligence.
Where modern glass architecture meets outdoor green
adventure. Where every season, every art, and every type
meet in every possible way.
2 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
Minneapolis combines the bustle of a big city with the
intimacy of neighborhood life. Big enough to attract worldclass
theater, sports teams, and businesses, yet small enough
to avoid the crime and overcrowding of bigger, denser cities,
this city by the Mississippi has it all.
So, make plans now to join your colleagues in March 2011.
And don’t forget to apply early for funding assistance (details
on the conference website). For full conference information,
Need Financial Assistance to Attend the ITEEA
Conference? Here are Some Tips
Before you apply for financial assistance:
• Compile facts on the ITEEA conference.
• Create talking points as to how this conference
program could improve education for your students.
• Stress to the administration that you will be attending
as a representative of the school and district.
• Print the preliminary program and share it with your
potential funding source.
• Apply to be part of the program, e.g., the Teaching
Technology and Engineering Showcase.
• Have a small budget put together based upon the costs
• Apply to be a Teacher or Program Excellence winner.
Where to look for funding sources:
• Talk to your immediate supervisor about using
professional development monies.
• Ask your local PTA for assistance.
• Become friends with local civic groups that support
• Contact your district or state supervisor who deals with
technology and/or engineering education.
• Do a search of local educational foundations.
• Check with your local teacher’s union.
For more detailed information about funding, go to www.
To stretch your budget money even further, be sure to take
advantage of the special preregistration pricing. ITEEA
Professional Members will pay $299 for a full conference
registration prior to February 11, 2011 ($339 on-site), and
Student Members will pay $84 prior to February 11 ($94 onsite).
Encourage your colleagues to become ITEEA members
to take advantage of these special prices. Contact Maureen
Wiley at email@example.com for information on becoming a
member. (Nonmember conference pricing is $384 prior to
February 11 and $424 after.)
ITEEA Teams Up with Four Other Associations in
Article on Digital Fabrication
Writers from ITEEA, the National Council of Teachers
of Mathematics, the Association of Mathematics Teacher
Educators, the Society for Information Technology
and Teacher Education, and the American Society for
Engineering Educators have teamed up to write an article
titled “Use of Digital Fabrication to Incorporate Engineering
Design Principles in Elementary Mathematics Education”
that is featured in the Contemporary Issues in Technology
and Teacher Education Journal.
The article is designed to show the collaboration of these
five associations in teaching about and with technology
in elementary mathematics instruction. The article was
also directed at fostering STEM education, which is a
fundamental challenge for education. President Obama
(2009) recently addressed members of the National
Academy of Sciences and called for an increased emphasis
on hands-on learning to address this need when he said:
“I want to encourage young people to be makers of things,
not just consumers of things.”
The President concluded that the future of the United States
depends upon our ability to encourage young people to
“create and build and invent.”
This article can be found at www.citejournal.org/vol10/iss2/
ITEEA Recognized for Its Support of Children’s
ITEEA and the Society for Information Technology and
Teacher Education (SITE) have been recognized by the
MacArthur Foundation for their joint effort to support
children’s engineering in the nation’s schools. The Fab@
School 3D fabricator is at the center of their winning
entry in the first MacArthur Foundation Learning
Labs competition. The Fab@School submission was
selected from more than 800 entries in the competition,
cosponsored by the MacArthur Foundation and the White
House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The
SITE/ITEEA Fab@School project was designated by the
sponsors as the “most novel use of new media in support
3 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
October 4-7, 2010 The International Society of Automation
(ISA) will hold its annual event, ISA Automation Week
2010, at the Westin Galleria Hotel in Houston, Texas. ISA
Automation Week is a technical conference that covers
2½ days of sessions, including two keynote addresses,
networking and social events, and a 10,000 square-foot
exhibit area featuring over 100 exhibitors. Early-bird and
member registration discounts are available. For registration
rates, program information, or general event information,
October 4-10, 2010 Join educators and space enthusiasts
around the world to celebrate World Space Week. This
international event commemorates the beginning of the
Space Age with the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4,
1957. World Space Week is the largest public space event
in the world, with celebrations in more than 50 nations.
During World Space Week, teachers are encouraged to
use space-themed activities. To find NASA educational
resources that can be used during World Space Week, visit
the Educational Materials Finder: http://search.nasa.gov/
search/edFilterSearch.jsp?empty=true. To learn more about
World Space Week, search for events in your area, and
find educational materials related to the event, visit www.
October 15, 2010 The Massachusetts Technology
Education/Engineering Collaborative will present its 2010
Annual MassTec Conference, Delivering the Promise – The
T&E of STEM, at the Industrial Technology Department
at Fitchburg State College, 160 Pearl Street, Fitchburg,
Massachusetts. Planning is under way. It is not too early to
register, apply for a vendor table, submit a workshop, or (if
you cannot attend) apply for membership only. Visit http://
masstec.org/conference.html for details.
October 15-20, 2010 The Biotechnology Institute is now
accepting registrations for Teach BioScience!, a premier
training program for teachers who want to bring stateof-the-art
bioscience education to their classrooms.
The new conference, which will be held in Washington,
DC, allows educators to custom design a professional
development experience that meets their needs! For more
information or to register, visit www.biotechinstitute.org/
or contact Scott May at firstname.lastname@example.org or
October 20-22, 2010 Space Week in New Mexico where
ISPCS, the leading meeting of the commercial and personal
spaceflight industry conference, is held. ISPCS is organized
by the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium, a member of
the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program,
administered by NASA. On October 22, WhiteKnightTwo
and VSS Enterprise will perform a flyover as part of the
festivities. This will be the first long-distance test flight of
the VG spaceship and mothership system as part of the
celebrations inaugurating the completion of the runway
at Virgin Galactic’s future home—Spaceport America. A
flyover of the two craft will be a unique event enabling
attendees to see both the spaceport and the vehicles. For
more information on ISPCS 2010, visit www.ispcs.com.
October 21-22, 2010 The Triangle Coalition for Science
and Technology Education is partnering with ITEEA
to present its Annual Conference on STEM Education
Policy in Washington, DC at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel.
The conference will focus on the key issues confronting
education leaders at all levels. The theme of this year’s
conference is STEM Innovation…Leveraging Government,
Education, and Business. It will focus on the transition from
policy to practice, with panel discussions on Congress’s
legislative agenda, the Administration’s education priorities,
the implications of these issues to the various Federal
Agencies with STEM education programs, and how state
and local education leaders can build on these policies and
influence educational excellence in their communities. The
conference will conclude with attendees making visits to
Capitol Hill to meet with Congressional delegates to discuss
these key issues.
To register or to find out more information about the
conference, visit the conference webpage at www.regonline.
October 21-22, 2010 The National Girls Collaborative
Project’s Collaboration Conference will be held at the
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. The Project
brings together organizations throughout the United States
that are committed to informing and encouraging girls to
pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics (STEM). The Collaboration Conference is an
opportunity for representatives from these organizations
to connect and learn from each other and nationallevel
experts. Thanks to funding provided by the Noyce
Foundation, NGCP is able to provide the opportunity for 50
practitioners, representing 25 organizations serving girls in
STEM, to attend the Collaboration Conference at no cost.
Scholarships will be provided to teams of two from selected
organizations. For more information, please visit the
Conference website at www.ngcproject.org/collabconf/.
4 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
October 28-29, 2010 The Department of Technology,
State University of New York at Oswego, will host its 71st
Technology Education Fall Conference on the SUNY
Oswego campus on Lake Ontario. The conference is open
to all K-16 educators/professionals from different school
disciplines, who want to explore this year’s theme of
engineering in Technology Education. The approximately
500 attendees will enjoy 50+ programs, professional
development/contacts, and numerous vendor displays in
Wilber, Park, and Sheldon Halls. For additional information
on attending or presenting, contact Mark.Springston@
Oswego.edu, Conference Co-Chair, or visit www.
November 5-6, 2010 Save the date for the New England
Association of Technology Teachers (NEATT) 2010 fall
conference, to be held at the University of Southern Maine
at Gorham. Email NEATT President Jeffrey Jobst at jjobst@
mass.rr.com for additional information.
November 11-12, 2010 The 68th Annual Four State
Regional Technology Conference, 21st Century Technology
Showcase, will take place at Pittsburg State University/
Kansas Technology Center. For information, contact 620-
235-4365 or Kylie Westervelt at email@example.com.
November 11-12, 2010 The Colorado Technology
Education Association’s 2010 CTEA Conference, 25 Years of
Sharing Ideas!, will be held at the CCCS Lowry Conference
Center in Denver, CO. The agenda will include workshops
on project-based learning, lesson swaps, industry tours,
awards, networking, and more. Would you like to present?
November 26-27, 2010 The First International Conference
of STEM in Education will be held at Queensland University
of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. The importance
of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
(STEM) in Education has been emphasized in numerous
government policies both in Australia and overseas. The
First International Conference of STEM in Education
creates an opportunity for educators and researchers from
schools, universities, businesses, industries, and other
private and public agencies to share and discuss innovative
practices and research initiatives geared towards the
advancement of STEM education. Registration deadline is
October 10, 2010. http://stem.ed.qut.edu.au/
of the conference is Knowledge in Technology Education.
For information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit:
March 24-26, 2011 ITEEA’s 73rd Annual Conference,
Preparing the STEM Workforce: The Next Generation, will be
held at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis,
MN. This year’s
Environment. All conference information is available at
List your State/Province Association Conference
in TET and STEM Connections (ITEEA’s electronic
newsletter). Submit conference title, date(s), location,
and contact information (at least two months prior to
journal publication date) to email@example.com.
Technology Education Concepts, Inc.............i
Valley City State University .............................i
California University of PA........................... 15
Goodheart-Willcox Publisher...................... 38
Forrest T. Jones................................................C3
December 8-11, 2010 The 6th Technology Education
Research Conference (TERC) will be held at the Crowne
Plaza Hotel, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. The theme
5 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
The Road to Minneapolis Leads To:
A once-in-a-lifetime professional
development experience for anyone
involved in STEM education.
Make plans to join your colleagues as they delve
into “Preparing the STEM Workforce:
The Next Generation.”
Get the latest conference information at www.iteea.org/Conference/conferenceguide.htm
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6 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
The Necessity of Change
By Katie de la Paz
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the
stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty,
and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so
we must think anew and act anew.” – Abraham Lincoln
The world described above by Abraham Lincoln sounds
much like the one we inhabit today. Like us, the citizens
of the 1860s lived in uncertain times that required them
to be forward-thinking and adaptable. The challenge
faced by ITEEA members is to recognize that change is
necessary in order to remain competitive and relevant.
By voting in March of 2010 to change the name of the
association, and thereby expand its focus, the membership of
ITEEA has chosen to “think anew and act anew.”
And if Step One of the “Surviving Uncertain Times
Handbook” is adaptation, Step Two would most certainly
be “strength in numbers.” Ironically, the times when it is
most difficult to rationalize your annual membership fee are
precisely those times when being part of this organization
becomes most critically important. Our best opportunity
for long-term success as a field is to work together—sharing
resources, supporting one another, and continuing work to
make the world aware of the critical importance of providing
students with a strong STEM education.
Meanwhile, we’ll work to provide the latest news, resources,
and information relating to all the components of STEM,
with an obvious emphasis on the technology and engineering
aspects. Therefore, while technology education remains
a crucial component of our focus, it’s also important to
recognize that it is just one of the components that make
up what has been determined to comprise a comprehensive
21st Century education. And while each of the STEM
components—science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics—can and do work independently; the whole is
definitely greater than the sum of its parts.
In an effort to provide the services you most need and
want, we continue to pay close attention to our annual
Communications Survey. For example, you tell us, year after
year, that you want practical, classroom teacher-written
articles. We want nothing more than to be able to deliver.
However, to do that, we need YOU to share your classroom
experiences. Our teachers are notoriously reticent—often
convincing themselves that they don’t have the writing
“chops” to successfully put pen to paper, resulting in an
unfortunate lack of precisely the kind of material that
everyone wants most. Let me translate that into a STEMfriendly
Not Enough Articles Written by Teachers = Not Enough
Articles Published by Teachers
For me, a highlight of the ITEEA Charlotte conference was
seeing two classroom teachers receive authorship awards.
Pictured above (on right) is Curt Funkhouser receiving
the first-ever award for “Top Peer-Reviewed Article by a
Classroom Teacher.” Curt didn’t think of himself as a writer,
probably right up until the time he won the award. But he had
classroom experience to share and knew that his experience
could benefit other teachers. Curt was willing to “act anew”—
he took a chance and wrote an article. His reward, in addition
to the “feel good” aspect of being published, is an award and
some great PR for his program.
7 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
This year, in addition to handing out another round of
author awards in Minneapolis, we are offering an additional
incentive: any classroom teacher who has a manuscript
published in Technology and Engineering Teacher will
receive a $50 credit—to use for ITEEA membership,
conference, or publications.
What else did we learn from the survey? That even with
a constantly updated website, email notifications, and a
burgeoning social network, the vast majority of you (92%!)
still consider Technology and Engineering Teacher to be the
most effective way to receive information from ITEEA. We
will continue to put a lot of effort into all of these avenues,
while understanding that you expect a lot from TET—and do
our best to deliver.
When asked what topics you would like to have addressed in
future issues, we heard responses that were very similar to
last year—and very reflective of current events. The top four
• STEM (and STEM Integration)
• Green (Technology and Environment)
• Implementing Engineering in the Classroom
• Practical, Classroom Teacher-Written Projects/Activities
This helps us tremendously when determining editorial
content for the year, and we’ve lined up a series of articles
to address these important topics, beginning this month
with Rodger Bybee’s article, which “sets out to clarify the
purpose of STEM education as well as address challenges to
Thank you all for the opportunity to create and share
resources on your behalf. Your dedication to creating a
next generation of truly technologically literate citizens
brings a tremendous sense of purpose to what I do every
day. I look forward to working our way, together, through
the “stormy present.”
Katie de la Paz is Editor-in-Chief of the
International Technology and Engineering
Educators Association. She can be reached
via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attention Technology and Engineering Classroom Teachers!
Earn a $50 credit towards ITEEA membership,
conference, or publications!
By having an article accepted for publication in Technology
and Engineering Teacher, classroom teachers are eligible for
the $50 credit.
Need more information? Try these helpful links.
• Writing for Technology and Engineering Teacher
• Sample classroom teacher-written articles
• Copyright guidelines
Questions or submissions should be directed
8 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
Resources in Technology and Engineering
An Emerging Energy Resource
By Walter F. Deal
It is ironic that we think of wind,
solar, geothermal, and other energy
sources as “alternative” energy
Energy in the News
Events in the energy arena have been in headlines over the
last year. Two significant human and environmental tragedies
were the Massey coal mine explosion in West Virginia
and the explosion of the Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon
Drilling rig—causing British Petroleum’s oil spill in the Gulf
of Mexico. Despite heroic rescue efforts at the Massey mine,
29 miners perished in the explosion on April 5, 2010. News
media reports state that this was one of the worst mining
accidents in the last 40 years (Fox News, 2010).
On the international scene there were also other significant
energy accidents. About the same time as the Massey mine
explosion, the Wangjialing mine was flooded and 115
Chinese miners were rescued after being trapped for eight
days. Thirty-six miners were killed at the Wangjialing mine in
Shanxi province in China (CNTV, 2010).
Figure 1. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut
Soichi Noguchi, Expedition 23 flight engineer, photographed the
Mississippi Delta showing the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico on
May 4, 2010. Part of the river delta and nearby Louisiana coast
appears dark as the sunlight reflects on the water. Millions of
gallons of oil have flowed from the Deepwater Horizon well in
the Gulf of Mexico. This photograph provides a view of the Gulf
and relative size of the oil film stretching across the delta. The
oil disaster will have far-reaching effects well into the future for
humans and the environment.
Several major mining practices are used to recover coal.
These include surface mining such as area mining, contour
mining, and mountaintop removal. Underground mining
techniques, such as room and pillar mining, are used where
coal seams are too deep to recover by surface techniques.
Depending on the geology of the land and characteristics
of the coal seam and other details, either surface mining or
underground mining strategies are followed. Underground
mining is hazardous work. Danger from mine collapse,
gas or dust explosions, and flooding are a constant threat.
9 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
Significant measures are undertaken to insure the safety of
miners, yet accidents do happen.
The British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon drilling rig
that was located in the Gulf of Mexico exploded on April
21, 2010 and claimed the lives of nine workers. Again, as
in mining coal, the recovery of energy resources can be
extremely hazardous. The BP Deepwater Horizon well is
in 5,000 feet of water in the Gulf and another 13,000 feet
into the sea bed and reservoir (CBS News). It is difficult to
imagine a well that is three miles into the earth!
Coal, oil, and natural gas are three major sources of energy
that are typically used by the industrial nations around
the world. These energy resources are what we may call
“convenient energy” because they are inexpensive, easy to
transport, concentrated, and easy to use. However, there
are many costs that we may not recognize as being hazards,
affecting humans and the natural world around us. They are
finite resources, and the difficulties and challenges increase
in the search for new sources of these forms of energy. As
we look toward our energy future, there is little question
that we need to look at other sources of energy besides oil,
coal, and natural gas.
We may ask the question, What is energy? Typically the first
answers that come to mind are oil, coal, and natural gas or
nuclear energy. Most human activities require some form
of energy consumption. This may be the energy produced
by the food that we eat or the gasoline that is used in cars,
trucks, buses, and other vehicles. We cannot ignore the fact
that we use energy in work and recreation. We use energy
when we ride a bicycle to a store, take a bus or airplane trip,
or even talk on a mobile phone. We use energy across the
spectrum in communications, construction, manufacturing,
and transportation. For example, the food that we consume
may be produced far from our homes on large farms in
another state or even in another country. We may purchase
grapes from Chile or hamburger from Canada or fish from
Norway. Energy is a key element that is required to produce,
harvest, process, and transport that food. We use energy for
lighting, heating, and cooling our homes and businesses. It
is important to recognize that energy plays a critical role in
how we work or play and even survive. However, we may
give little thought as to where this energy comes from. Could
other forms of energy, such as wind and solar energy, become
major players in our energy mix?
What is energy? We can simply define energy as the capacity
to do work as measured by the capability of doing work
(potential energy) or the conversion of this capability to
motion (kinetic energy). Energy that is stored, such as
gasoline or water behind a dam, is defined as potential
energy. Electricity that is available to you through an
electrical wall outlet is a source of potential energy. That
electricity has the potential to do work for you! When we
plug an electrical appliance, such as a microwave, into a
wall outlet and turn it on, the potential electrical energy is
converted into some useful form that is being consumed—
called kinetic energy or the energy of motion. Here the
device may be a lamp that provides light or a toaster that
supplies heat. Here the energy is converted from one form
to another. In our examples, electricity is converted into
light and heat. The electricity is a “convenient” form of
energy because it is easy to transport, easy to convert into a
useful form, and is low in cost. (Figure 2.) Other examples of
kinetic energy are a stream or river, an electric motor used
to power a fan, or a wind generator converting the kinetic
energy of the wind into electricity.
Energy is available in a number of forms, some of which
are easily converted and can be changed into another form
that can do useful work. Most of the world’s convenient
energy comes from fossil fuels that are burned to produce
heat that is then used as a transfer medium to mechanical or
other means to accomplish tasks or do work. Other forms
of energy include solar, geothermal, nuclear, tidal, biomass,
wind, and hydropower. Frequently these forms of energy
are called “alternative” energy resources because they do
not contribute large quantities of usable forms of energy
demanded by industrialized societies (with the exception of
Figure 2. The energy mix that is representative of many industrialized
countries includes petroleum, natural gas, coal, and nuclear
energy. It is important to note that alternative energy resources
such as wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, and biomass make
up about seven percent of the energy mix in the United States.
(Adapted from Energy Basics EIA/DOE). (www.eia.doe.gov/kids/
10 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
nuclear energy). In looking at these forms of energy, we can
see that some of them are renewable and others are not.
Looking at Other Energy Resources
It is ironic that we think of wind, solar, geothermal, and
other energy sources as “alternative” energy resources. If
we look at energy from an historical perspective, wind and
solar energy uses date back thousands of years, while coal
and refined petroleum are more recent. Wind energy is one
of the oldest energy resources used by humans. Humans
have used wind to fill the sails of sailing vessels travelling
the seven seas. Windmills, used in much the same way as
sails on sailing ships, captured the energy of the wind and
converted it into motion; early windmills had sails that
captured the energy of the wind (Goffman, 2008).
that dates sometime before 1900. This type of windmill is
characteristic of what you might have expected to see dotting
the farmland in the Midwest from the mid-1800s through
the 1930s that were used for pumping water. Other brands
of windmills included Heller-Aller, Perkins, Star, Dempster,
Fairbury, and Aeromotor (Gillis, p.15).
Photo Credit: NREL/Jim Green
It is thought that early windmills have their roots in Persia
near the present day borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan. As
civilizations advanced and declined, you could see evidence
of windmills harnessing the power of wind to grind corn or
grain (Gillis, p. 6). With the introduction of the steam engine
and fuels such as peat and coal, and later oil, windmills began
to disappear. Coal and oil were convenient, concentrated,
easily transported, used on demand, and did not rely on the
variability of wind currents.
While there are many different types of windmills, we
probably are most familiar with the windmills of Holland.
One of the earliest types of windmills was the post windmill,
where the mill housing and sails were built upon a post.
The mill housing, which set upon the post, contained
the hardware such as hoppers, gearing, and mill stones
for grinding and making flour. Subsequently, tower mills
began to appear during the middle ages and may have
been constructed with timbers or stone depending on the
availability of local materials. These types of mills were much
larger and sturdier than the post mill. While the towers were
stationary, the caps could be rotated so that the sails could
face into the wind (Gillis, p.10).
Windmills Across the American Prairies
Just as the railroads moved across America connecting the
East and West coasts, windmills gained in importance, too.
Water is a critical resource for humans and machines. Water
was needed for human and animal consumption on the Great
Plains. The steam locomotives required water to make steam
to power the steam engines as they travelled the rails across
Windmills were used to pump water from underground
aquifers using a series of cranks and rods connected to a
pump. Figure 3 shows a restored Eclipse-brand windmill
Figure 3. This Eclipse-brand windmill, manufactured by Fairbanks
Morse, is located in a city park in Limon, CO. It has wooden blades
and tail—perhaps a pre-1900 model. It is no longer pumping water
as a working windmill.
Windmills were used primarily for pumping water but
also were used for other activities that required the energy
of motion. Windmills were employed in sawing logs into
lumber, grinding grain, and generating electricity. Rural areas
in America as well as other parts of the world did not have
the luxury of utility-generated electricity during the early
1900s. Windmills supplied small amounts of electricity to
charge batteries that could power electric lamps for light and
simple radios for several hours a day. Keep in mind that this
was a very modest amount of electricity as compared with
what we may consume in our homes today! Most of these
windmills were removed or destroyed in America when the
11 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
Rural Electrification Authority (REA) installed electric power
lines into these areas (Gillis, p.4)
Interests in Wind Power
America’s interest in and policies toward alternate energy
and wind power has been much like a yo-yo. Changes in the
supply, demand, and pricing of energy drive energy policy.
This can be seen in the invention and innovation of windpower
devices throughout history. The Arab Oil Embargo of
1973 resulted in an oil crisis in the early 1970s and brought
about a flurry of interest and subsequent grants, research
initiatives, and demonstration projects for a variety of energy
generation and development that emphasized renewable and
replenishable resources. Research projects focused on wind,
solar, geothermal, and biofuels such as ethanol.
A number of large wind-power projects appeared in the early
1980s. California is noted for its warm and sunny weather,
and most notably its prevailing winds that originate over the
Pacific Ocean, and became home to a number of wind-power
projects. One of the most notable was the Altamont Pass
wind farm. The Altamont Pass project attracted three of the
earliest wind-farm builders (Gillis, p.58). U.S. Power built the
first 100 turbines that had three-legged 60-foot towers with
three-blade rotors attached to a generator mounted at the
top of the tower. Another builder, Fayette Manufacturing,
erected 50 turbines on 40-foot thin tubular towers with blade
diameters of 50 feet. U.S. Wind Power’s turbines at Altamont
produced about 1.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. The
wind turbines at Altamont Pass and other wind farms would
establish technology trends with their large three-blade
rotors on a single steel tower.
research projects. These activities will augment the scientific
and technical exchanges that already occur between the two
Departments. The goal is to facilitate the development of
offshore clean energy. Additionally, it is expected that these
efforts will create clean energy jobs while expanding the
nation’s renewable energy portfolio and easing America’s
reliance on fossil fuels. (U.S. Department of Energy)
Engineering and Technical Careers
There are a variety of professional and skilled-worker
jobs available in the wind-energy sector. As new windenergy
projects are designed, constructed, and operated,
employment opportunities will be realized. Much of the
funding for alternative and wind-energy projects comes from
federal and state grants and research projects. Jobs in these
areas will require people with business skills and knowledge,
as well as meteorological and engineering experience, to
plan and build projects.
Expect to see meteorologists helping engineers identify
appropriate sites with suitable geographical and wind
Photo Credit: Warren Gretz/NREL
By the late 1980s wind farms were generating large quantities
of electricity in California. Texas would soon take over the
leadership from California in wind-produced electricity,
and by the end of 2006 Texas had an installed base of 2,768
megawatts of wind-generated capacity! While the energy
of the wind is free, critics often complain that wind energy
is not cost-effective without government subsidies (Gillis
p.56). Further, environmental groups oppose large-scale
wind farms because of the threat to migratory birds, their
loud low-pitched sound, and what some consider to be large
Today there is renewed interest in continuing to develop
and build wind farms and other alternative energy
resources. Recently, the U.S. Department of the Interior and
Department of Energy have combined efforts to develop
renewable offshore energy resources. The two agencies
will exchange information on resources and technologies,
conduct stakeholder engagements, and collaborate on
Figure 4. Certification test engineer Arlinda Huskey is shown here
measuring noise emission from the Advanced Wind Turbines, Inc.
AWT-26 wind turbine at the National Wind Turbine Technology
Center using a microphone, signal analyzer, and data recorder.
12 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
conditions. Engineers design the wind-plant facilities while
working with the power utility companies and surrounding
communities. A variety of construction worker classifications
are needed to construct the wind plant. Mechanical and
electrical technicians and technologists are needed to
operate and maintain the wind turbines. These technicians
are called “windsmiths.” Aside from technical positions in
the alternative and wind-energy area, there are business,
management and marketing, sales, communications, human
services, and personnel positions that offer many professional
career opportunities (EERE).
Most all of the technical, engineering, and professional
careers require math and science skills. Critical-thinking
and problem-solving skills such as those gained in science,
math, technology, and engineering classes are a significant
asset in careers that you may find attractive and rewarding.
Technicians and technologists use test equipment to
measure and test the efficiency and performance of complex
equipment and require math and technical skills to accurately
interpret charts and graphs for technical reports (Figure 4).
Photo Credit Warren Gretz/NREL
Figure 6. Here is an exploded illustration view of the inside of a
typical wind turbine. Shown here are the turbine rotor and nacelle
and their technological systems. A mechanical system converts
the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy, and the
mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy that is transported
and used by the consumer (Courtesy of EERE).
Specific careers in technical and nontechnical administrative
and professional support fields can be found in the
Dictionary of Occupational Titles (www.occupationalinfo.
org/) and “ONet” Online Occupational Information Network
How Wind Generators Work
Windmills and wind turbines depend on the motion of air
currents or wind to turn some type of propeller or rotor
to convert the wind energy into mechanical energy. It is
this principle that is common to windmills of the past and
present-day wind turbines. Today we call windmills wind
turbines, as they are more sophisticated in design and
construction. Wind turbines generally are classified into two
major categories: horizontal-axis and vertical-axis machines.
The most common design is the horizontal design as shown
in Figure 5. These are three-blade turbines that are designed
to face the oncoming wind.
Figure 5. Wind turbine construction workers and engineers are
hoisting a Westinghouse 600 kW wind turbine rotor and nacelle assembly
on top of a steel tower at the NREL National Wind Technology
Center (NWTC), where the turbine will be modified for use as a
test bed for component testing.
When we look inside a wind turbine nacelle or housing,
we can see a number of technological systems such as
shown in Figure 6. These include a mechanical system
of gears and shafts to modify the low speed of the rotor
through a gear box to increase the generator shaft speed.
The rotor is part of this mechanical system that converts
the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy.
The wind moving across the blades of the rotor creates a
13 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
“lift” and therefore rotation of the rotor. The generator is
the heart of the generating system, as it is used to convert
the mechanical energy of the wind acting on the rotor into
electrical energy. There are sensors that determine the wind
speed and wind direction. This information is channeled
into a control system that orients the wind turbine into
an optimal position facing the wind using a yaw control
system. A braking system limits that rotational speed of
the rotor to safe and acceptable speeds. A pitch control can
alter the pitch of the rotor to control the speed and drive
As you can see, there are a number of mechanical,
electrical and electronic, and structural systems that
function together to harness the power of the wind.
There are engineers, technologists, and technicians who
design, operate, and maintain equipment such as these
sophisticated wind turbines. Additionally, there are
other business and support professionals concerned with
personnel and business issues who require technological
literacy to support their nontechnical job skills.
The following activity addresses Standards for Technological
Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (ITEA/ITEEA,
2000/2002/2007) Standards 5, 9, and 10.
Standard 5 – Students will develop an understanding of
the effects of technology and the environment (p. 65).
Standard 9 – Students will develop an understanding of
engineering design (p. 99).
Standard 10 – Students will develop an understanding of
the role of troubleshooting, research and development,
invention and innovation, and experimentation in
problem solving (p. 106).
The task in this activity is to research, plan, design,
construct, and test a working model of a wind turbine.
Miniature 6-12 volt DC electric motors can be used as
DC generators. A rotor or propeller must be designed and
constructed that can be used with the motor in a generator
mode. An LED can be used as a load and voltage, and
current data can be collected at various wind speeds using
an inexpensive digital multimeter. The data can be collected,
recorded, and analyzed to establish potential power and
wind relationships. The wind turbine should be capable
of orienting itself into the wind using a wind-vane design
concept. Students should research the best location on the
school grounds by analyzing wind patterns. In addition, they
should research an ideal home or large-scale wind turbine
location within their city or country and describe the
characteristics of such a site.
Ideally, an engineering-team approach should be used to
maximize innovation and experimentation as well as a team
and competitive dimension to the learning activity. The
teams should consult the Department of Energy’s Wind and
Water Power Program website (www.windpoweringamerica.
gov) for information about wind power technologies and
suitable wind locations.
Student engineering technical reports should reflect the
scope of each team’s project and findings. Team evaluation
should be based on the project team’s turbine design,
innovation, experiment, and technical report.
Energy is a critical resource to emerging and industrial
societies. We can see that fossil energy resources
such as oil, coal, and natural gas are convenient and
concentrated energy sources. They are easy to convert
from one form to another, which makes them ideal for
heating and cooling and for powering the engines of
industry as well. Generally, fossil fuels are burned to
create heat and expanding gases that are converted into
mechanical energy and thus into more useful forms such
as electricity and motion. All societies use energy in
varying degrees. Industrial and information societies are
energy-intensive and use very large quantities of energy.
Today western societies rely on very large quantities
of petroleum, coal, and natural gas to support human
needs such as agricultural production, communication,
construction, and manufacturing activities. However, it
is widely recognized that fossil fuels are finite resources
that are becoming scarce and challenging to discover and
extract. These challenges are highlighted by recent energy
accidents around the globe such as in the Gulf of Mexico
and in China.
These kinds of accidents and their impact on the
environment, as well their effect on the global warming or
climate change front, provide an incentive to explore and
develop alternative energy resources and technologies.
These kinds of accidents affect governmental policies
regarding the extraction and use of energy resources.
Governments may provide incentives through research
and demonstration projects, grants, and taxes. Alternative
energy resources, such as wind and solar energies, can be
a part of the energy mix to meet human needs and reduce
the undesirable impacts of fossil fuels. As we move toward
the future, we will see new jobs on the horizon that
complement the alternative energy field.
14 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
CBS News. (2010, May 16). Blowout: The Deepwater
Horizon Disaster. Retrieved from www.cbsnews.com/
CNTV. Death toll rises to 36 in north China colliery flood;
investigation launched. Retrieved from http://english.
Fox News Network, LLC. (2010, July 1). Coal miner killed
in accident at Massey Energy operation in southern
West Virginia. Retrieved from www.foxnews.com/
01, 2010 | Associated Press
Gillis, Christopher. (2008). Windpower. Atglen, PA.
Goffman, Ethan (2008). Schiffer Publishing Ltd. Capturing
the wind: Power for the 21st century. Retrieved from
U.S. Department of Energy. (2010, June 29). DOI and DOE
sign MOU to spur offshore renewable energy projects.
Retrieved from http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/news/daily.
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearing
House (EERE). (2001, January). Careers in renewable
energy. Retrieved from www1.eere.energy.gov/library/
Walter F. Deal, Ph.D. is an adjunct
associate professor and Emeriti at Old
Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He
can be reached via email at email@example.com.
217_430 TechEd7x4.625_BW:Layout 1 1/6/10 10:01 AM Page 1
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15 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
By Harry T. Roman
Any good design has plenty of
illustrations, artist’s renderings,
and assorted projections of what
the physical reality of the design
might look like.
A small commercial building in a nearby industrial park
has decided to install a rooftop garden for its employees
to enjoy. The garden will be about 100 feet long and 75
feet wide. The company has heard about your school’s
technology and engineering education program and is
impressed, and has asked you to consider having your
students assist with the initial conceptual design and
concerns with planning the garden. Are you and the
students ready for this challenge?
The best way to start any open-ended design like this is to
consider the basic questions that are likely to arise in the
mind of the company. So let’s make a list of the things we
anticipate will be of importance to the company.
• Can the roof and building structure support the added
weight of soil, plants, and other items to be installed
there? And the water to be absorbed by the soils?
• Are there to be only plants in the garden or small trees
and shrubs as well?
• If natural rain is insufficient, is there a water supply that
can be tapped from the building?
• Will there be walkways and places to sit or maybe eat
lunch in the garden?
• Who will tend and maintain the garden after it is
16 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
This phase of the rooftop garden should conclude with a
summary report of the concerns and past experiences with
rooftop gardens and a bibliography of references cited. If
time permits, the students might even make a formal oral
presentation to company managers about what they have
found out in the first phase of their work.
Can the roof and building structure support the added weight of
soil, plants, and other items to be installed?
These first few questions are pretty “technical” in nature, so
don’t forget to include other concerns as well, such as:
• Does this alteration of the building affect any of
the local municipal codes for fire, safety, building
construction, and public appearance?
• Is a special permit or variance needed from the town?
• Are there building insurance impacts and additional
premium fees as a result of the rooftop garden?
• Will there be a need for additional safety measures for
the employees who visit the garden?
• How might this new employee facility affect their work
Making a Design Case
Teams of students can now begin developing some initial
designs for the rooftop garden. It would be helpful to keep
in mind that the students are to be involved in the early
concept and planning stages, which generally means the
customer (the company in this case) may not have a firm
idea of what it wants. Perhaps the best way to approach this
design challenge is to have different student teams develop
different design themes. For instance, how about some
design team themes such as:
• A relaxation garden to promote employee creativity
• A lunch-hour respite garden
• An open-air meeting garden for company team
• A multipurpose and recreational garden
• An active garden where employees can tend the plants
Now students may begin the actual design phase, turning
the design themes listed above into exciting visual
formations, accompanied by good written supporting
These two lists above are not necessarily complete. There
are probably other concerns that should be itemized
and discussed. Give this initial thinking time plenty of
room, letting the students feel comfortable with being a
“consultant” to the company. To help spur student thinking
on this design challenge, the students can visualize what
it would be like to have such a facility on their own school
roof. What might their principal and administrative staff be
concerned about in such a case?
They should also check the literature for what has been
done in the past with rooftop garden designs. Are there
architects who specialize in this, whose work can be
referenced? Is this a field of study in architectural schools?
Are there architects or a school of architecture from which
an expert may visit the class and provide some firsthand
information? Literature searches via Internet or traditional
library sources are, of course, also strongly encouraged.
Students are free to use hand drawings, computer-generated images,
or sketches to get their ideas across in an understandable way.
17 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
Any good design has plenty of illustrations, artist’s
renderings, top/side/perspective drawings, and assorted
projections of what the physical reality of the design
might look like. Students are free to use hand drawings,
computer-generated images, or sketches to get their ideas
across in an understandable way.
A favorite technique of architects is to use threedimensional
models and diorama-like portrayals to give
their creations a lifelike quality, creating excitement and
affinity for their chosen design points. There is nothing
preventing your students from doing the same thing for
their client company. Have at it and let the construction
paper, foam-board, paints, and assorted accoutrements fly!
Tease out the artist-designer in everyone. Make sure to mix
head and hand learners on each design team.
Would a bench add some “pizzazz” to your rooftop garden design?
When the designs are ready, it becomes time for the big
presentation to the client company and the time to see their
faces light up with awe and surprise at what your students
have designed. I can hear the applause from here!
If you can visualize this highly creative effort happening
right now in your classroom….why wait any longer?
Contact some nearby companies and businesses, and
offer the services of your students to solve problems and
fulfill new design challenges they might be thinking about.
Market your students as consultants and then stand back
and watch the creative ideas fly!
Architects use three-dimensional models to give their creations a
Museums are a wonderful place to learn about models and
dioramas. Maybe a quick trip to a local museum would get
your students in the mood to build some 3-D models and
help them develop some ideas for doing the same with the
rooftop garden challenge.
Hobby stores may have the kinds of accoutrements and
accessories your students will need, like miniature plants,
trees, benches, walkways, building materials, and such that
will add “pizzazz” and “snap” to their designs. Don’t be
afraid to experiment and push the envelope. Your students
are trying to get their client company to think and envision
what could be a wonderful new space on their now plain,
old, drab, flat roof.
You might be very pleased at what these local companies
and businesses have to say about your school and its
technology and engineering education program.
Harry T. Roman recently retired from his
engineering job and is the author of a variety
of new technology education books. He can
be reached via email at htroman49@aol.
18 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
Preferences of Male and Female
Students for TSA Competitive Events
By Charles R. Mitts and W. J. Haynie, III
Females preferred those
activities that focused on design
or communication and that
seemed socially relevant.
Arguably a major issue facing technology education
(TE) since its inception has been its failure to
attract and keep female students. This article
explains one primary reason female students may
be avoiding TE courses, presents a research-tested set of
tools that TE teachers can use to help fix the problem, and
offers a new realizable pathway toward TE’s number one
goal: technological literacy for all students. By tapping the
full potential of the Technology Student Association (TSA),
TE’s long unintentional and, until recently, unrecognized
and under-addressed history of male gender bias may be
The Industrial Arts curriculum before the 1980s did not
attract female students or teachers, but there were some
early indicators that the more contemporary technology
curriculum incorporating computers and communication
technology was more appealing to females (Cummings,
1998; Hill, 1998; Sanders, 2001; and Zuga, 1998). At the
same time, society was changing, and women were more
accepted in traditionally male-dominated professions
(Foster, 1996; Haynie, 1999; Stephens, 1996; and Wolters
& Fridgen, 1996). Still, few women enter technology
education even today. Regrettably, Sanders (2001) noted
that, despite some gains in diversity, “technology education
is still taught mostly by middle-aged white men.” The
secondary classes still attract far more boys than girls. This
troubling issue must be resolved if technology education is
to meet its mission.
The small body of professional literature concerning lack
of women in technology education and factors keeping
females out has been modest but useful (ITEEA, 1994;
Liedtke, 1995; Markert, 1996; Silverman & Pritchard,
1996; Trautman, Hayden, & Smink, 1995; and Volk &
Holsey, 1997). Most of this literature, however, consisted of
opinion papers, library research, and journal articles. Very
little original or data-driven empirical research exists on
gender issues in technology education.
Two foundational research efforts did shed some light on
gender issues in technology education (Haynie, 1999, &
2003). The 1999 survey provided a baseline for further
research. In 2003 the “Quasi Ethnographic Interview
Approach” reported further findings, mostly concerning
the cultural atmosphere in the TE profession. But these
and other similar efforts by researchers following up on
Haynie’s work (Lee, 2008; Varnado, Haynie, and Lee, N.D.)
have failed to identify significantly important ideas for
increasing the interest level of female students to take TE
courses in their secondary school experience. They mainly
focused on how to make females more comfortable once
they had enrolled in TE.
19 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
More recently, Mitts (2008) broke new ground in a study
that did identify topics and activities of interest to females
in TE. His study was essentially a testing of theory and
predictions from an earlier work by Weber and Custer
(2005). Many research studies, such as those noted in this
paragraph, remain hidden in the esoteric research literature
of the profession. However, when findings of importance
to teachers in the field are revealed, it is important to
share them in a broader forum such as Technology and
Engineering Teacher. That is the purpose of this article: to
share some findings discovered in a re-examination of the
Mitts research data with technology teachers who can use
them to attract more girls to their classes.
Foundations, Methods, and Findings of the
Documenting the Need. Data from the North Carolina
Department of Public Instruction’s Education Statistics
database for the 2004-2005 school year was examined,
and it clearly revealed the extent of the gender issue
problem in technology education (Table 1). Exploring
Technology Systems is a required middle school course,
and Fundamentals of Technology is an elective course for
high school freshmen (or above) in North Carolina; similar
courses appear in the curricula in many states. While
37% of boys who had Exploring Technology Systems took
Fundamentals of Technology as freshmen, only 8.6% of
the girls did. And out of the 1594 female students who did
enroll in the Fundamentals course, only 1.7% took the next
TE course, Manufacturing Systems. Table 1 documents
a decline of 16,852 female students between middle
school and high school who enrolled in Fundamentals of
Technology in North Carolina: 91.4%.
If the goal of technology education is to ensure that all
students become technologically literate members of
Students Enrolled in North Carolina Technology Education
Course Males Females Ratio
Exploring Technology Systems 30258 18446 1.64:1
Fundamentals of Technology 11107 1594 6.97:1
Manufacturing Systems 853 27 31.59:1
Principles of Technology I 1943 547 3.55:1
Principles of Technology II 395 49 8.06:1
Note: The researcher selected these courses because they were the ones offered at
the Lincoln County High School where he taught in 2004-2005.
This group of school students has just succeeded in building fragile
towers from nothing but spaghetti-stick beams and gumdrop
fasteners. Girls prefer design activities that have some social
significance. Photographer: Denise Applewhite, Princeton Weekly
society, we will never achieve this goal unless
approximately one-half of the desks in our classrooms are
occupied by girls.
How Gender Bias Developed. While the data indicates
that TE teachers may have unwittingly contributed to the
problem of too few girls in our classes, the issue of male
gender bias has deep roots in Western philosophy and
culture. From Socrates to Hegel, our philosophers believed
and taught that women were intellectually inferior to men.
Plato said that this was due to the fact that “women are of
the earth.” Beliefs are the basis of actions. The belief that
women were inferior to men was used as the justification
for barring women from receiving any formal education
or participating in public life. It wasn’t until the middle of
the 19th century that educational opportunities became
available for women. And, even in our pluralistic society
of the USA, women only recently won their right to vote
in 1922. During WWII the “Rosie the Riveter” image
convinced many members of our society that women were
capable, but when the war ended the servicemen generally
still reclaimed most jobs in industry and technology, and
bias against females still prevailed.
The fact that technology education has been dominated
by men is partially due to the consequence of an historic
split by the Congress of vocational education into maledominated
industrial arts and female-dominated home
economics. This division no doubt made perfect sense
to the all-male U.S. Congress when it passed the Smith-
Hughes Act in 1917, the precursor of today’s Carl Perkins
20 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
Computer hardware engineer
Electrical and electronics engineer
Percent of Women in Technical Occupations 2005
Act. Even though women were moving toward equal
treatment and opportunities, the common belief was
that a woman’s place was in the home. So, while today all
educational arenas and occupational fields are open to
women, the situation is complicated by the fact that what
women believe it means to be a woman has developed over
the centuries within the context of and by relationship to a
male-defined norm (Table 2).
Effects of Gender Bias in TE. Research reveals major
differences in career preferences between males and
females. Women prefer fields that involve people and living
things, such as law, medicine, and biological sciences,
while men prefer fields that deal with the inanimate, such
as physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, and
engineering. Activities in the industrial arts shops of the
1940s–1960s, such as the pump handle lamp (shown in
Figure 1) and gun rack projects appealed mainly to boys.
In the 1970s those traditional projects were supplanted
by a number of new activities derived from the IACP
era as part of our transition to TE. But there was still a
notable gender bias. The Metric Dragster was the most
popular activity of this period, and it still mainly attracted
boys. Research also reveals that while women are not well
represented in technical careers, females are just as likely
as males to use computers, more likely to participate in
nonathletic activities after school, have higher educational
aspirations than males, and are more likely than males
to immediately enroll in college. Women comprise the
majority of students in undergraduate and graduate
programs, and are more likely to persist and attain degrees.
Research to Identify Sources of Gender Bias in TE.
Weber and Custer published a research study in 2005
that found that females in technology education prefer
activities focusing on design and communication. Their
study divided 56 activities into four categories: Design,
Make, Utilize, and Assess. Student participants were asked
to rate these activities according to their interest level
using a Likert-type scale. Females preferred those activities
that focused on design or communication and that seemed
socially relevant. The top five female choices were:
1. Use a software-editing program to edit a music video.
2. Use a computer software program to design a CD cover.
3. Design a model of an amusement park.
4. Design a school mascot image to print on t-shirts.
5. Design a “theme” restaurant in an existing building.
In contrast, males picked the following five items as their
1. Build a rocket.
2. Construct an electric vehicle that moves on a magnetic
3. Perform simple car maintenance tasks on a car engine.
4. Program a robotic arm.
5. Design a model airplane that will glide the greatest
The results of the Weber-Custer research pointed to clear
differences in gender preferences based upon distinct
categories of activities.
Figure 1. The classic pump-handle lamp project, circa 1940-1960,
and other woodworking projects mainly appealed to boys.
The Follow-up Study by Mitts. In order to test the Weber-
Custer research findings, the types of activities males
and females chose in Technology Student Association
(TSA) competitive events at the North Carolina State TSA
Conferences in 2005 and 2006 were carefully analyzed.
There were 31 middle school events and 33 high school
21 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
events (Mitts, 2008). Before tabulating these gender
choices, the description of each TSA competitive event
listed in the official guides for both middle and high school
was examined; then based upon the Weber-Custer study, a
predictive judgment was made by the researcher as to the
type of event category in which it belonged. Out of a total
of 64 events, it was determined that 26 were designing
and/or communication-type events, and 26 were utilizingtype
Definite conclusions were drawn from the resulting
data. Male and female participants in these TSA state
conferences differed in their preferences for types of
competitive event activities. Males clearly had a strong
bias for utilizing-type activities such as Dragster Design
(7 out of 9 events), while females had a preference for
nonutilizing design and/or communication-type events (10
out of 10). These results were consistent with the findings
of the Weber-Custer research. A correct prediction of
gender preferences for TSA competitive events was made
before data analysis in 20 out of 21 cases (95%) for which
statistically significant results were found. Some TSA
events were omitted from the study because there were not
enough entrants to analyze validly. In addition, the data
clearly suggested that both males and females prefer team
activities by 77%. Of high importance to researchers, but
of little utility to teachers, the validity and reliability of the
Weber-Custer criteria as a predictor of gender preferences
New Findings Discovered in the Mitts Study
The original Mitts study used raw numbers of students
selecting certain TSA events and the “Chi-Square” statistic
as the basis for determining the predictive capability
of the Weber-Custer assumptions. Thus, if the Weber-
Custer approach predicted that the event “Manufacturing
Prototype” would be favored by males, and then 10 boys
and 8 girls actually entered the contest, it would appear
that boys preferred this event. However, if the same data is
reexamined based on percentages of the total numbers of
girls and boys attending the conference selecting this event,
we see that the 10 boys were from a group of 244 total
(4.10%) while of the total girls present (115) the 8 selecting
this event represents 6.96%. In actuality, the percentage of
girls selecting Manufacturing Prototype at this particular
conference was slightly higher than the percentage of boys.
Hence, the present study reexamines all of the Mitts (2008)
data to provide information easily understood in laymen’s
terms concerning which activities and TSA competitive
events might be more attractive to girls, which are more
or less neutral, and which boys prefer. It is acknowledged
that this casual approach of examining percentages does
not rise to the level of statistical significance available via
the Chi-Square technique, but it allows us to make good
guesses about cases with small numbers, whereas it could
take several years of collecting data to attain statistical
significance for them.
In the reexamination of data from the Mitts study,
columns were added to the original data tables showing
the percentages of males and females selecting each
competitive event, while the previous columns concerning
the Weber-Custer predictions were deleted. The resulting
tables, including the columns of percentages (Tables 3 and
4 for middle school and high school), were then examined
and used to identify specific events favored by males or
females and an informal indication of the magnitude of
their preferences. The following scale of capital and lower
case letters indicating magnitude was used to indicate
M = Strong Male preference (more than 5% points)
m = slight Male preference (1-4.99 % points)
none = no preference (less than 1% point difference)
Fundamentals of Technology Class, East Lincoln High School, Lincoln
County, NC. As the research study on TSA gender preferences
confirmed, boys love to build dragsters. Photographer: Charles
N-F = No Finding, 0 females entered the event, so any
apparent finding is invalid
f = slight female preference (1-4.99 % points)
F = Strong Female preference (more than 5% points)
22 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
events and activities marked lower case (m or f, indicating
slight preference) or “none” (neutral). These tables should
be helpful to teachers who wish to present a curriculum
that is more gender neutral.
Girls enjoy group activities and events that simulate making a
contribution to society.
* = If a * appears beside any of the above codes, it
indicates that the difference noted was statistically
significant according to the Chi-Square (Χ²) test at the
Statistical significance does not automatically indicate
importance, so a few of the events marked “m” also have
the *, making them “m *.” Only one event coded with a
capitol letter (M) did not have a significant Χ² finding
(high school - Structural Engineering), so all other F and
M findings are significant statistically as well. In selecting
events, teachers should consider all three bits of data (raw
numbers, percentages, and Χ² results) to determine if the
finding is fully valid, represents enough numbers to be
useful, and really represents a large enough difference to
The middle school girls seemed to like most (with
high preference, F) 12 of the 31 events and had a slight
preference (f) for four more events. Middle school boys
still had a high level of preference (M) for 7 events,
including the Dragster Design. High school findings were
similar in nature, but there were fewer events strongly
favored by girls (5 of 33 marked F), while boys chose 9
events more often (M). In both tables, teachers can identify
The field of technology education evolved from an
historically male-dominated industrial arts curriculum.
The projects and other learning activities of IA held little
interest for girls, and few females entered the field at any
level as secondary students, teachers, or professors. With
the transition to TE, new activities came into vogue, but
many, such as the CO 2 -powered race car, were still of
much more interest to boys. Casual observations of the
strong male gender bias were confirmed with research,
but the research literature has had little effect in the TE
laboratories and classrooms of our schools. This article
interpreted some valid research findings in a manner more
easily accessible to teachers and presents them in the
appropriate forum for having real impact in our middle
and high schools. TSA competitive events have been
demonstrated to have significant impact on what is taught
in the TE curriculum and how it is taught. Now teachers
can consult the tables provided in this article to choose
activities and TSA competitive events to feature in their
classes that will attract a higher number of girls and help
offset some of the male gender bias at the secondary level.
As more girls participate in higher numbers, eventually
there will also be more female teachers and professors to
attract even more girls.
Events centering on socially significant topics (i.e.,
environment, medical technology, etc.) and those
focusing on communication skills (such as graphic design,
desktop publishing, etc.) have highest appeal to girls and
should certainly be considered as a means to balance the
population of our classes. Events for which boys or girls
have only a slight preference and those that are neutral
can also be useful (if used in balance) to stem the gender
deficit. It is only those activities and TSA events that show
strong male preference that are continuing to repel girls
from our programs. Is it time to consider doing away with
the race cars? Perhaps not, but they certainly should be
balanced with some learning activities and TSA events
that are highly preferred by girls if TE is to truly prepare a
whole society of “technologically literate” people.
23 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
Middle School Event
Entries % of M % of F
1 Agriculture and Biotech Design Design and/or Communication 14 23 37 5.69% 12.30% F *
2 Career Challenge Research and Writing 9 9 18 3.66% 4.81% f
3 Challenging Tech Issues Design and/or Communication 16 32 49 6.50% 17.11% F *
4 Chapter Team Design and/or Communication 17 31 48 6.91% 16.58% F *
5 Communication Challenge Design and/or Communication 3 12 15 1.22% 6.42% F *
6 Computer Applications Utilizing 19 20 39 7.72% 10.70% f
7 Construction Challenge Design and/or Communication 20 10 30 8.13% 5.35% m
8 Cyberspace Pursuit Design and/or Communication 25 37 63 10.16% 19.79% F *
9 Digital Photography Challenge Design and/or Communication 18 41 59 7.32% 21.93% F *
10 Dragster Design Challenge Utilizing 59 10 69 23.98% 5.35% M *
11 Electrical Applications Utilizing 22 3 25 8.94% 1.60% M *
12 Environmental Challenge Design and/or Communication 18 29 47 7.32% 15.51% F *
13 Inventions & Innovations Design and Utilizing 28 12 41 11.38% 6.42% m
14 Leadership Challenge Writing and Communication 15 35 50 6.10% 18.72% F *
15 Manufacturing Challenge Utilizing 34 12 46 13.82% 6.42% M *
16 Graphic Design Challenge Design and/or Communication 12 31 43 4.88% 16.58% F *
17 Flight Challenge Utilizing 45 9 54 18.29% 4.81% M *
18 Marine Design Challenge Research and Utilize 16 17 29 6.50% 9.09% f
19 Mechanical Challenge Utilizing 26 12 38 10.57% 6.42% m
20 Medical Technology Challenge Research and Present 11 22 33 4.47% 11.76% F *
21 Prepared Speech Writing and Communication 5 8 13 2.03% 4.28% f
22 Problem Solving Utilizing 59 18 83 23.98% 9.63% M *
23 RC Marine Transport NC Utilizing 21 3 25 8.54% 1.60% M *
24 Structural Challenge Utilizing 45 26 52 18.29% 13.90% m *
25 System Control Tech Utilizing 16 6 17 6.50% 3.21% m *
26 Technical Design Challenge Utilizing 16 5 21 6.50% 2.67% m
27 Technical Writing Challenge Research and Writing 5 20 18 2.03% 10.70% F *
28 Technology Bowl Challenge Technology Knowledge 37 26 63 15.04% 13.90% m
29 Transportation Challenge Utilizing 24 7 31 9.76% 3.74% M *
30 TSA Talk/Multimedia Research and Present 9 5 14 3.66% 2.67% none
31 Video Challenge Design and/or Communication 21 29 50 8.54% 15.51% F *
Table 3 Preferences of Middle School Students
* Significant Χ² finding at the p< .05 level.
24 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
High School Events
Table 4 Preferences of High School Students
* Significant Χ² finding at the p< .05 level.
Entries % of M % of F
1 Agriculture and Biotech Design Research and Display 8 11 19 3.28% 9.57% F *
2 Architectural Model Designing and/or Communication 25 15 40 10.25% 13.04% f
3 Career Comparisons Research and Writing 5 2 7 2.05% 1.74% none
4 Chapter Team Designing and/or Communication 19 26 45 7.79% 22.61% F *
5 CAD 2D Architectural Designing and/or Communication 8 2 10 3.28% 1.74% m
6 CAD 3D Engineering Designing and/or Communication 6 1 7 2.46% 0.87% m
7 CAD Animation, Arch. Designing and/or Communication 2 0 2 0.82% 0.00% N-F
8 CAD Animation, Eng. Designing and/or Communication 1 0 1 0.41% 0.00% N-F
9 Construction Systems Utilizing 17 0 17 6.97% 0.00% M *
10 Cyberspace Pursuit Designing and/or Communication 39 8 49 15.98% 6.96% M *
11 Desktop Publishing Utilizing 4 13 17 1.64% 11.30% F *
12 Dragster Design Utilizing 50 7 57 20.49% 6.09% M *
13 Electronic Res. & Exper. Utilizing 9 1 10 3.69% 0.87% m
14 Engineering Design Utilizing 18 8 26 7.38% 6.96% none
15 Extemporaneous Presentation Designing and/or Communication 19 5 24 7.79% 4.35% m
16 Film Technology Designing and/or Communication 43 20 64 17.62% 17.39% none
17 Flight Endurance Utilizing 30 3 34 12.30% 2.61% M *
18 Imaging Technology Designing and/or Communication 13 9 24 5.33% 7.83% f
19 Manufacturing Prototype Utilizing 10 8 18 4.10% 6.96% f
20 Medical Technology Designing and/or Communication 21 38 59 8.61% 33.04% F *
21 Prepared Presentation Designing and/or Communication 8 12 20 3.28% 10.43% F *
22 Promotional Graphics Designing and/or Communication 20 14 35 8.20% 12.17% f
23 Robotics (RC) Utilizing 12 2 15 4.92% 1.74% m
24 SciVis Utilizing 13 1 14 5.33% 0.87% m *
25 Structural Engineering Utilizing 53 14 67 21.72% 12.17% M
26 System Control Tech Utilizing 25 3 29 10.25% 2.61% M *
27 Technical Research and Report
Writing Research and Writing 7 6 13 2.87% 5.22% f
28 Technical Sketch & Application Designing and/or Communication 18 9 27 7.38% 7.83% none
29 Technological Systems Designing and/or Communication 10 8 19 4.10% 6.96% f
30 Technology Bowl Designing and/or Communication 76 21 97 31.15% 18.26% M *
31 Technology Challenge Utilizing 14 2 17 5.74% 1.74% m
32 Technology Problem Solving Utilizing 68 12 80 27.87% 10.43% M *
33 Transportation Modeling Utilizing 16 1 17 6.56% 0.87% M *
25 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
Cummings, J. (1998). Foreword. In B. L. Rider (Ed.),
Diversity in technology education (pp. iii-v). New York:
Foster, W. T. (1996). Technology, the arts, and social
constructivism: R2D2 meets Degas. In R. L. Custer & A.
E. Wiens (Eds.), Technology and the quality of life (pp.
239-272). New York: Glencoe.
Haynie, W. J. (1999). Cross-gender interaction in technology
education: A survey. Journal of Technology Education,
Haynie, W. J. (2003). Gender issues in technology education:
A quasi ethnographic interview approach. Journal of
Technology Education, 15(1), 15-29.
Hill, C. E. (1998). Women as technology educators. In B. L.
Rider (Ed.), Diversity in technology education (pp. 57-75).
New York: Glencoe.
International Technology Education Association (ITEA/
ITEEA). (1994). ITEA strategic plan: Advancing
technological literacy. Reston, VA: Author.
Lee, J. A. (2008). Gender equity issues in technology
education: A qualitative approach to uncovering the
barriers. Unpublished Dissertation, North Carolina
State University. Available at: www.lib.ncsu.edu/theses/
Liedtke, J. (1995). Changing the organizational culture of
technology education to attract minorities and women.
The Technology Teacher, 54(6), 9-14.
Markert, L. R. (1996). Gender related to success in science
and technology. The Journal of Technology Studies, 22(2),
Mitts, C. R. (2008). Technology education and gender
preferences in TSA Competitions. Journal of Technology
Education, 19(2), 80-93.
Sanders, M. (2001). New paradigm or old wine? The status
of technology education practice in the United States.
Journal of Technology Education, 12(2), 35-55.
Silverman, S. & Pritchard, A. M. (1996). Building their
future: Girls and technology education in Connecticut.
Journal of Technology Education, 7(2), 41-54.
Stephens, G. (1996). Technology, crime & civil liberties. In
R. L. Custer & A. E. Wiens (Eds.), Technology and the
quality of life (pp. 345-380). New York: Glencoe.
Trautman, D. K., Hayden, T. E., & Smink, J. M. (1995).
Women surviving in technology education: What does it
take? The Technology Teacher, 54(5), 39-42.
Varnado, T. E., Haynie, W. J., & Lee, J. A. (N.D.). Perceptions
of female university students in technology education.
Unpublished research project in progress at North
Carolina State University.
Volk, K., & Holsey, L. (1997). TAP: A gender equity program
in high technology. The Technology Teacher, 56(4), 10-13.
Weber, K. & Custer, R. (2005). Gender-based preferences
toward technology education content, activities, and
instructional methods. Journal of Technology Education
Wolters, F. K. & Fridgen, J. D. (1996). The impact of
technology on leisure. In R. L. Custer & A. E. Wiens
(Eds.), Technology and the quality of life (pp. 459-500).
New York: Glencoe.
Zuga, K. F. (1998). A historical view of women’s roles in
technology education. In B. L. Rider (Ed.), Diversity in
technology education (pp. 13-35). New York: Glencoe.
Charles R. Mitts is a technology education
teacher at Larry A. Ryle High School,
Union, KY. He can be reached via email at
W. J. Haynie, III, Ph.D. is Professor and
Coordinator, Technology, Engineering
and Design Education at North Carolina
State University in Raleigh, NC. He can be
reached via email at Jim_Haynie@ncsu.edu.
This is a refereed article.
Part of the “Complete Classroom”
The original “Rationale and
Structure” document underwent
a major rewrite in 2006.
This enhanced version provides
a logical transition from
the 10 universals from the
first edition into the 20 technological
Also included are sections on
teaching technology in Grades K-12 and beyond.
Make sure you have all the tools you and your students
need to be successful in the classroom!
Technological Literacy for All/P214CD To order, download
(www.iteea.org/Publications/pubsorderform.pdf) and fax
(703-860-0353) an order form or call 703-860-2100
26 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
Pop Fly: Hands-On Challenge
Engage Your Students in Learning about Levers with PBS’s Design Squad TM
By Lauren Feinberg
"Pop Fly is so simple and open-ended that I do it with kids of all levels. They really get into it and come up with totally wild designs!”
—Vic Stefan, Technology Education Teacher, Hartville, Ohio
Explore levers with your students and reinforce the engineering design process with the hands-on activity Pop Fly. You can use
Design Squad’s online library of simple machine-related activities, animations, episodes, video clips, and profiles of young
engineers to enhance the experience and deepen students’ understanding of levers and related engineering concepts. Here’s how.
Pop Fly is one of 40 hands-on
activities on the Design Squad
website that correspond to ITEEA’s
STL content standards.
Download the activity sheet
(And Feet-On, Too!)
In Pop Fly, kids use the design
process to invent a way to send a
Ping-Pong® ball flying high enough
to catch it. They’ll use paint stirrers,
a wooden spool, tape, and . . . their
feet. Ready, set, launch!
Identify the Problem
Help your students understand the problem they need to
solve. Discuss with them this question: How can you launch
a Ping-Pong ball into the air? Show the animation How
Does a Lever Work? to introduce levers and illustrate the
relationship between force and distance.
27 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
Use Design Squad’s 46 animations to visually
explain concepts, like levers. Each one is
about 30 seconds and can be downloaded at
Ping-Pong is a registered trademark of Sop Services, Inc.
Brainstorm and Design
Prompt your students to think about how they can use
levers in their designs—to convert a small motion (like the
flick of a foot) into a large motion (like the end of the lever
flinging a Ping-Pong ball into the air). Have them identify a
goal—height, distance, or accuracy—then sketch out their
Build and Test
Provide materials and get students building. Have them
test their Pop Fly launchers as they go. Is the Ping-Pong ball
launching as high or as far as they’d like it to?
Kids get a sense of their
own resourcefulness and
creativity by telling others
what they’ve achieved.
Encourage your students
to share their Pop Fly
designs and sketches
with each other and with
the world in the online
Design Squad Exchange.
The Wishes feature lets
kids share their ideas—or
In the DS Xchange, kids can post their wishes and
help answer other kids’ wishes by sketching or
building prototypes, then sharing them at pbskids.
new, better, or different, and provides an opportunity for
them to work together to find solutions. Ideas are, after all,
the start of the engineering design process.
Swing Batter! A Real-World
Give your students a context for what they’ve learned by
showing them how levers are used in lots of everyday things
(pinball machine games, seesaws, and baseball bats, for
example). Show kids the D-Squad Pro File of Curtis Cruz
and Becky O’Hara, two engineers who make baseball bats
for Rawlings Sporting Goods.
Watch levers in action in Design Squad’s Moving Target episode, where teams build
indestructible, remote-controlled, flying football targets for Nerf toymaker Hasbro. Stream
it at pbskids.org/designsquad/season3.
Evaluate and Redesign
Have your students think about what works and what could work
better. Extend the challenge. How can they send the ball higher,
farther, or toward a target? Can they launch two balls at once?
In two-minute D-Squad Pro Files, kids see real engineers with diverse and creative
engineering careers. Download or stream videos at pbskids.org/designsquad/parentseducators/download_video.html.
Pop Fly corresponds to ITEEA’s STL content standards 1, 2, 9, 10, 11, and 12.
Design Squad and STEM
"Design Squad is as hands-on as
television can be, exposing kids
to real-world applications of
science and math and modeling
how engineers use the design
process. It’s a great resource for
educators who want to cover
their requisite curriculum
through an innovative approach
—Marisa Wolsky, Executive
Producer of Design Squad
Watch Engineers Do Pop Fly
Meet Judy and Adam—engineers in Design Squad’s new season (look for more details
soon). See how inventive they get with their Pop Fly solutions in a two-minute video,
streaming online at pbskids.org/designsquad/projects/video.html.
More Levers and Simple Machines
Extend your students’ learning with more hands-on challenges. Check out the Design Squad website for six activity
guides with leader notes, reproducible activity sheets, and other valuable resources at pbskids.org/designsquad/
parentseducators. Look for these activities that also incorporate levers and simple machines:
• Kicking Machine: Build a machine that kicks balls across the floor.
• Extreme Kicking Machine: Add more features to your Kicking Machine.
• Confetti Launcher: Invent a device to launch a big cloud of confetti.
Order a printed copy of The Design Squad Teacher’s Guide! Go to pbskids.org/designsquad/engineers/newsletter.html.
Lauren Feinberg is an associate editor at
WGBH Boston. The activity featured in this
article was developed by the Educational
Outreach department. WGBH is PBS’s single
largest producer of TV and Web content, serving
the nation and the world with media resources
that inform, inspire, and entertain.
29 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
Advancing STEM Education:
A 2020 Vision
By Rodger W. Bybee
Now is the time to move beyond
the slogan and make STEM
literacy for all students an
When STEM education first appeared, it caught
the attention of several groups. Botanical
scientists were elated, as they thought educators
had finally realized the importance of a main
part of plants. Technologists and engineers were excited,
because they thought it referred to a part of the watch.
Wine connoisseurs also were enthusiastic, as they thought
it referred to the slender support of a wine glass. And,
political conservatives were worried, because they thought
it was a new educational emphasis supporting stem cell
research. Actually, none of these perceptions of STEM meet
the current use as an acronym for Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Mathematics education.
STEM had its origins in the 1990s at the National Science
Foundation (NSF) and has been used as a generic label
for any event, policy, program, or practice that involves
one or several of the STEM disciplines. However, a
recent survey on the “perception of STEM” found that
most professionals in STEM-related fields lacked an
understanding of the acronym STEM. Most respondents
linked the acronym to “stem cell research” or to plants
(Keefe, 2010). Once again, the education community has
embraced a slogan without really taking the time to clarify
what the term might mean when applied beyond a general
label. When most individuals use the term STEM, they
mean whatever they meant in the past. So STEM is usually
interpreted to mean science or math. Seldom does it refer
to technology or engineering, and this is an issue that must
If STEM education is going to advance beyond a slogan,
educators in the STEM community will have to clarify
what the acronym actually means for educational
policies, programs, and practices. The following
discussion presents several things that STEM might
mean for contemporary education. First, it may mean
recognition that science education has been diminished
during the No Child Left Behind era, which is ending.
The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act (ESEA) could underscore the importance
of science, and by their close association, technology and
engineering, in school programs.
Second, based on the observation that STEM is often a
term for science or mathematics, STEM should mean
increased emphasis of technology in school programs. With
reference to technology, there are very few other things that
influence our everyday existence more and about which
citizens know less. It is time to change this situation. I am
referring to a perspective and education programs larger
than Information Communication Technology (ICT). ICT
is, of course, part of technology programs. Third, STEM
could mean increasing the recognition of engineering in
K-12 education. Engineering is directly involved in problem
solving and innovation, two popular themes (Lichtenberg,
Woock, & Wright, 2008). Engineering has some presence in
our schools, but certainly not the amount consistent with
its careers and contributions to society. If the nation is truly
interested in innovation, recognizing the T and E in STEM
30 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
would certainly be worth emphasizing (Katehi, Pearson, &
Fourth, all STEM disciplines present opportunities for
stressing 21st Century skills. Students can develop 21st
Century skills such as adaptability, complex communication,
social skills, nonroutine problem solving, self-management/
self-development, and systems thinking (NRC, 2010). In
STEM programs, student investigations and projects present
the time and opportunity for teachers to help students
develop 21st Century skills.
Fifth, STEM could mean an integrated curricular
approach to studying grand challenges of our era. I am
referring to challenges such as: energy efficiency, resource
use, environmental quality, and hazard mitigation. The
competencies that citizens need in order to understand and
address issues such as these are clearly related to the STEM
disciplines, which should be understood before addressing
other disciplines such as economics and politics.
Now is the time to move beyond the slogan and make
STEM literacy for all students an educational priority. The
public may be ready for such a reform (Johnson, Rochkind,
& Ott, 2010).
Clarifying the Purpose of STEM Education
Clarifying STEM literacy and establishing this as a
fundamental purpose of school programs is a first step in
advancing STEM education. The following description is
modified from the PISA 2006 Science framework (OECD,
2006). In general, STEM literacy includes the conceptual
understandings and procedural skills and abilities for
individuals to address STEM-related personal, social, and
global issues. STEM literacy involves the integration of
STEM disciplines and four interrelated and complementary
components. STEM literacy refers to the following:
• Acquiring scientific, technological, engineering, and
mathematical knowledge and using that knowledge to
identify issues, acquire new knowledge, and apply the
knowledge to STEM-related issues.
• Understanding the characteristic features of STEM
disciplines as forms of human endeavors that include
the processes of inquiry, design, and analysis.
• Recognizing how STEM disciplines shape our material,
intellectual, and cultural world.
• Engaging in STEM-related issues and with the ideas of
science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as
concerned, affective, and constructive citizens.
Translating this description of STEM literacy into school
programs and instructional practices requires a way of
organizing education so the respective disciplines can be
integrated and instructional materials designed, developed,
and implemented. Educators must confront and resolve a
number of challenges if they are to advance STEM literacy.
Addressing Challenges to Advancing STEM
Advancing STEM education presents several significant
challenges. Use of the acronym and the associated ambiguity
has served as a rallying point for policy makers and some
educators. The power of STEM, however, diminishes quite
rapidly as one moves away from national policies and
toward the realization of STEM in educational programs.
Here, I am not implying changes in the individual “silos” of
STEM; rather I am referring to an integrated perspective of
STEM as a long-term goal (Sanders, 2009). So, let’s examine
some of the challenges.
The first challenge involves actively including technology
and engineering in school programs. Although one can
identify technology and engineering programs, the scale
at which they are in schools is generally quite low. Scaling
up technology and engineering courses and appropriately
including the T and E in science and mathematics education
seem reasonable ways to meet this challenge. Note, however,
that this approach maintains a “silo” orientation for the
Suggesting that technology and engineering be incorporated
in science education is not new. Science for All Americans
(AAAS, 1989) and subsequently Benchmarks for Science
Literacy (AAAS, 1993) and the National Science Education
Standards (NRC, 1996), all included standards related to
technology and engineering. For example, Science for All
Americans set the stage with discussions of “Engineering
Combines Scientific Inquiry and Practical Values” and “The
Essence of Engineering is Design Under Constraint (AAAS,
1989, pp. 40-41). In 1996, the National Science Education
Standards included standards on Science and Technology
for all grade levels, K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. One of the standards
directly addressed the “abilities of technological design” as a
complement to the abilities and understandings of scientific
In addition, there are two very significant initiatives
supporting technology and engineering education. First,
in March 2010, the National Assessment Governing Board
(NAGB) approved the framework for a national assessment
of technology and engineering, scheduled for 2014. Second,
the new common core standards for science will support
these initial standards-based initiatives by including
technology and engineering standards.
31 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
One of the most significant challenges centers on
introducing STEM-related issues such as energy efficiency,
climate change, and hazard mitigation and developing the
competencies to address the issues students will confront as
citizens. Addressing this challenge requires an educational
approach that first places life situations and global issues in
a central position and uses the four disciplines of STEM to
understand and address the problem. This has been referred
to as context-based science education (Fensham, 2009)
and could easily be represented as context-based STEM
education. Figure 1 is a framework of contexts adapted
from PISA Science 2006, but they certainly could represent
curricular topics for context-based STEM education.
The educational approach emphasizes competency in
addressing the situation, problem, or issue, and not
exclusively knowledge of concepts and processes within
the respective STEM disciplines. Figure 2 presents
competencies that could be used as learning outcomes for
Frontiers of science,
(Self, family, and peer groups)
Maintenance of health,
Personal use of energy, emphasis
on conservation and efficiency
Personal consumption of
behavior, use and disposal of
Natural and human-induced,
decisions about housing
Interest in science’s explanations
of natural phenomena, sciencebased
hobbies, sport and leisure,
music and personal technology
Control of disease, social
transmission, food choices,
Conservation of energy, transition to
efficient use and nonfossil fuels
Maintenance of human populations,
quality of life, security, production
and distribution of food, energy
Population distribution, disposal of
waste, environmental impact, local
Rapid changes (earthquakes, severe
weather), slow and progressive
changes (coastal erosion,
sedimentation), risk assessment
New materials, devices, and
processes, genetic modification,
weapons technology, transport
(Life across the world)
Epidemics, spread of
Figure 1. Contexts for STEM Education
Note. Adapted from: Assessing scientific, reading and mathematical literacy: A framework for PISA 2006 (OECD, 2006)
Identifying STEM issues
• Recognizing issues that are possible to describe from a STEM perspective
• Identifying keywords to search for STEM information
• Recognizing the key concepts from STEM disciplines
Explaining issues from STEM perspectives
• Applying knowledge of STEM in a given situation
• Describing or interpreting phenomena using STEM perspectives and predicting changes
• Identifying appropriate descriptions, explanations, solutions, and predictions
Using STEM information
• Interpreting STEM information and making and communicating conclusions
• Identifying the assumptions, evidence, and reasoning behind conclusions
• Reflecting on the societal implications of STEM developments
Figure 2. STEM Competencies
Note. Adapted from: Assessing scientific, reading, and mathematical literacy: A framework for PISA
2006 (OECD, 2006).
Global consequences, use and
conservation of energy
Renewable and nonrenewable,
natural systems, population
growth, sustainable use
sustainability, control of
pollution, production, and loss
Climate change, impact of
Extinction of species,
exploration of space, origin and
structure of the universe
32 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
Innovative changes implied by this discussion should be
initiated with curriculum supplements that demonstrate
a change in emphasis within many K-12 programs. This
approach is modest but achievable, since such changes
take advantage of opportunities that exist within current
Advancing STEM: A Curricular Theory of Action
The theory of action centers on model instructional units
that are based on contemporary issues in the contextual
categories described in Figure 1. These instructional units
would be of varying lengths for elementary, middle, and high
school levels, perhaps 2, 4, and 6 weeks at the respective
levels. So, I am not suggesting a complete reform of the
STEM education system. Although the units would present
an integrated approach to STEM-related issues, the units
could be introduced in the “silos” of STEM school programs.
Using model instructional units as the basis for introducing
an integrated approach to STEM education will present a
challenge, but the fact that the units are brief and can be
accommodated within current programs makes the goal
achievable. This approach is a positive and constructive
response to classroom teachers’ requests for instructional
materials that both exemplify the innovation and are easy
for them to implement. Further, they provide opportunities
• Based on Learning Research described in several NRC
reports; e.g., How People Learn (NRC, 2000), Taking
Science to School (NRC, 2007).
• Represent an Integrated Instructional Sequence as
recommended in America’s Lab Report (NRC, 2006); i.e.,
an instructional model.
• Developed Using Backward Design (see Wiggins and
• Emphasize Competencies
• Include Opportunities to Develop 21st Century Workforce
Skills (e.g., NRC, 2010)
• Present Units Lasting:
Ÿ Elementary (K-5) 2 weeks
Ÿ Middle (6-8) 4 weeks
Ÿ High (9-12) 6 weeks
• Field-Tested and Revised Based on Feedback and
Evidence of Effectiveness.
• Contextual issues related to STEM as central theme of
units (see Figure 1).
Figure 3. Design Specifications for Exemplary STEM Units
for professional development. Figure 3 outlines design
specifications for the proposed instructional units.
The instructional approach begins with a challenge or
problem that engages students. The challenge is appropriate
to their age, grade, and developmental stage. As they explore
options and gain an understanding of the problem, they
must “reach out” to the respective STEM disciplines and
apply knowledge and skills to the problem. The knowledge
and skills that students use in the development of the model
units and that they use to design solutions would be from
various documents such as common core standards and
the NAEP technology and engineering literacy framework.
Figure 4 presents a framework characterizing the central
emphasis on contextual problems and the connections
among STEM disciplines.
NAEP 2009 Framework
Common Core Science
Common Core Standards
Figure 4. A Framework for Model STEM Units
• ITEA Standards
• NAEP 2012
• Common Core Science
• Common Core Science
• NAE Reports
Advancing STEM: A Decade of Action
This section describes the larger picture of how we can
initiate and bring about the changes described in the last
section to a scale that matters within the U.S. education
Achieving higher levels of STEM literacy cannot be
accomplished quickly; it will take a minimum of ten years.
Figure 5 presents specifications for phases and goals for a
LIFE AND WORK SITUATIONS
THAT INVOLVE STEM
(e.g., Environment, Resources,
Health, Hazards, Frontiers)
33 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
Phase Timeline Goal
Initiating the STEM education reform Two years Design, develop, and implement model instructional units
Bringing the STEM reform to scale Six years Change policies, programs, and practices at local, state, and
Sustaining the STEM education reform Two years Build capacity at the local level for continuous improvement
of school science and technology programs
Evaluating the STEM education reform Continuous, with a major
evaluation in 10 years
Provide formative and summative data on the nature and
results of the reform efforts
Figure 5. A Decade of Action: Phases and Goals
decade of reform centering on advancing STEM education
in the United States.
The primary work for the initial phase of reform occurs
in the first two years. This phase would be “Introducing
little changes with big effects.” This phase centers on the
funding and the development of model STEM units. The
model STEM units use major contexts as the “topics,”
(e.g., energy efficiency, hazard mitigation, and health) and
emphasize competencies as learning outcomes. This phase
includes field-testing and final production of the units and
complementary assessments. Participating districts select
schools, and implementation begins with accompanying
Providing model STEM units, professional development,
and exemplary assessment at the elementary, middle, and
high school levels would have an impact on the system,
increase understanding and acceptance of STEM among
school personnel, increase support by policy makers and
administrators, and promote understanding by the public.
The units would provide a basis for answering the public’s
questions about what changes involve and why they are
important—especially for children.
The second phase is “Systemic changes that make a
difference.” Bringing the reform to scale takes six years.
After the initial phase, efforts to bring the reform to a
significant scale expand. Evaluations of teachers’ responses
and students’ achievement, abilities, and attributes are
reviewed and analyzed. These data form the basis for
revision of the original models of instructional units, the
development of new models of instructional units, and a
compelling case statement for the continued expansion of
the reform. This phase includes major efforts to review and
revise state policies and standards and create new criteria
for local and state adoptions of instructional materials.
Publishers would begin developing new editions of core
and supplemental programs. Through this entire period,
professional development of STEM teachers continues.
Districts begin the process of selecting and implementing
curricula that emphasizes STEM literacy as they become
available. Professional development aligned with the new
programs is ongoing. The central goal of this phase is to
revise local, state, and national policies, develop new school
programs, and align teaching practices with the goals of
By the end of this phase, states would have new standards
and assessments, new teacher certification requirements
would be in place, new instructional materials for core
and supplemental programs would be available, and the
professional development of teachers would be aligned with
the new priorities. This phase likely would present the most
difficulty as policy makers and educators directly confront
resistance to change and criticism of the new initiatives and
changes in policies, programs, and practices.
The work of sustaining “building local capacity for a national
purpose” is concentrated in the final two years of the decade.
The work focuses on building local capacity for ongoing
improvement of STEM education at the district level. These
efforts phase out the use of external funds for the reform
effort and phase in school districts’ use of resources in
response to the new advances in science and technology and
the implied changes for the school programs.
Evaluation involves continuous feedback about the work
and changes in content and curricula, teachers and teaching,
and assessment and accountability. Clearly, feedback
occurs during all phases for “monitoring and adjusting
to change.” The feedback informs judgments about the
models of instructional units and issues associated with
their implementation and the professional development
of teachers. Evaluations and feedback are conducted
and available at the school district, state, national, and
even international levels. School districts and states
implement their own evaluations. Results from the
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and
international assessments TIMSS and PISA also provide
feedback about the progress of reform efforts.
34 • Technology and Engineering Teacher • September 2010
In the late 1950s, this nation responded to national and
international challenges with a major curriculum reform.
The reform took a decade and lasted a decade or more.
Advancing STEM education with a 2020 vision could
respond to myriad contemporary challenges the nation
American Association for the Advancement of Science
(AAAS). (1993). Benchmarks for science literacy. New
York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Fensham, P. (2009). Real world contexts in PISA science:
Implications for context-based science education. Journal
of Research in Science Teaching, 46(8): 884-896.
Garmire, E. & Pearson G. (Eds.). (2006). Tech tally:
Approaches to assessing technological literacy.
Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
International Technology Education Association (ITEA/
ITEEA). (2000/2002/2007). Standards for technological
literacy: Content for the Study of Technology. Reston, VA:
Johnson, J., Richkind, J., & Ott, A. (2010). Are we beginning
to see the light? Public Agenda Survey.
Katehi, L., Pearson, G., & Feder, M. (Eds.). (2009).
Engineering in K-12 education: Understanding the status
and improving the prospects. Washington, DC: National
Keefe, B. (2010). The perception of STEM: Analysis, issues,
and future directions. Survey. Entertainment and Media
Lichtenberg, J., Woock, C., & Wright, M. (2008). Ready to
innovate: Are educators and executives aligned on the
creative readiness of the U.S. workforce? Conference
Board, Research Report 1424, New York: Conference
National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). (2008).
NAEP 2009 science framework. (Using Technological
National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). (2010).
NAEP technology and engineering framework. NAGB.
National Research Council (NRC). (1996). National
science education standards. Washington, DC: National
National Research Council (NRC). (2010). Exploring the
intersection of science education and 21st century skills:
A workshop summary. Washington, DC: National
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD). (2006). Assessing scientific, reading and
mathematical literacy: A framework for PISA 2006. Paris:
Pearson, F. & Young, A.T. (Eds.). (2002). Technically
speaking: Why all Americans need to know more about
technology. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Rutherford, F. J., & Ahlgren, A. (1989). Science for all
Americans. New York: Oxford University Press.
Sanders, M. (2009). Integrative STEM education primer. The
Technology Teacher, 68(4). 20-26.
Rodger W. Bybee, Ph.D., is director
emeritus of BSCS. Prior to joining BSCS,
he was executive director of the National
Research Council’s Center for Science,
Mathematics, and Engineering Education
(CSMEE) in Washington, D.C.
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