October 2007 - Vol 67, No. 2 - International Technology and ...

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October 2007 - Vol 67, No. 2 - International Technology and ...

model program: BRITISH SCHOOLS OF america • engine design and construction in the classroom

Technology

TEACHER

The Voice of Technology Education

the

October 2007

Volume 67 • Number 2

Barbara Morgan

Takes Teaching

Into Space!

Exploring an AP ® Course of Study in Engineering

www.iteaconnect.org


It pays to be early.

Literally.

ITEA members who preregister for the 2008 Salt Lake Conference

before January 18, 2008 will save nearly 15% over the onsite registration rate.

Names of those who preregister will be entered into a drawing for a

$100 Visa Gift Card.

Book your hotel before January 18 using the ITEA Room Block

to save over 30% on a hotel room!*

Remember, the conference is EARLY this year!

Mark your calendar for February 21-23, 2008.

You won’t want to miss:

• Keynote address by educator astronaut Barbara R. Morgan

• Keynote address by Robert Ballard of the JASON Project

• Over 100 Professional Development Learning Sessions

• Dozens of cutting-edge vendors, bringing the latest in materials, equipment, and services

• Seven specialized workshop topics, including Robotics, Flash Animation, and Engineering

Concepts

• Educational/Industry Tours covering Communications, Medical, Mining, Aviation and

Aerospace Technologies

Be the early bird. Catch the worm. Register today!

www.iteaconnect.org

*Based on Internet rates for a February 20-24, 2008 stay at the SLC Marriott Downtown, retrieved August 29, 2007.


Contents

october • VOL. 67 • NO. 2

5

Educational Horsepower:

Engine Design and Construction

in the Classroom

A brief history of engines, as well as the

concept of engine construction as a viable

activity in the technology education classroom.

BRAD CHRISTENSEN

Barbara Morgan

Takes Teaching

Into Space

page 31

Departments

1

2

Web News

TIDE News

3 Calendar

11 Resources

in Technology

22 Classroom

Challenge

Features

18 Exploring an Advanced Placement® (AP ® ) Course of Study in

Engineering

Describes and summarizes the motivations, results, and next steps from a Pre-AP ® in

engineering research project.

Leigh Abts

26

NEW!

NEW FEATURE!

Model Program: The British Schools of America

Publisher, Kendall N. Starkweather, DTE

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

Editor, Kathie F. Cluff

ITEA Board of Directors

Andy Stephenson, DTE, President

Ken Starkman, Past President

Len Litowitz, DTE, President-Elect

Doug Miller, Director, ITEA-CS

Scott Warner, Director, Region I

Lauren Withers Olson, Director, Region II

Steve Meyer, Director, Region III

Richard (Rick) Rios, Director, Region IV

Michael DeMiranda, Director, CTTE

Peter Wright, Director, TECA

Vincent Childress, Director, TECC

Kendall N. Starkweather, DTE, CAE,

Executive Director

ITEA is an affiliate of the American Association

for the Advancement of Science.

The Technology Teacher, ISSN: 0746-3537,

is published eight times a year (September

through June with combined December/January

and May/June issues) by the International

Technology Education Association, 1914

Association Drive, Suite 201, Reston, VA

20191. Subscriptions are included in

member dues. U.S. Library and nonmember

subscriptions are $80; $90 outside the U.S.

Single copies are $8.50 for members; $9.50

for nonmembers, plus shipping—domestic

@ $5.00 and outside the U.S. @ $11.00

(Airmail).

The Technology Teacher is listed in the

Educational Index and the Current Index to

Journal in Education. Volumes are available on

Microfiche from University Microfilm, P.O. Box

1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106.

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ITEA Publications Department

703-860-2100

Fax: 703-860-0353

Subscription Claims

All subscription claims must be made within 60

days of the first day of the month appearing on

the cover of the journal. For combined issues,

claims will be honored within 60 days from

the first day of the last month on the cover.

Because of repeated delivery problems outside

the continental United States, journals will be

shipped only at the customer’s risk. ITEA will

ship the subscription copy but assumes no

responsibility thereafter.

Change of Address

Send change of address notification promptly.

Provide old mailing label and new address.

Include zip + 4 code. Allow six weeks for

change.

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Send address change to: The Technology

Teacher, Address Change, ITEA, 1914

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E-mail: kdelapaz@iteaconnect.org

World Wide Web: www.iteaconnect.org

PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER


Now Available on the

ITEA Website:

The Space Shuttle Endeavour may be back on earth,

but the Design Challenges continue! Get the up-todate

information about the mission, the challenges,

and Barbara Morgan.

www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/

shuttlemissions/sts118/index.html

Salt Lake in 2008

How do I register? Where do I stay? Who will I see there?

Register before January 18 and save. Go to www.iteaconnect.org/

conferenceguide.htm for all the latest information on ITEA’s 70th Annual

Conference in Salt Lake City on February 21-23, 2008.

Te c h nology

TEACHER

T h e Vo i c e o f Te c h n o l o g y E d u c a t i o n

the

Editorial Review Board

Cochairperson

Dan Engstrom, DTE

California University of PA

Steve Anderson

Nikolay Middle School, WI

Stephen Baird

Bayside Middle School, VA

Lynn Basham

VA Department of Education

Clare Benson

University of Central England

Mary Braden

Carver Magnet HS, TX

Jolette Bush

Midvale Middle School, UT

Philip Cardon

Eastern Michigan University

Michael Cichocki

Salisbury Middle School, PA

Mike Fitzgerald, DTE

IN Department of Education

Marie Hoepfl

Appalachian State Univ.

Laura Hummell

Manteo Middle School, NC

Cochairperson

Stan Komacek, DTE

California University of PA

Frank Kruth

South Fayette MS, PA

Linda Markert

SUNY at Oswego

Don Mugan

Valley City State University

Monty Robinson

Black Hills State University

Mary Annette Rose

Ball State University

Terrie Rust

Oasis Elementary School, AZ

Yvonne Spicer

Nat’l Center for Tech Literacy

Jerianne Taylor

Appalachian State University

Greg Vander Weil

Wayne State College

Eric Wiebe

North Carolina State Univ.

Editorial Policy

As the only national and international association dedicated

solely to the development and improvement of technology

education, ITEA seeks to provide an open forum for the free

exchange of relevant ideas relating to technology education.

Materials appearing in the journal, including

advertising, are expressions of the authors and do not

necessarily reflect the official policy or the opinion of the

association, its officers, or the ITEA Headquarters staff.

Grants, Scholarships, and Awards: The Time is NOW!

Who is eligible? How do I apply? When is the deadline?

Apply for ITEA’s Grants, Scholarships, and Awards. Go to www.iteaconnect.

org/Awards/awards.htm to see a dozen opportunities to gain recognition for

excellence in the field of technology education.

www.iteaconnect.org

Referee Policy

All professional articles in The Technology Teacher are

refereed, with the exception of selected association

activities and reports, and invited articles. Refereed articles

are reviewed and approved by the Editorial Board before

publication in The Technology Teacher. Articles with bylines

will be identified as either refereed or invited unless written

by ITEA officers on association activities or policies.

To Submit Articles

All articles should be sent directly to the Editor-in-Chief,

International Technology Education Association, 1914

Association Drive, Suite 201, Reston, VA 20191-1539.

Please submit articles and photographs via email

to kdelapaz@iteaconnect.org. Maximum length for

manuscripts is eight pages. Manuscripts should be prepared

following the style specified in the Publications Manual of

the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition.

Editorial guidelines and review policies are available by

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

Publications/Submissionguidelines.htm. Contents copyright

© 2007 by the International Technology Education

Association, Inc., 703-860-2100.

1 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


TIDE News

Need Financial Assistance to Attend the ITEA Conference?

Try These Tips

Before you apply for financial assistance:

• Compile facts on the ITEA 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 Technology

Festival.

• Have a small budget put together based upon the costs

involved.

• Apply to be a Teacher or Program Excellence winner.

ITEA Conference Planning is Under Way

Mark your calendar now to attend ITEA’s 70 th Annual

Conference, Teaching TIDE with Pride, in Salt Lake

City February 21-23, 2008. For three days, you’ll attend

information-packed sessions to learn key strategies that will

help you to remain at the top of your teaching profession.

Leading-edge keynote presentations are planned, with

invited speakers Barbara Morgan and Dr. Raymond Ballard.

ITEA member Morgan is NASA’s first educator mission

specialist. She was selected to train as a mission specialist

in 1998 and was named to the STS 118 crew in 2002.

Dr. Ballard founded The JASON Project in 1989, a nonprofit

subsidiary of the National Geographic Society. The

JASON Project delivers middle-grade curricula, developed

in conjunction with research explorations currently underway

at NOAA, NASA, and National Geographic. Through

Jason’s standards-based curricula and advanced technology,

students learn by “joining” scientists on their missions.

In addition to these high-caliber keynote presentations,

we’ve carved out plenty of time to allow you to network

with your colleagues and share ideas in over 100 professional

development learning sessions. There are also seven

specialized workshops scheduled as well as traditional

meal events like the Yearbook Dinner and ITEA Awards

Luncheon.

On Thursday and Friday, you will meet top corporate leaders

at the ITEA Exhibits and also hear about the latest offerings

during the special Action Labs, presented by cutting-edge

companies.

The ITEA Conference provides the perfect combination of

top-notch educational sessions, networking activities, and

plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy all that Salt Lake

City has to offer.

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

education.

• Contact your district or state supervisor who deals

with technology education.

• Do a search of local educational foundations.

• Check with your local teachers’ union.

For more detailed information about funding, go to

www.iteaconnect.org/Conference/funding.htm.

Preregistration Discounts

The ITEA Salt Lake City conference is almost a full

month earlier this year, so please note that the preregistration

deadline is earlier than usual too. To stretch your

budget money, be sure to take advantage of the special

preregistration pricing. Register prior to January 18, 2008

and you can save nearly 15% on conference registration

fees. ITEA Professional Members will pay $269 for a full

conference registration prior to January 18, 2008 ($309

on-site), nonmembers will pay $349 prior to January 18,

2008 ($389 on-site) and Student Members will pay $59

prior to January 18, 2008 ($69 on-site). Encourage your

colleagues to register early to take advantage of these special

prices, and remember that nonmembers can also take

advantage of ITEA’s half-price membership special (for new

members only—contact Lari Price at lprice@iteaconnect.

org for membership details). Check www.iteaconnect.org/

Conference/ conferenceguide.htm for complete conference

and registration information.

ITEA Members Pass Bylaws Change

ITEA’s professional and life members have approved a

measure, via ballot, to change the organization’s bylaws.

2 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


Calendar

The change includes expanding leadership initiatives in

the teaching of and learning about technological literacy

to include technology, innovation, design, and engineering

(TIDE) education. ITEA has been using the TIDE acronym

for the past few years to accurately describe the curriculum

area being served by the profession. Ninety-four percent of

respondents approved the change.

Other changes included the adjustment of membership

categories to include “advocate” and “museum”

memberships to be promoted in the coming years.

Part of ITEA’s mission is to reach out to individuals or

organizations that, while not directly involved in classroom

teaching, do have an interest in promoting technological

literacy. Finally, adjustments were approved that simplify the

descriptions of duties of ITEA Board of Directors positions.

The updated ITEA Bylaws may be accessed by entering

“Members Only” from the ITEA website at

www.iteaconnect.org.

Calendar

October 11-13, 2007 The state of New Hampshire will

host the New England Association of Technology Teachers

(NEATT) conference, “A NEATT Foundation to Build

Upon,” in Worcester, MA. For immediate updates, check the

NEATT website at www.neatt.org/.

October 18-20, 2007 The Florida Technology Education

Association will hold its 78 th annual professional development

conference, “Inspiring today, applying tomorrow,”

at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Harbourside in Indian

Rocks Beach. Information is available at www.ftea.com/

conferences_&_workshops.htm.

October 19, 2007 The Technology Education Association

of Maryland will present its Seventh Annual Technology

Education TECH EXPO 2007 at the Baltimore Museum of

Industry in Baltimore, MD. The theme this year is “TEAM’s

All Star Line-Up: CATTS, PLTW, STEM and VSC.” This is

TEAM’s Annual Conference for all technology education

teachers and supervisors in the State of Maryland. To

help or participate, contact Will Johnson, EXPO 2007

Coordinator, at wdjwin@aol.com. Additional information

can be found at www.techedmd.org/conference.htm.

October 19-20, 2007 The 14 th Annual Illinois Technology

Education Conference (ITEC) will be held at the Peoria

Holiday Inn Centre inPeoria, IL. ITEC has secured an

award-winning teacher, Joseph Fatheree, Illinois Teacher

of the Year 2006-07, as keynote speaker. Joe, a technology

educator at Effingham High School, is best known for his

work in the field of technology integration and curriculum

development. For more information visit www.teai.net.

October 25-26, 2007 The Department of Technology,

State University of New York at Oswego, presents its 68 th fall

conference for technology teachers and other professionals:

Technology Education: Inspiring Outstanding Performance,”

on the Oswego campus in Wilber, Park, and Sheldon halls.

New this year are sessions on technology education for

science and mathematics elementary classes to encourage

integrative learning. For more information, visit www.

fallconference.com or contact Judith Belt, Conference Chair

at jbelt@oswego.edu.

October 25-27, 2007 The Society of Women Engineers

will present its 2007 National Conference, “Women IN

TUNE with TECHNOLOGY,” at the Nashville Convention

Center in Nashville, TN. Conference tracks are Professional

Development, Technology, Career Transition, Academic

Diversity, and Leadership Coaching. The conference will

include presentations, workshops and sessions, panel

discussions, Career Enhancement Series (CES), poster

presentations, tours, and local community outreach in

addition to its 2007 Career Fair. For complete conference

information, visit www.swe.org/2007.

October 27, 2007 The Ohio Technology Education

Association (OTEA) Fall Conference will focus on the

role of technology education as a STEM partner. Contact

Timothy Tryon at Timothy878@zoominternet.net for

details.

November 1-2, 2007 The 22nd Annual Colorado

Technology Education Conference, “Reaching New Heights,”

will take place at the Copper Conference Center in Copper

Mountain, CO. Complete information about the conference

is available at www.cteaonline.org/.

November 8-9, 2007 The Technology Education

Association of Pennsylvania (TEAP) will hold its 55 th

Annual Conference at the Radisson Penn Harris Conference

Center in Camp Hill, PA. Visit the TEAP website at

www.teap-online.org/index2.htm and click on “conference”

for complete information.

November 9-11, 2007 The Institute of Electrical and

Electronic Engineers (IEEE) will present a special conference

in Munich, Germany: “Meeting the Growing Demand

for Engineers and Their Educators 2010-2020 Summit.”

Complete information can be accessed at www.ieee.org/

web/education/preuniversity/globalsummit.

3 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


January 18, 2008 Preregistration deadline for money saving

discounts on registration fees for ITEA’s Salt Lake City

Conference, February 21-23, 2008. Register early and save!

February 17-23, 2008 Engineers Week 2008, cochaired

by IBM and the Chinese Institute of Engineers-USA (CIE-

USA) will aim to make engineering a stronger, more diverse

profession by unveiling a broad program of outreach and

education efforts to encourage more women and other

diverse groups to consider engineering careers. Information

on all Engineers Week programs and events can be found at

www.eweek.org.

UT. The latest information and details are available

on the ITEA website at www.iteaconnect.org/Conference/

conferenceguide.htm.

March 28-29, 2008 The Ohio Technology Education

Association (OTEA) Annual Spring Conference will be held

at Worthington Kilbourne High School in Worthington,

OH. The conference will be an extension of the 2007 OTEA

Fall Conference, with topics of discussion focusing around

STEM and other educational topics. Visit www.otea.info for

the latest details.

February 21-23, 2008 The 70 th Annual ITEA Conference,

“Teaching TIDE With Pride” will be held in Salt Lake City,

List your State/Province Association Conference in TTT

and Inside TIDE (ITEA’s electronic newsletter). Submit

conference title, date(s), location, and contact information (at

least two months prior to journal publication date) to kcluff@

iteaconnect.org.

WOODWORKING SYSTEM














visit our website at www.carvewright.com/itea or call us at 713-473-6572

4 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


Educational Horsepower:

Engine Design and Construction

in the Classroom

By Brad Christensen

Credit: IIHR Archive, IIHR – Hydroscience & Engineering, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

Assessment of student work with

traditional engine curriculum

can be quite simple; does it run?

Hero engine original sketch.

There is something about an engine that attracts attention.

Perhaps it is the rumbling noise of the Harley

Davidson 1200 twin, the power of a supercharged V-8

under the hood of a muscle car, or the synchronized

roar of a couple of Cat 3208s in a race boat. Maybe it is the

mechanical beauty of the cam, crank, pistons, and valves, all

moving in unison, or perhaps it’s the intoxicating smell of

fuel, oil, and exhaust. Whatever “it” is, engines have fascinated

“gear-heads” for centuries.

Hero of Alexandria is credited with demonstrating that

engines are possible. His work was completed sometime

between 100 BC and 100 AD (Figure 1). At the time,

this device was viewed rather suspiciously, and no applications

of this engine have been found. A simple Hero Engine

can be built using a soda can, a string, and a few candles

(Figure 2). A search of the Internet will provide many

additional examples.

John Newcomen invented the first practical application

of an engine in the early 1700s. His engine used a chain

attached to one end of a lever to lift the piston out of the

cylinder. Steam was injected into the cavity and immediately

condensed with a spray of cold water. The condensing

steam created a partial vacuum, drawing the piston down.

The reciprocating motion of the piston was used primarily

to pump water from mines.

The principle of the force of condensing steam can be demonstrated

by pouring a small amount of boiling water into a

plastic bottle. Once steam rises from the neck, screw on the

lid. As the steam condenses, the bottle will be crushed by

atmospheric pressure.

Students can calculate the force exerted by vacuum. Air

pressure at sea level is about 14.7 pounds per square inch.

If Newcomen’s engine produced a vacuum of only half of

5 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


the potential (7 psi), and he used a 24-inch diameter piston

(about 452 square inches), the piston would be pulled

(pushed) down with a force of about 3165 pounds (7 x 452).

No wonder he used a chain instead of a rope! These calculations

can be enhanced by including the mechanical advantage

of the first-class lever Newcomen used on the engine.

In the late 1700s, James Watt realized the inefficiency of first

heating, then cooling the steam inside the engine. He must

have also realized that the very best a vacuum engine could

achieve would be limited by atmospheric pressure. He redesigned

the Newcomen engine to use steam pressure to push

the piston, rather than vacuum caused by condensing steam

to “pull” it. By using steam at 50 psi, the 3165 pounds of

force calculated in the previous example of the Newcomen

engine would become 22,600 pounds in Watt’s engine. Also,

Watt’s engine used less fuel.

Following the lead of Newcomen and Watt, inventors such

as Richard Trevithick, William Hedley, George Stephenson,

Peter Cooper, Oliver Evans, John Fitch, Robert Stirling, and

others contributed greatly to engine technology during the

early- to mid-1800s. All of these men worked with external

combustion engines.

External combustion engines had a serious problem, however.

They all operated on high-pressure steam produced in

a boiler (except the Stirling engine, which operated on hot

air). These boilers were prone to catastrophic explosions. A

solution was to place the “explosion” inside the engine where

it could be better controlled. Samuel Morey, Nickolas Otto,

Gottlieb Daimler, Rudolf Diesel, and Karl Benz are some of

the more recognizable individuals involved with the development

of the internal combustion engine. Most of this

work was completed during the mid- to late-1800s.

In the 1900s, development of engines continued, with

extensive efforts to increase power and decrease weight.

The Wright Brothers designed and built their own engine

because a suitable engine simply was not available. The two

World Wars greatly motivated inventors to improve engine

designs. In the mid 1900s the jet engine was developed. This

engine design has many forms, including: the ram jet (no

moving parts), the pulse jet (used in Nazi buzz bombs), the

turbo jet (fighter jets and unlimited power boat racing), the

turbo fan (jet airliners), and the turbo-prop (propellerdriven

aircraft). By the late 1900s, fuel costs and environmental

concerns had prompted additional research and

development of engine technology.

Figure 2. Simple Hero engine using a soda can and candles.

The development of engine technology can serve as an

excellent context for addressing Standards for Technological

Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (ITEA,

2000/2002). The Characteristics and Scope of Technology

(STL 1) is clearly evident in the development of engine

technology. The Core Concepts of technology (STL 2) can

be addressed by an analysis of the engine and its many systems.

Engine development is also an excellent example of

the application of the design process as found in the standards

dealing with attributes of design, design engineering,

and troubleshooting (STL 8, 9, and 10).

Engines, in their many forms and functions, have had a tremendous

impact on society and the environment. It is hard

for the contemporary student to fathom a world without

trains, cars, trucks, powerboats, and airplanes. It must also

be noted that engines generate electricity and drive factories.

The industrial revolution would not have been possible

without engines. Educational standards addressing the

interface between technology, society, the environment, and

Photo by Alan Mills, Berea College.

6 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


history (STL 4, 5, 6, and 7) must be covered for the

student to have a full understanding of engines and

their importance.

With the many advantages of engine technology, however,

also come problems. Engines are loud, smelly, require

nonrenewable toxic fuel, and pollute the atmosphere with

hydrocarbons, nitrous oxide, and other harmful chemicals.

Recently, connections have been made between the extensive

use of fossil fuels powering engines and global climate

changes. It would be difficult to address these aspects of

engine use without discussing the effects of technology on

the environment (STL 5).

With the fascination, history, impacts, and importance of

engines to modern society, it is only natural that engine

technology should be included in technology education curriculum.

The traditional way to teach engines is to tear down

and rebuild a small gasoline engine. These engines are inexpensive,

readily available, and easy to work with. They contain

all of the major parts (crankshaft, piston, cam, valves,

etc), and the operations can be clearly seen.

Traditional lawnmower engine curriculum, however, has

a couple of weaknesses. One is that, in order to complete

the engine lab, little time is left for the history of engine

development or discussion of the impacts, both social and

environmental. The other weakness is that students see a

complex, precise, complicated engine. It works only if it is

reassembled exactly right. There is no room for experimentation

or imagination. This could inadvertently be teaching

the students that engine technology has been fully developed,

with no room for further advancement. Perhaps this

perception has contributed to the fact that the vast majority

of the engines used today were invented in the mid 1800s.

to the ball. A crankshaft can be formed from a paperclip,

and CDs make great flywheels. The engine operates by blowing

into the drinking straw inserted above the piston. This

engine is simple and inexpensive. Middle school students

can cut the pieces with scissors, and it can be assembled

quickly with hot glue and/or tape. It clearly demonstrates

the reciprocating action of the piston and the rotary movement

of the crankshaft and flywheels. It will probably

require some experimentation with stroke length to get it

to run properly. It will also require proper timing of power

(blowing into the straw) and exhaust (sucking) to run at high

speeds. Be mindful of hyperventilating!

Dimensions for the cardboard engine can be determined by

the students. If the students create precise drawings, they

will be able to determine stroke length and the distance

between the cylinder and the crankshaft. Students will discover

that, besides moving to the left and the right, the end

of the connecting rod must also be able to move up and

down with the throw of the crankshaft. The connecting rod

must be the proper length so that it does not strike the sides

of the cylinder.

The cardboard engine is similar in construction to some

of the earliest stationary power units. If students only suck

on the straw, they can demonstrate Newcomen’s engine

(although he did not convert the reciprocating motion to

rotary motion). If they only blow into it, they demonstrate

Watt’s early engine design. If they suck and blow, they get

some idea of a double-acting engine, although this is not

conceptually accurate. Students should be encouraged to

Technology education has always included student projects.

In most classes, objects are designed and built. In the

case of the engine, however, what has already been designed

and built by someone else is rebuilt. Building an engine

from scratch is too costly and requires too much equipment

and far too much specific training in metal casting and

machining to be viable in most classrooms. Because of these

requirements, are we teaching our students that they cannot

build and improve engines?

A possible means to introduce young students to engines is

through the construction of a cardboard engine (Figure 3).

A ping-pong ball fits perfectly inside most toilet-paper or

paper-towel tubes. Because the ball is round, no wrist pin is

necessary. A wooden connecting rod can be glued directly

Figure 3. Cardboard engine.

Photo by Alan Mills.

7 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


they can calculate theoretical horsepower. They can also rig

up a winch system to raise a known weight a certain distance.

This data will allow them to determine actual horsepower.

Armed with actual and theoretical horsepower, they

can determine efficiency.

Photo by Alan Mills.

Figure 4. PVC engine.

experiment and modify their engines. They may even design

automatic valves and engines with multiple cylinders.

Although this engine project is valuable, students may form

some misconceptions. This is not a model of a car engine.

The flywheels are not wheels, and pistons are round, not

spheres. Also keep in mind that the external combustion

engine has only two strokes: the power stroke where

high-pressure steam or air pushes the piston down, and the

exhaust stroke where the piston pushes the spent steam or

low-pressure air out. The internal combustion engine found

in the automobile precedes these two strokes with an intake

stroke and compression stroke.

Three-dimensional software presents another opportunity

to teach students about engine design. They can create the

various parts and assemble them into a virtual engine. Constraints

can be placed so that “collisions” between parts will

be identified. Most programs allow the animation of the

assembly so that the engine will “run.” One of the best things

about the virtual engine is that it can be instantly modified.

Multiple cylinders, for example, are literally “a click away.”

(Figure 5.)

A logical step beyond the virtual engine is the “printed”

engine. Three-dimensional printers are capable of fairly precise

work, and some use relatively durable materials. Care

should be taken to select a fairly large, simple design that

does not rely on precision. Printed engine parts may require

some sanding to achieve a better fit. With the proper design

and some experimentation, the parts may move smoothly

enough to run on compressed air. (Figure 6.)

Obviously, the best way to build an engine is to cast and

machine metal. There are a number of books and Internet

It won’t take long for students to realize the limitations of

using cardboard for engine construction. The next step is

the use of PVC and plywood (Figure 4). Because steam and

compressed air are basically the same thing (without the

heat), operating model steam engines do not have to be

made of metal. Once students understand the operation of

slide valves and double-acting cylinders, they can design

their own engine. Dimensions are not all that critical. The

timing of the valves, however, may cause them some trouble.

The PVC engine allows even more opportunity for experimentation

and modification. Cylinder arrangements, valve

mechanisms, cylinder head gaskets, piston rings, etc., can

all be tried. These engines also allow more calculations.

Students can now measure the diameter of the piston and

determine surface area. They already know the stroke length

and can set the air pressure. With this data, they can determine

the theoretical force on the piston and the torque on

the crankshaft. If they devise a method to measure rpm,

Figure 5. Screen capture of a virtual engine.

By Jayde Bohannon, drawn by Amy Fauber and Sedrick Young.

8 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


Photo by Alan Mills.

Photo by Alan Mills.

Figure 6. An engine generated by a three-dimensional

printer.

Figure 7: Parts for a cast aluminum steam engine built by

Gary Mahoney, Berea College.

sites that provide detailed plans for a variety of internal and

external combustion engines. External combustion engines

can be quite simple. Internal combustion engines can be

considerably more complex due to the fuel and ignition systems.

All of them, however, are fascinating. The drawings

from the three-dimensional software can be converted to

CNC code for machining. Also, the parts from the threedimensional

printer can be used as casting patterns.

(Figure 7.)

One more option for teaching engines is the use of kits. A

variety of kits are available. A familiar plastic kit that has

been available for decades contains all the parts of a V-8

engine in a clear plastic block. This is operated by an electric

motor so that the movement of the parts can be seen. Other

manufacturers offer various kits for compressed air or steam

engines. Some require very few tools; others require wellequipped

machine shops (Figure 8).

Assessment of student work with traditional engine curriculum

can be quite simple; does it run? (STL 10.) This evaluation

is also valid to some extent with engine design. With

design activities, however, several additional educational

standards can be assessed. Is the student using the proper

Figure 8: The V-8 engine kit by Revell model company.

design methodology? (STL 8 and 9.) Does the engine have

a chance of working, or is it unreasonable? (STL 2.) Is the

project constructed to the necessary precision? (STL 13 and

19.) Are the calculations correct? (STL 3.) Is the student

able to explain the development of engines? (STL 6 and 7.)

To what extent does the student understand the social and

environmental impacts of engines? (STL 4, 5 and 18.) Given

a fictional engine and application, can the student evaluate

the performance and likelihood of success? (STL 13 and 16.)

Engines have literally changed the world. They are also very

interesting and fun. Engines provide an excellent context for

lessons on the history of technology, including social and

environmental impacts. They also provide an application

for all sorts of data gathering and numerical manipulations.

Engine design is also a critical element in finding solutions

to current issues. And, with the proper designs and some

“out of the box” thinking, engine construction is a viable

activity in the technology education classroom.

Resource

ITEA. (2000/2002). Standards for technological literacy:

Content for the study of technology. Reston, VA: Author.

Brad Christensen is an associate professor

of technology education at Berea College,

Berea, KY. He taught middle and high

school technology courses in Nebraska and

Iowa for eleven years before pursuing his

doctorate at Illinois State University. Brad is

interested in exploring ways technology teachers can enhance

instruction through the application of mathematics, science,

and engineering concepts. Brad can be reached via email at

Brad_Christensen@berea.edu.

This is a refereed article.

9 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


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Resources in Technology

Exploring TeleRobotics:

A Radio-Controlled Robot

Walter F. Deal, III and Steve C. Hsiung

This article introduces the concept

of telerobotics—that is to control a

robotic system remotely using lowcost,

off-the-shelf radio transmitter

and receiver electronics.

Introduction

It has been about ten years since the launch of the NASA

Pathfinder Mission. The Pathfinder mission began

December 4, 1996 and took about seven months to travel

to Mars and place a “lander” on the Martian surface. The

landing took place on July 4, 1997. Pathfinder’s small rover,

Sojourner, transmitted data for seven weeks. Sojourner is

one of the most popular and well-known robot rovers that

have been developed through NASA’s Mars exploration

projects.

Pathfinder’s Sojourner missions demonstrated how low-cost

technologies could be used for space exploration. The mission

was directed toward technology, science, and mission

objectives. The technology focused on a small micro-rover

design, morphology and geological sampling, navigation,

imaging, sensors, spectrometry, UHF communication link,

and other experiments. A key part of the mission and technology

was the communication in collecting and transmitting

data back to the lander and subsequently back to earth

(NASA).

Figure 1. The Mars Exploration Rover, Sojourner, is one of the most

widely recognized remote-controlled robotic rovers. Sojourner

had its own solar-powered rechargeable power supply, microcontroller,

drive system (with a bogie suspension and drive system)

and special all-terrain wheels. Sojourner communicated with the

lander using a radio link to transmit data back to scientists on

earth (NASA).

In April of 2004, two mobile rovers named Spirit (Mars

Exploration Rover A) and Opportunity (Mars Exploration

Rover B) successfully completed their primary threemonth

missions on opposite sides of Mars. The primary

mission’s scientific goals were to search for and characterize

a wide range of rocks and soils that hold clues about past

water activity on Mars. Initially, the Mars Exploration Rover

11 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


mission was to last about 90 days and, as of this writing

three years later, Spirit and Opportunity are still collecting

data and transmitting it back to earth. Unlike the Sojourner

rover, Spirit and Opportunity have enhanced communications

systems that enable them to communicate with earth

stations directly and with spacecraft orbiting Mars. However,

Spirit and Opportunity communicated with the orbiter

Odyssey to transmit scientific and image data back to earth

stations as opposed to a relay link from the rovers to the

lander. (MER). As a result of the media coverage of the Mars

missions of the Sojourner, Spirit, and Opportunity rovers,

there has been a significant increase in interest in robotics

and control technology.

Today there are a number of entertaining, educational,

and consumer robotic products and devices available. For

example, there are robotic lawn mowers, such as the Lawnbot

Evolution that will cut up to three-fourths of an acre,

robotic vacuum cleaners (Roomba), action robots such as

Robosapien and Roboraptor (Figure 2), and the familiar

LEGO Mindstorms and LEGO NXT and VEX robot construction

sets. While these devices may serve some useful

purposes, offer learning experiences, or provide entertainment,

they all share some common elements with industry

and scientific robots.

Figure 2. The level of sophistication in entertainment robotic

devices is impressive. Here a team of students is identifying and

analyzing Roboraptor’s sensors, mechanical systems, and actions

as part of an introductory robot-technology activity. Roboraptor

incorporates tactile, sonic, and light sensors where given stimuli

will cause some programmed response. An infrared controller can

be used to control Roboraptor remotely.

Most robots used in industry and manufacturing, space

exploration and research, and entertainment share many

common elements. Robotic devices and systems typically

have a mechanical system that provides the form and structure,

a motion and drive system, electronics that include

sensors and output devices, and programmable control systems.

While robots will vary significantly in size, complexity,

and intelligence, they all share these common elements.

Some robotic devices have very complex instruction sets to

provide very precise repetitive control of a robot, and some

may even learn new processes and responses to external

stimuli using artificial intelligence techniques, while others

may be programmed to perform simple operations.

We generally think of robots as being autonomous and selfcontained,

where they have their own energy source, motion

or transport system, instructions, etc. However, we will find

that robots may be tethered to a control console via a multiwire

cable, like the deep Sea Explorer robots, where one or

more persons may operate and control the robot. We also

see wireless links that use infrared light energy as a communication

channel or radio frequency (RF) waves to control

robotic systems and transmit data from sensor devices.

Robotics is a rich and exciting multidisciplinary area to

study and learn about electronics and control technology.

The interest in robotic devices and systems provides the

technology teacher with an excellent opportunity to make

many concrete connections between electronics, control

technology, and computers and science, engineering, and

technology. This article introduces the concept of telerobotics—that

is to control a robotic system remotely using lowcost,

off-the-shelf radio transmitter and receiver electronics.

Telerobotics and teleoperation, two terms that we commonly

see regarding the operation of robotic systems, may

be defined as the control and operation of robots at a distance

(NASA). We see these kinds of control technologies

used in fast-action robot games on television (Battlebots),

surgical procedures (telemedicine) both local and remote,

and in space exploration. Additionally, there are many competitive

robotic contests and events, such as FIRST Robotics

Competitions (FRC), that combine problem solving, team

skills, and insights into engineering and technology at all

educational levels.

Our objective is to build a mobile robot platform that can be

teleoperated at a distance using radio waves (RF) to navigate

an obstacle course. The robot platform includes a motor

drive system and electronic motor controller, and incorporates

a miniature UHF transmitter and receiver pair to serve

12 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


as a communication link. The robot platform is designed

around two 8-1/2” diameter PVC disks that are cut from

1/8” PVC sheet, with appropriate spacers, and a dual DC

motor gear box (shown in Figure 3.) The PVC material is

easily shaped and fabricated into a design of the builder’s

choice.

Constructing the Teleoperated Robot

The robot chassis is constructed of 1/8” low-density sheet

PVC, which is available in small quantities from educational

and hobby suppliers or plastics suppliers in 4’ X 8’ sheets.

Since it is a low-density material, it is easily cut, drilled with

hand tools, or machined as necessary. A scroll saw may be

used to make all external and internal cuts on the base material.

Holes are easily drilled with a cordless drill. Be sure to

observe all appropriate safety precautions when performing

cutting and drilling operations. Layout lines should be used

for accurate placement of holes and cutouts. Pencil layout

lines are easily removed with a damp cloth. Rough edges left

from the cutting operations can be removed with abrasive

paper. Our telerobot uses a Tamiya dual motor drive gear

box and two-inch diameter “off-road” wheels that are easily

mounted to the platform base. However, if other types

of gear motors are used, then appropriate motor mounting

techniques must be addressed. The battery holders and

solderless breadboards are attached with double-sided tape.

Platform spacers may be made from PVC structural shapes

or just plain wood dowels. Small machine screws and selftapping

screws are used as fasteners.

Direct current (DC) motors can be controlled by several

different methods. They can be controlled with switches,

relays, transistors, and silicon-controlled rectifiers, and

special integrated circuits called H-Bridges. It is a common

practice to use a special circuit design called an H-bridge to

control a DC motor’s current in order to determine speed

and direction of rotation. The two Tamiya motors mounted

on a robot platform are controlled by an L293D integrated

circuit H-bridge. A 74HC04 hex inverter is added to manipulate

the motor’s start, stop, and direction remotely and

allow only two legs of the bridge to be used at any time.

A radio link is established by using a pair of low-cost transmitter

and receiver modules manufactured by Laipac Tech

Incorporated. The TLP434A transmitter and RLP434A

receiver communicate with each other on a 432.9 MHz

frequency. The modules are easy to use because they can

be used directly, with no software or microcontroller

required in applications such as described here. A pair of

Holtek encoder and decoder integrated circuits (HT12E

and HT12D are used to manage the address encoding and

Figure 3. This robot platform works well as an experimental design

because the electronics and control systems can be easily modified

by using a solderless breadboard. The receiver module can be seen

on the right side of the socket. Additionally, you can see the dual

H-Bridge driver that is used to control the operational status of the

motors. Logic states can be used to turn the motors ON or OFF as

well as change direction.

decoding and checking of the validity of the transmitted and

received data.

Figures 4 and 5 show the schematic of transmitter and

receiver used in this activity. The technical data sheets for

the transmitter and receiver are available at Laipak Tech’s

website (www.laipak.com) and provide sample circuit applications.

The HT12E encoder and the HT12D encoder (U1 &

U2) are used to encode and decode the recognized addresses

in the RF communications. The 8-Bit DIP switches on both

the transmitter and receiver are used to set the address of

the RF signals in order to set up proper recognition of the

controlled pair. All the address lines are pulled up high to

eliminate any possible noise signal using the “resistor packs.”

However, individual resistors can be used.

The control data is selectable through four push-button

switches (D0, D1, D2, and D3) to control the robot’s two

wheels: start, stop, forward, and reverse. Figure 6 (pg. 18)

shows the transmitter with the push-button switches. The

Transmission Trigger switch has to be pressed to start the

RF transmission. The operation procedure is to first select/

press the switch of D0, D1, D2, and/or D3 for the control

function you desire, then press the Transmission Trigger

switch to send the signal through the RF transmitter and

receiver. A “truth table” is shown in Table 1 that describes

the state and action of each of the drive motors. An “X”

means “does not care,” and the pressing of any of these

switches will send a high signal out.

13 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


Figure 4

Circuit Operation and Explanation

The encoder is used to send an address (set by user on an 8-

Bit DIP switch) along with 4-bits of data, which is done by

the user pressing the push buttons D0, D1, D2, and D3. The

TLP434A transmitter module transmits an RF signal continuously

as long as the transmission trigger push button is

pressed. The HT12D decoder will receive address bits and

data bits via the RLP434A receiver module. It will compare

its received address along with its own address setup three

times continuously and check for any error or unmatched

bit. If there is no discrepancy, then the 4 data bits received

will be transferred to its output pins that are connected to

the push buttons to control the motors’ functions. Using offthe-shelf

components, such as these encoder and decoder

integrated circuits and the Laipak Tech transmitter-receiver

pair, simplifies the design of the wireless communication

electronics, software, and integrity of the radio signal.

From an engineering and design point of view, there are a

number of advantages in using off-the-shelf modules like

the transmitter and receiver pair. Two major advantages

are the cost and the simplicity of prototyping and production

of a product design based on the transmitter and

receiver modules rather than in-house design and discrete

part construction. These kinds of component modules can

sat isfy a variety of basic needs in RF wireless communication

applications, such as garage-door openers and other

remote-control applications, and in recognizing that wireless

communication is an open-ended media signal that

anyone can gain access to. Additionally, such signals are

prone to noise interference. Where these issues are of a

concern, they must be addressed carefully. The addition of a

microcontroller with customized software and appropriate

communication protocols can reduce security and interference

concerns. Integrating a microcontroller to handle the

address recognition and validity of the data checking will

Table 1

Motor Control Functions

ENABLE_M1

D0

ENABLE_M2

D1

DIR_M1

D2

DIR_M2

D3

Motor Action

Lo Lo X X Motor 1 & 2 Stopped

Hi Lo Lo X Motor 1 Going Forward

Hi Lo Hi X Motor 1 Going Backward

Lo Hi X Lo Motor 2 Going Forward

Lo Hi X Hi Motor 2 Going Backward

Hi Hi Lo Lo Motor 1 & 2 Going Forward

Hi Hi Hi Hi Motor 1 & 2 Going Backward

14 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


Figure 5

make the RF communication more secure. A comprehensive

protocol design in the microcontroller software can make

the RF signal difficult to decode and less prone to noise

problems.

Making Classroom Connections

As we look at the goals of the Mars Exploration Rover missions,

we can see the emphasis on science and technology.

The challenges that the scientists, researchers, and engineers

faced required knowledge and skills from a variety of disciplines

and focused on critical thinking, problem solving, and

team skills. These same kinds of skills are an integral part of

our programs in classrooms and technology laboratories.

Interdisciplinary learning activities that make connections

between real-world jobs and careers in science, mathematics,

and technology can provide a meaningful context for

learning that can build interest and enthusiasm.

There are a number of mathematical skills that relate to the

theory and operation of the telerobot. As we look at the

motor-control system, we can see that a combination of buttons

must be pressed to enable the robot to travel forward,

backward, or make turns. The button sequence is based on

Boolean logic that can be expressed in a “truth table” such

as the one described earlier. Also included in the motorcontrol

circuit is a Hex Inverter. This logic circuit has its

own truth table where it basically inverts any signal input

on its output. What would an inverter truth table look like?

Understanding the purpose and value of truth tables reinforces

knowledge and skills gained in math classes and adds

to a greater understanding of why the sequence of buttons

pressed causes certain robot actions to occur. What determines

the speed or velocity of the robot? What factors

affect the robot speed? Here we can apply ratios, time, force,

Table 2

Basic Parts List

# Part Name Quantity

1 TLP434A 1

2 RLP434A 1

3 HT12E-18DIP 1

4 HT12D-18DIP 1

5 8 Bit DIP Switch 2

6 Push Button Switch 5

7 10K Resistor 23

8 1K Resistor 1

9 33K Resistor 1

10 730K Resistor 1

11 74HC04 Hex Inverter 1

12 L293DNE H-Bridge 1

13 Tamiya 70097 DC Dual Motor & Gear Box 1

14 Tamiya 70096 Wheel set 1

15 3-cell Battery Holder 1

16 Experimenter Socket 3.3” X 2.125” Jameco 1

17 Experimenter Socket 6.5” X 2.125” Jameco 1

18 9-Volt Battery Snap 1

15 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


Figure 6. A solderless breadboard is used to construct a prototype

of the transmitter unit. The address DIP switches and the push buttons

can be seen on the left side of the board. The Laipak transmitter

module can be seen on the right side of the board and is about

the size of a postage stamp.

weight, and distance calculations to apply and expand on

basic math skills.

The radio transmitter and receiver modules have range

limitations. How can the range limitations be determined?

What relationships can be developed in comparison to the

radio capabilities of Sojourner, Spirit, and Opportunity? The

transmitter and receiver modules have antennas to radiate

the radio signals. How long should these antennas be? How

long does it take for a radio signal to travel to Mars? Would

the time it took a radio signal command to travel from Earth

to Mars be a critical factor in controlling a rover? Why?

Team Challenge Activity

The team challenge is to construct a teleoperated robot,

such as the one described here, that can be controlled

using a radio communication system. The robot must be

capable of moving forward, backward, turning left or right,

and stopping on command. Individual teams will compete

against each other in navigating a predetermined course as

established by the teacher. It is recommended that a 4-foot

by 8-foot platform be constructed and include obstacles

and dead-end paths. Teams will control their telerobots via

a closed-circuit television link from a remote location. The

competition evaluation criteria should be based on navigating

a prescribed path with the fewest navigation errors in a

defined period of time, and the design and construction of

the team’s telerobot. Each team should maintain an engineer’s

log that reflects the planning, design, construction,

and testing of the team’s telerobot. The teams should

make a technical presentation to the class based on their

engineer’s log.

Similar to the Pathfinder mission with the Sojourner rover,

our telerobot uses some off-the-shelf components and

modules. The key modules are the receiver and transmitter

that can be purchased at very low cost, providing minimal

time constraints to build the control transmitter and robot

radio receiver. NASA engineers faced similar challenges in

planning and designing a communication system for the

Sojourner rover in 1993. The same decision options face our

technology team when the motor and gear box selection is

made. Should the telerobot team use a commercial dualmotor

gear box or build one using individual components?

Some of the highlights of the radio design and planning

issues that the (JPL-NASA) engineers faced were:

• Should NASA engineers design and make the communication

electronics and antenna at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory?

Alternatively should JPL purchase them from an

outside vendor according to their requirements?

• If off-the-shelf communication equipment is available,

should JPL purchase commercial- or military-grade

equipment? If we buy the commercial grade, can we reliably

fly them to Mars?

• If we buy a military grade, can we carry the heavier weight

and provide the larger power-supply needs?

• What kinds of modifications and tests do we need to perform

on the hardware to prove their reliability?

• If we make the communication equipment, will we have

enough time and enough money?

• What communication frequency should we choose?

As students plan and design their telerobots, they will

be faced with issues and concerns similar to the ones

that NASA engineers and technologists faced in designing

rovers for the Mars Explorations. Problem solving and

critical thinking are important dimensions in technological

literacy as well as careers as engineers, technologists, and

technicians.

Summary

It has been about ten years since the Sojourner rover and

Pathfinder lander landed on Mars. Since that time, additional

rovers and robot explorers (Spirit and Opportunity)

have been sent to Mars for scientific explorations. Increasingly

we are seeing many applications of robotic devices

used in industrial, consumer, entertainment, and research

applications. Today there are literally hundreds of robot-like

toys that have surprising capabilities, such as the Roboraptor

mentioned above.

The telerobotics rover described here incorporates many of

the basic systems that we would expect a robot to include.

Robots typically have mechanical systems, the chassis that

forms the structure, a motion-and-drive system, sensors

16 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


and output devices such as a manipulator

or arm, and a control system that may

be programmable or remotely operated. In

addition to these basic systems, telerobotic

devices have some means to enable remote

operation either by a tethered cable or

radio-frequency technologies.

The telerobot uses off-the-shelf components

as part of a radio-controlled robot

system. The radio transmitter and receiver

pair uses encoder and decoder integrated

circuits to manage an addressing-andcontrol

scheme that allows the user to

simply press control buttons to remotely

control driver motors that can be used to

navigate the robot.

There are opportunities for problem solving,

critical thinking, and the application of

logic and math in the design and construction

of the telerobot.

Resources

NASA Sojourner. Retrieved June 15, 2007.

http://mpfwww.jpl.nasa.gov/MPF/

mpf-pressrel.html.

Mars Exploration Rovers (MER). Retrieved

July 15, 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/

wiki/Mars_Exploration_Rover.

NASA Telerobotics. Retrieved July 10,

2007. http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/

teachers/liftoff/robotics.html.

JPL-NASA Sojourner Communication.

Retrieved July 10, 2007. http://mars.jpl.

nasa.gov/MPF/rovercom/radio.html.

Walter F. Deal, III, Ph.D.

is an associate professor

and Program Leader

of Technology Education

and Industrial Technology

Programs at Old Dominion

University in Norfolk,

VA. He can be reached via email at wdeal@

odu.edu.

Steve C. Hsiung, Ph.D.

is an associate professor

of Engineering Technology

at Old Dominion University,

Norfolk, VA. He can

be reached via email at

shsiung@odu.edu.

17 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


Exploring an Advanced Placement® (AP®)

Course of Study in Engineering

Interview with Leigh Abts

The objective of the threeyear

effort would be to develop

a framework for secondary

and higher education to

work together to improve the

preparation of students entering

undergraduate engineering

programs.

Leigh Abts is a research associate professor of the

College of Education and an affiliate research professor

of the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the

University of Maryland at College Park. Dr. Abts has

been the Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator

on several National Science Foundation (NSF) awards

that have provided funding to explore the feasibility and

the potential for an Advanced Placement® (AP®) course of

study in engineering. The research into the possibility of an

AP in engineering that involved individuals and institutions

(including ITEA) from across the United States began in

February of 2004. The team referred to by Dr. Abts in this

interview is the group that assembled at NAE under the

organizational name of Strategies for Engineering Education

K–16 (SEEK–16). Dr. Abts recently described and

summarized the motivations, results, and next steps from a

research Pre-AP® in engineering project.

Most educators are aware of AP® in such courses of study

as biology, physics, and mathematics. However yours

pertains to “Pre-AP®” engineering courses. How does this

differ from, say, the physics AP®; and what will it mean

for the “technology and engineering” strands in STEM

education?

More secondary schools and cocurricular programs should

encourage activities that engage students in the processes and

practices of engineering.

Ms. Jan Morrison, Mr. Buzz Bartlett, and I led a team that,

over an eighteen-month research cycle sponsored by NSF,

documented and recommended that an AP® in engineering

was not feasible or even desirable at this time, primarily

due to the lack of trained teachers and the lack of classroom

18 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


esources required to offer an engineering course of study

within most secondary schools. Additionally, most of the

higher education institutions involved in, or acting as respondents

to, the research surveys, cited that preparation,

and not placement, should become the highest priority for

the precollege education of incoming engineering undergraduates.

Based on a consensus of the team, the recommendation

was made to NSF and the College Board that the emphasis

be placed on the development of an accredited preparation

pathway for students to gain the knowledge and skills necessary

to succeed and remain in entry-level undergraduate engineering

courses. The response of the College Board was to

offer the team the use of their copyrighted Pre-AP® name for

a period of three years, during which time we would develop

a framework for engineering. The team is now developing an

arrangement with the College Board to do just that.

The objective of the three-year effort would be to develop

a framework for secondary and higher education to work

together to improve the preparation of students entering

undergraduate engineering programs. The intent

of the framework would be to encourage programs like

ITEA’s Center to Advance the Teaching of Technology and

Science’s Engineering byDesign Program, Project Lead

the Way®, and the Infinity Project® to align aspects of their

programs to a College Board-authorized Pre-AP® course of

study. We feel that such an authorization would facilitate

more secondary schools and cocurricular (after-school)

programs to encourage activities that engage students in the

processes and practices of engineering—e.g., design and the

application of technology.

So is the nature of the project and the expected outcome

to produce more engineers—to make every student an

engineer?

While the intent sounds like we will track all students into

engineering, in my opinion that is a secondary outcome.

My interpretation of the team’s goal is to encourage all

students to become engaged in activities that allow them

to apply their math and science knowledge through such

engineering practices as design. The design process is essential

to not only engineering, but also to our everyday life

experiences and to making informed decisions. If we can get

students at the middle to high school level to learn to “play

and tinker” with science and mathematics concepts using

engineering concepts and technology, we might grab their

attention to continue to take that “one more” mathematics

or science course.

One goal of the Pre-AP® pathway would be to

include those currently underrepresented in

engineering.

Therefore, the Pre-AP® Engineering pathway, if properly

aligned to local, state, and national standards, might offer

an opportunity to engage and retain students in more advanced

STEM studies. We hope that the students electing to

pursue the Pre-AP® Engineering and advanced studies might

include those underrepresented, not only in engineering,

but also the other STEM disciplines—e.g. women, African

Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans. If we are

successful in increasing these numbers, more than likely a

higher number of women and minorities will enter engineering

as a profession.

It seems there are a number of significant barriers to

accomplishing these goals and objectives. Could you

elaborate?

As with any early-stage launch of a pilot program, a number

of barriers exist, or at least should be anticipated, that will

need to be addressed or overcome. In my opinion, these

barriers could include: (1) the reluctance of institutions to

accept an untested new course of study; (2) the alignment of

the new course of study to existing standards, such as ITEA’s

Standards for Technological Literacy; (3) the inclusion of

under-resourced schools; (4) the involvement and utilization

of tested materials from programs such as Engineering

byDesign, Project Lead the Way®, and the Infinity Project ®;

and last, but certainly not the least, (5) the engagement and

authorization of the College Board to continue the efforts.

19 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


In addition, a pilot program was run to test the concept

of an AP® Engineering course based on the Johns Hopkins

Whiting School of Engineering’s “What is Engineering?”

course. This pilot involved nine sites and approximately 155

students. Demographically, a majority of the students were

women, and a majority were from under-resourced high

schools in Baltimore, Washington, DC, and California. An

independent evaluator, Dr. Denise Bell from the Educational

Alliance at Brown University, summarized the findings at

Carnegie Mellon.

The design process is essential to not only engineering,

but also to our everyday life.

I hope to continue to build a broad-based consensus for

an “action plan” that will address these challenges as an

opportunity to create an adaptive framework that includes

existing programs, under-resourced schools, secondary and

higher education, and the greater research community. An

evidence-based research approach will be used to direct

the development of the framework and as a mechanism

to establish evaluation baselines and protocols for the

framework.

We expect that new approaches to evaluation will need to be

developed and tested for the Pre-AP® Engineering course of

study, since many of the activities will require constructive

assessments of a student’s performance. We’re considering

using an “Electronic Portfolio” that will progressively “travel”

with the Grade 6-16 student.

What groundwork has been established, and what is the

current status of the project?

Initial focus groups were conducted during December of

2005 at California State University at Los Angeles and also

at the ITEA Annual Conference in Baltimore in March of

2006. A total of eight focus groups were conducted across

the United States involving nearly 104 participants. Questions

were formulated for the focus groups through interviews

conducted with over 30 educational and engineering

experts. An independent evaluator, Dr. Karen Falkenberg

from Emory University, summarized the taped or handwritten

transcripts from the focus groups at the retreat held at

Carnegie Mellon University in November of 2006 that was

hosted by Dr. Indira Nair and Ms. Judith Hallinen.

Based on the summary findings and the discussions held

at the retreat, the recommendation was made to NSF and

the College Board that a “preparation versus placement”

framework first be established for engineering education at

the precollege level before consideration be made for an AP®

in engineering. It was also recommended that the framework

consider academic year, summer, and cocurricular

programs.

At the request of the College Board, two additional workshops

were held, one at the National Academy of Engineering,

the other at the University of Maryland at College

Park. These workshops considered the reasons, needs, and

possible plans for a Pre-AP® in engineering. Based on these

workshops and the previous focus groups, expert interviews,

and the Carnegie Mellon retreat, a report was issued to NSF

and the College Board in late April of this year.

These prior recommendations and Pre-AP® report were

considered by the College Board staff and trustees. The

final result was that the research effort be continued under

a license agreement that would formally allow us to use the

Pre-AP® trademark.

Will you create new standards through the process?

Over a decade ago, the American Association for the

Advancement of Science developed a roadmap currently

known as Project 2061. Teachers, educators, and curriculum

developers have used the Project 2061 Atlas and roadmaps

to reform science education in the United States. Currently

there exists no equivalent roadmap that can be used by

existing, planned, or for future precollege engineering programs.

However, there do exist many outstanding programs,

such as those mentioned above, that provide students and

teachers the opportunity to learn and practice engineering

and technological concepts.

20 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


The intent of the continued research into a Pre-AP® Engineering

framework is not to reform precollege engineering

and/or technology education or even to recreate

accepted standards. It is to organize and test a framework

of commonly accepted benchmarks that would provide

precollege engineering programs a series of roadmaps,

similar to Project 2061. Such a framework has the potential

to provide a precollege engineering activity or program the

opportunity to be aligned to a pathway authorized to use the

Pre-AP® trademark.

How have you and how will you organize the effort to

develop and test the Pre-AP® Engineering project?

Once we obtain the license to use the Pre-AP® trademark,

we will reconvene the team. We will most likely host a

meeting in the fall of 2007 at the University of Maryland

at College Park. We would bring together the organizers

of the NSF-sponsored AP® research project and other

key individuals representing ongoing programs impacted

by a precollege engineering framework. This initial meeting

would begin the three-year process to develop and vet

possible benchmarks and learning strands to construct a

practical framework that can cover academic, summer, and

cocurricular programs.

I anticipate that the team will work closely with ITEA, as we

have done to this point in time, to not only develop but also

test the framework in ITEA members’ classrooms, summer

programs, and cocurricular activities. I would be remiss if I

did not stress at the end of this interview, the important role

ITEA has played and will continue to play in the development

of the Pre-AP® Engineering framework. Thank you!

Resources

International Technology Education Association. (ITEA)

(2000/2002). Standards for technological literacy: Content

for the study of technology. Reston, VA: Author.

International Technology Education Association. (ITEA)

(2006). Technological literacy for all: A rational and structure

for the study of technology. Reston, VA: Author.

Leigh Abts, Ph.D., is a research associate

professor of the College of Education and an

affiliate research professor of the A. James

Clark School of Engineering at the University

of Maryland at College Park. He can be

reached via email at LeighAbts@aol.com.

Are you at a stage of development where you have an example

of the framework that might be used for these Pre-

AP® courses? What are they and what is the importance

of breaking down those barriers? Are courses already in

existence? What directions have been established?

We are not at the stage where we can actually suggest a

framework. The goal of the post-license agreement meeting

would be to start the process. I do think, however, that some

of the groundwork has been laid by ITEA’s Technological

Literacy for All. In fact, I firmly believe that we would not

be at this point if not for the foresight of ITEA in creating

Standards for Technological Literacy.

What does this mean for current technology and engineering

teachers as we look to the near future of the

Pre-AP® courses?

ITEA’s membership of technology and engineering teachers

will continue to play an active role in the development

of the Pre-AP® framework. The success of the team’s efforts

will depend, in no short measure, on the teachers that adapt

and utilize the programs that align with a formalized and

authorized Pre-AP® framework.

21 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


Classroom Challenge

Classroom Challenge:

Designing a Firefighting Robot

By Harry T. Roman

Students will learn about mobile

robots and attempt to design a

firefighting robot.

Introduction

In this challenge, students will learn about mobile robots

and attempt to design a firefighting robot. This activity

should demonstrate the complexity and interdisciplinary

nature of this technology.

Background

First, the students will need to understand how mobile robots

differ from traditional industrial robots that are used in

factories and assembly lines, so a little research is in order as

the students discover:

• The basic subsystems of a mobile robot:

n Propulsion system

n Communications interface (radio control or tether)

n Sensors on board

n Manipulators and end-effectors

• How mobile robots developed, and their lineage.

• The difference between mobile robots and industrial

robots.

• The design concerns with mobile robots.

• How mobile robots are communicated with.

• What industries currently use mobile robots and in what

applications.

• How mobile robots might be used in the future.

Students should think about how their firefighting robot will be

deployed.

Have the students take a look at the impacts that robots

could have on human work forces that might be displaced.

In places where mobile robots have been used, have there

been problems with human workers being displaced? What

kinds of training did those workers receive in how to use the

robots? Also evaluate the types of skills necessary to design

mobile robots, and the different disciplines that must be

integrated.

Armed with this basic knowledge about the mobile robot

world, your students are now ready to begin thinking about

how their firefighting robot will be designed and deployed.

22 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


The Challenge

The most important aspect of this challenge is to understand

the problem and what conditions the mobile robot

must face and withstand; and that means we must start by

listing the key aspects of this design. First we will start with

rather obvious concerns:

• What kinds of fires will be fought?

• How far into the fire will the robot go?

n Must it be totally fireproof?

n Will it stay around the perimeter of the fire?

• Must it be waterproof?

• Its delicate electronics should be able to withstand high

temperatures.

• Key circuitry onboard the robot should be redundant.

• The robot must be able to withstand the discharge of its

fire hose without losing its balance.

• How much hose will it be necessary to drag behind it?

• If the robot becomes disabled, it must be easily retrieved.

Students are free to determine what they want their robot to

be able to do, but must understand that those choices drive

the design. Are there firefighting robots now in service that

might provide some design clues and insights?

fire site? As probable future users of a mobile firefighting

robot, might they have some important concerns that

should be taken into account? Why not invite some local

firemen to discuss how they fight fires, and how a mobile

robot might be useful to them. Their experience would be

most valuable in helping students understand how to deploy

the robot. They could also provide information about the

type of training firefighters would need to become proficient

with maintaining, deploying, and using the robot.

Are there other firefighting situations where mobile robots

could be used, outside of traditional structure fires? Could

these robots find application in refineries, the military,

aboard aircraft carriers and other vessels, in coal mines, oil

storage depots, oil rigs, or other places? Have there been

previous attempts or past applications?

Now the students should make an attempt to design their

robots. This kind of challenge lends itself well to team efforts

where, once the central design parameters are decided upon,

students may take different aspects of the project and design

their portion—all of which will be integrated together later

by the team.

Expand the question-asking to prompt even more creativity

and speculation about how the

robot might be used:

• How would the robot be

brought to the fire site?

• How would it be cleaned

after a fire?

• What temperatures is the

robot likely to experience?

• What materials would it be

made of?

• How would the operator

communicate with the

robot?

• How would the robot see

through the fire?

• Are there special concerns if

robots have to deal with:

n Hazardous substance fires

n Corrosive spills and

ensuing fires

n Handling explosive

materials

What do you think firemen

would think of a mobile robot

they could deploy at a serious

Use of computer graphics design software is encouraged in designing a robot.

23 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


Encourage lots of pictures and diagrams explaining how

the robot will be designed and operated. Cut-away pictures

of the robot in action and its various anatomical structures

should be prominently displayed. The use of computer

graphics design software is certainly encouraged. A formal

design report should be compiled by each team.

Students should attempt to develop cost information about

building the robots. And certainly, the design teams can

develop marketing information about their new products. In

fact, the robot design teams each should give oral presentations

about each robot, its special features, and selling

points.

This challenge should be loads of fun. Robots are a wonderful

venue in which to team interdisciplinary and multidimensional

thinking and critical analysis. Let the creativity

and futuristic thinking soar.

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 htroman@aol.com.

Could these robots find applications in other places?

Invite a Colleague to Experience

ITEA Membership!

Through Colleague Connection, current members may

invite their colleagues to experience the benefits of ITEA

membership for a limited time at no charge.

Colleague

Connection

free resources for technology teachers

Ad Index

Autodesk.........................................................C-4

CarveWright Woodworking System..............4

CNC Mastercam...........................................C-3

Goodheart-Willcox Publisher...................... 21

Kelvin Electronics........................................... 17

Toshiba............................................................C-2

www.iteaconnect.org/cc.htm

24 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


STS-118 Engineering Design Challenges

NOW AVAILABLE!

ITEA and NASA Partner Again to Promote STEM

In conjunction with the August 8, 2007 launch of STS-118, ITEA and NASA recently debuted

STS-118 Design Challenges. Available on a single CD that combines elementary, middle, and high

school, these challenges revolve around a lunar plant growth chamber to help supplement the diet

of astronauts while living and working on the moon, as well as provide as sense of “home.”

These interactive, electronic Design Challenges are now available on CD from ITEA for an introductory

cost of $9.50. The Design Challenges include lessons, student and teacher resources,

assessments, and materials lists. Moreover, the units integrate with the ITEA model program for

­technological literacy known as Engineering byDesign. These units are the first of the Human

Exploration Project curricula for space exploration to be introduced – coming Soon: Units on Space

and Transportation and Space and Energy and Power!

To order CDs, contact ITEA at 703-860-2100. Shipping charges of $2 per CD apply.


Model Program:

The British Schools of America

Submitted by Gareth Hall

In helping pupils/students to

become more autonomous

learners, we have moved away

from mere knowledge acquisition

to knowledge application, where

pupils/students are encouraged

to be flexible and seek their own

solutions to a range of problems

using a variety of activities,

techniques, and appropriate

resource materials.

The British Schools of America were founded in 1998

when the first school opened in Washington, DC. The

British Schools of Boston and Houston both opened

in September 2000, the British School of Chicago

opened in September 2001 and the British American School

of Charlotte, our most recent school, opened in September

2004. The British Schools of America are a division of World

Class Learning Schools and Systems (WCLS), based in

London.

The British School of Washington provides British primary

and secondary school education for children of all nationalities.

The school’s enrollment comprises approximately

300 pupils of whom the majority are British and American.

Some twenty further nationalities are, however, represented

amongst the pupil body.

A BSA workshop.

The British Schools of America offer a broad curriculum

based on the International Primary Curriculum, the

National Curriculum (England) and the International

Baccalaureate, and focus on the whole development of the

child, aiming to equip every pupil and student with the

essential skills for lifelong learning.

26 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


Technology Programme

Design and Technology, or D&T as it is called in the UK,

is taught from the age of five through fourteen (Key Stages

1–3) as a compulsory core subject, after which it becomes

optional and an elective (Key Stages 4 and 5). As an elective,

a variety of D&T courses can be offered: product

design (including textiles technology, resistant materials,

and graphic products) or manufacturing, food technology,

systems and control, electronic products, electronics, and

communication technology, and industrial technology or

engineering.

To gain the “big picture” overview of where D&T sits in the

National Curriculum, you need look no further than the

subject’s statement of importance, which defines its unique

contribution within the national curriculum and describes a

vision for it:

“In design and technology, pupils combine practical

and technological skills with creative thinking to design

and make products and systems to meet human needs.

They learn to use current technologies and consider the

impact of future technological development. They learn

to think creatively and intervene to improve quality of

life, solving problems as individuals and members of

a team.

Working in stimulating contexts that provide a range of

opportunities and draw on the local ethos, community

and wider world, pupils identify needs and opportunities.

They respond with ideas,

products and systems, challenging

expectations where

appropriate. They combine

practical and intellectual

skills with an understanding

of aesthetic, technical,

cultural, health, social, emotional,

economic, industrial

and environmental issues.

As they do so, they evaluate

present and past design and

technology, and its uses and

effects. Through design and

technology, pupils develop

confidence in using practical

skills and become discriminating

users of products. They

Project prototyping.

A student presents ideas to the team.

apply their creative thinking and learn to innovate.”

QCA Feb/05/2007

The national curriculum (England) is currently undergoing

revision; the new statement of importance above is part

of that process and ensures that the curriculum remains

relevant to our pupils/students. The curriculum highlights

key concepts that underpin the study of design and technology.

Pupils need to understand these concepts in order

to deepen and broaden their knowledge, skills, and understanding.

These concepts include: designing and making,

cultural understanding, creativity, and critical evaluation.

The curriculum also highlights those essential skills and

key processes in design and technology that pupils need to

learn in order to make progress as well as a range of curriculum

opportunities that outline the breadth of the subject on

which teachers should draw when teaching the key concepts

and key processes. Fifteen year ago England and Wales

were the first countries in the world to introduce Design and

Technology as a compulsory subject for all pupils from 5-16.

Each key stage builds upon the previous, adding a greater

level of sophistication in knowledge skills and understanding.

The current curriculum programme of study states that:

“…teaching should ensure that knowledge and understanding

are applied when developing ideas, planning, making

products and evaluating them.” Each key stage programme

of study sets out what pupils should be taught when: developing,

planning, and communicating ideas; working with

tools equipment, materials, and components to make quality

products; evaluating products and processes; knowledge

and understanding of materials and components, knowledge

and understanding of systems and control (from Key Stage

3); knowledge and understanding of structures (from Key

Stage 3). Breadth is provided through D&T being taught via

three main types of activity that provide opportunities to

develop a pupil’s/student’s design/make and technological

capability. These are:

27 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


• Product analysis (investigate, disassembly, and evaluation

activities related to familiar products and

applications).

• Focused practical tasks that develop a range of techniques,

skills, processes, and knowledge.

• Design and make assignments in different contexts. The

assignments can include control systems, and work using

a range of contrasting materials, including resistant materials,

compliant materials, and/or food.

At BSW the secondary department covers three key stages:

11-14 Key Stage 3, 14-16 Key Stage 4 (a two year programme

in which, if completed successfully, students receive

the General Certificate of Secondary Education), 16-18 Key

Stage 5 (IB diploma program). Due to the nature of my own

specialism, the main focus of the design and technology

program followed is product design, which includes, at Key

Stage 3, resistant materials (wood, metal, plastic), structures,

packaging, graphic design, simple electrical products, and

mechanical systems. Key Stage 4 students follow the AQA

Resistant Materials syllabus, and Key Stage 5 pupils undertake

the IB’s standard level Design Technology program. A

“design”-led philosophy drives the subject; no matter what

medium you may be working in, it is the design thinking

that is of most importance to a successful outcome. In helping

pupils/students to become more autonomous learners,

we have moved away from mere knowledge acquisition to

knowledge application, where pupils/students are encouraged

to be flexible and seek their own solutions to a range

of problems using a variety of activities, techniques, and

appropriate resource materials.

Course Descriptions

At Key Stage 4 (freshman and sophomore years) students

undertake a two-year GCSE course in Resistant Materials

Technology, with a product design emphasis. The course

challenges students to: demonstrate their design and technology

capability, requiring them to combine skills with

knowledge and understanding in order to design and make

quality products in quantity; acquire and apply knowledge,

skills, and understanding through analysing and evaluating

products and processes; engage in strategies for developing

ideas, plan and produce products, and undertake focused

tasks to develop and demonstrate techniques; consider how

past and present design and technology affects society; and

recognise the moral, cultural, and environmental issues

inherent in design and technology.

During the first year of the course, students undertake a

range of minor projects, using product themes of seating,

lighting, and storage. These product themes demand active

During the first year

of Resistant Materials

Technology, students

undertake a range of

minor projects, using

product themes of

seating, lighting, and

storage.

28 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


and experimental learning through the use and application

of knowledge and skills in using resistant materials.

Dependant upon the desired learning focus and the students

involved, these projects may last anywhere from half a term/

semester to an entire term. Projects such as these provide a

context within which to focus on the teaching of a range of

key design strategies, practical skills (such as modeling—see

samples on previous page), and knowledge that are appropriate

and applicable to the specific task/project at hand.

This also provides the flexibility to deliver instruction at

appropriate teachable moments and contextualise the learning

for students, making the realistic application of theory

more apparent. This is not students learning by rote, but the

introduction of knowledge and skills when they are needed

by the student, and places the teacher in the role of being a

manager of the educational process.

This minor project work allows students to begin to explore

the set of Designing Skills, (research, analysis of problem/

task and research, specification, generation of ideas, development

of solution, planning of making, evaluation, testing

and modification, use of communication, graphical and use

of ICT skills, social issues, industrial practices and systems

and control, including the use of CAD) and Making Skills,

(correction of working errors including modifications; use

of appropriate equipment and processes, including the use

of CAM; production and effectiveness of outcome; level of

accuracy and finish; use of quality assurance (QA) and quality

control (QC)) that they are to be assessed in. Their competency

in these areas is assessed through the production

of a final project portfolio, including a high-quality practical

outcome (60% of their final mark) and a terminal two-hour

exam (40% of their final mark). The assessment scheme is

also iterative, allowing students to reflect and revise their

work as it is undertaken.

A student’s journey through a design and technology task,

whether it is a focused practical/theory task that imparts

specific knowledge or skills or a holistic design-and-make

project, is as individual as the pupil. Each situation is driven

by different needs and has different demands, but the one

constant that provides the compass for that journey is the

design process. Throughout the two-year course, students

learn to use, and modify when required, a stylised product

design process. This process idealistically mirrors those used

by industry in defining, designing, and developing products

and systems and helps students to organise, clarify, and

direct tasks and projects, though it is clearly understood

that this process is there for guidance and is not intended to

be a straightjacket.

BSW Resistant Material Product

Design Process

(DATA stylised process showing its

iterative nature)

• Situation/problem/design

brief/analysis

• Project time plan/schedule

• Initial research (user questionnaire,

product analysis, user trip,

image board)

• Design specification

• Initial ideas, chosen idea

• Development of ideas, secondary

research

• Manufacturing specification,

working drawings, plan of

manufacture

• Realisation

• Testing and evaluation

The assessment scheme is structured to allow each student

to work at his or her own ability level and provides a basis to

explore strengths and weaknesses as the course progresses

and set individualised targets for improvement. Students

need to be very clear on what is being assessed and how it

is being assessed. The physical evidence that is required for

assessment, produced through the application of the design

process, is often represented as a design folder or sketchbook.

Though each section of evidence is important, they

are not graded as individual pieces of work; each part relies

on what has gone before. For example, poor initial research

can lead to a poorly defined specification.

Simplistically, the design process

can be described as a linear

progression from identifying a

need and design brief through

to the evaluation of the product,

as you can see in the diagram

above (from www.DATA.org.

uk); although it is displayed as

linear stages, each step is iterative.

Students may find it necessary

to repeat several steps as

they analyse and evaluate the

material they generate, coming

to conclusions and making

decisions that help them to justify

their design decisions and

direct and clarify the task ahead

of them.

Marking out.

29 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


Wine storage and display.

Artist’s paintbrush holder.

In the second year, students are encouraged to relate their

work to their personal interests and abilities. Personalising

work in this way builds a sense of ownership and allows

them to clearly direct their own learning. The exciting thing

about this is that work is not limited to what the teacher

knows. Students do not get free rein; they have to take into

account the level of facilities and materials available to them.

This often leads to considerable modification and compromises

throughout their project, not unlike the real world.

Having defined a situation, design students write a design

brief and undertake initial research aimed at understanding

the needs of the stakeholders. These include the client, the

designer, the manufacturer/maker, the retailer, and last but

by no means least, the user/consumer. The initial research

that follows leads to the creation of a detailed design specification,

and students can begin to generate initial ideas.

These ideas are then assessed and evaluated against their

specification, often by presenting to their peers. They then

take their best idea/solution and develop their two-dimensional

ideas into a three-dimensional product. A more indepth

stage of practical research through modeling and

testing begins and is crucial as students test out a variety

of possible solutions to answer questions of: function, size,

ergonomics, aesthetics, environment, material properties,

industrial processes, structure, construction, and finish.

Once these questions have been answered, a final manufacturing

specification using CAD can be produced, with

detailed working drawings and a plan of manufacture that

describes each task in building the product, tools needed,

health and safety requirements, quality control checks, and

time needed for the task. They can then go forward with

actual production, at the end of which they test and evaluate

their final product.

Final Thoughts

Why do I feel that D&T should be at the centre of school

curricula today? The subject insists on being neither a specialist

art discipline nor a specialist science discipline precisely

because it is inspired to harmonise both positions.

Design is also restless—it constantly challenges and reworks

established ideas and models. It is innovative, anticipating

the need for an application as well as refining and adapting

emerging technologies to develop sustainable solutions. Yet

it aims to achieve these diverse and essentially creative ends

through rigorous and rational processes. In the context of

our modern and complex society, young people are confronted

by an employment market that demands flexibility,

adaptability, and breadth of discipline and rewards teamwork,

communication, and problem-solving skills. These are

the foundation stones of design competence.

“Science, engineering, and technology are vitally important

to the future of the country and the world. Look

at the things that are changing the world today and

you will see manufactured products with new technology,

engineering and design. We need to challenge the

assumption that careers in industry and manufacturing

are dull. D&T in schools and universities goes

a long way to doing this. Our young people use their

hands and brains to solve problems: an enormous creative

challenge.” James Dyson

Gareth Hall received a degree in Product

(industrial) Design from Manchester

Polytechnic, Manchester, England in 1992.

He followed this with a Post-Graduate

Certificate in Education from De Montfort

University, Leicester, where he specialised

in design & technology. He taught for seven

years in three different institutions covering the eleven to

eighteen age ranges and was Head of Design and Technology

in his last school prior to joining the British Schools of

America in 2002, as Subject Leader at their Washington DC

location.

30 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


Barbara Morgan Takes Teaching

Into Space

NASA will send educators to space

so that they can use their skills and

experiences as classroom teachers

to connect space exploration to the

classroom.

The space shuttle Endeavour launched August 8,

carrying seven astronauts to orbit on a complex flight

to continue the assembly of the International Space

Station and fulfill a long-standing human spaceflight

legacy. The 119th flight in space shuttle history and the 22nd

to the station is unique to ITEA, because one of its crew is

one of our own, ITEA member Barbara R. Morgan.

Morgan is the first educator mission specialist in NASA’s

Educator Astronaut Program, having served as the backup

to payload specialist Christa McAuliffe in the Teacher in

Space Project. McAuliffe and six fellow astronauts lost

their lives in the Challenger accident on January 28, 1986.

Morgan, who was an elementary school teacher in McCall,

Idaho, before being selected as McAuliffe’s backup, returned

to teaching after the accident. She was selected to train as

a mission specialist in 1998 and was named to the STS-118

crew in 2002.

ITEA member Barbara R. Morgan

This was Barbara Morgan’s first spaceflight. She rode middeck

for the launch of Endeavour and was seated in the

flight deck for entry and landing. As the “loadmaster,” Morgan

was the crew member responsible for the 5,000 pounds

of supplies and equipment transferred between the shuttle

and the space station. She also operated the shuttle and station

robotic arms during the delicate spacewalk and installation

tasks. Additionally, as an Educator Astronaut, Morgan

31 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


was involved in three live, interactive educational in-flight

events with students gathered in Boise, Idaho, Alexandria,

Virginia, and Lynn, Massachusetts to discuss her mission

and the educational aspects of human spaceflight.

The prime objective of the mission was to install the Starboard

5 (S5) truss on the right side of the station’s expanding

truss structure. The two-ton S5 was robotically attached

and bolted to the S4 truss, which was delivered to the station

on the STS-117 mission in June. The S5 truss is 11 feet

long, and serves as a “spacer” to provide structural support

for the outboard solar arrays that will be installed on the S6

truss next year and to provide sufficient space for clearance

between those arrays and the S4 truss solar blankets.

Another high priority task for Endeavour’s astronauts was

the replacement of the failed Control Moment Gyroscope-3

(CMG-3), which experienced high electrical currents and

erratic spin rates in October 2006 and was taken off line.

After arriving on orbit, crewmembers Caldwell and

Williams captured video and digital stills of Endeavour’s

jettisoned external fuel tank for imagery analysis on

the ground, the first in a series of iterative steps to clear

Endeavour’s heat shield for a safe landing. Endeavour’s

astronauts then set up their tools and computers and

opened the ship’s cargo bay doors. Later in the flight,

Morgan and Caldwell were at the controls of the shuttle’s

robotic arm as they lifted the third External Stowage

Platform out of Endeavour’s cargo bay and handed it over

to crewmembers Hobaugh and Anderson, who operated

the station’s Canadarm2. Hobaugh and Anderson installed

the ESP-3 onto a cargo attachment device on the P3 truss,

where capture bolts locked it down.

Later in the day, Morgan conducted the first in-flight

educational event with students gathered at the Discovery

Center of Idaho in Boise, a 20-minute interactive event to

discuss the progress of the flight. Several days later, Morgan

conducted educational in-flight events with students at the

Challenger Center for Space Science Education in Alexandria,

Virginia and the Robert L. Ford NASA Explorer School

in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Educator Astronaut Program

NASA’s Office of Education aims to strengthen NASA and

the nation’s future workforce by attracting and retaining

students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,

or STEM, disciplines. The Educator Astronaut

Program (EAP) is part of NASA’s Elementary and Secondary

Official patch of NASA’s STS-118 mission

Education Program. NASA believes that, by increasing the

number of students involved in NASA-related activities

at the elementary and secondary education levels, more

students will be inspired and motivated to pursue higher

levels of STEM courses—NASA has selected educators with

expertise in kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms to

train to become fully qualified astronauts. NASA will send

educators to space so that they can use their skills and experiences

as classroom teachers to connect space exploration

to the classroom. By utilizing their talents as educators and

the unique platform of spaceflight, these astronauts can offer

a new avenue for imagination and ingenuity for teachers

and their classrooms. In addition to Barbara Morgan, there

are three other educators in the astronaut corps. Another

of the educator astronauts, Joe Acaba, was a memorable

keynote speaker at the 2007 ITEA Conference in San

Antonio. Barbara Morgan will be a keynote speaker at the

February 2008 ITEA Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The assignments of educator astronauts are no different

than those given other astronauts. The EAP collaborates

with its Network of Educator Astronaut Teachers (NEAT) to

develop additional ways to provide teachers unique professional

development opportunities, which will strengthen

the overall teaching of STEM disciplines. NEAT is currently

comprised of approximately 190 teachers from around

the country, excellent educators who applied in 2003 but

were not selected for educator astronaut positions. NASA

provides NEAT with professional development through

32 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


national conferences and workshops at NASA’s field centers.

They receive NASA education resources and special training,

and are offered unique NASA experiences. NASA Education

and the EAP planned a variety of education activities

to give students, educators, and families the opportunity to

engage in the STS-118 mission, before, during, and after the

flight. Educator resources are available online.

Education Payload Operations (EPO)

Education Payload Operations (EPO) are education payloads

or activities designed to support NASA’s mission to inspire

the next generation of explorers. Generally, these payloads

and activities focus on demonstrating science, mathematics,

technology, engineering, or geography principles on orbit.

The overall goal for every mission is to facilitate education

opportunities that use the unique environment of spaceflight.

In support of STS-118, NASA Education put together

a comprehensive education plan designed to engage students

in the mission. The gemstones of this plan are the

engineering design challenges in which students will design,

build, and evaluate their own lunar plant growth chambers.

The challenges tie directly to the two education payloads

used on STS-118.

EPO-Kit C was an education payload consisting of two

small collapsible plant growth chambers and the associated

Pictured from left are astronauts Rick Mastracchio, mission specialist; Barbara R. Morgan, mission specialist; Charlie Hobaugh, pilot;

Scott Kelly, commander; and Tracy Caldwell, Canadian Space Agency’s Dave Williams, and Alvin Drew, all mission specialists.

33 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


hardware to conduct a 20-day plant germination investigation

(figures below). During the investigation, crew members

maintained the plants and captured still images of plant

growth. Meanwhile, EPO-Educator was an education payload

consisting of approximately 10 million basil seeds. The

seeds launched and returned with STS-118. Now that the

mission is complete, the seeds will be distributed to students

and educators as part of a comprehensive education plan for

STS-118. On-orbit operations included capturing still images

of the seeds in a microgravity environment.

Both EPO-Kit C and EPO-Educator align with groundbased

education activities that were planned in conjunction

with STS-118. As part of these activities, students in

kindergarten through 12th grade will validate the performance

of their plant growth chamber design (using flown

and control seeds) by conducting scientific investigations of

their choosing.

“EPO Educator” was manifested for launch and return on

flight STS-118, while “EPO Kit C” was manifested for launch

on STS-118 and return on STS-120, targeted for October.

The investigations and related activities have strong ties to

the U.S.’s Vision for Space Exploration, encouraging students

to pursue studies and careers in science, technology,

Barbara Morgan on what inspired her to

become a teacher:

EPO Kit C Hardware and Plant-Growth Chamber

“Well I have a wonderful career as a teacher, and I

do look forward to going back in the future. It was

something I wanted to do when I was little because I

loved learning, and I had great teachers growing up.

I think they had a lot of influence on me. At the age I

was through high school and college years, basically

the only thing that seemed like girls did was either

become teachers or nurses. And I really, I really didn’t

like those limitations. But in my studies in college in

human biology, one of my classes that really fascinated

me a lot was on the brain. It was the structure

and function of the brain. At the same time I was also

taking a psychology class on learning and learning

theories and memory. All of that stuff kind of put

together was something that really captured my interest.

At some point, I was walking around the bookstore

and I don’t know why this happened, but I just

got drawn to the education section and happened to

pick up a book about somebody that I knew nothing

about. It was Maria Montessori, who, it turned out,

obviously, was a very…well-known educator. In kind

of putting all those things together, I thought, ‘If these

are the things I’m interested in … ,’ and it reawakened

that desire when I was a little kid of wanting to be a

teacher. And I always knew I wanted to do something

in the service area. And I thought, ‘Boy, if these are

the things I’m interested in, what a better place to

learn more about this and be in the profession than

going into teaching.’ It was the right decision. I taught

for 24 years before taking this lateral move to do this

job. And I loved every minute of it.”

34 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and applying

these disciplines to future exploration goals.

Engineering Design Challenges

To mark Morgan’s first flight, NASA’s Exploration Systems

Mission Directorate (ESMD) and Office of Education cosponsored

standards-based Engineering Design Challenges

for students in elementary, middle, and high school. This

was the primary focus for ground-based education activities

aligned with the STS-118 mission. In this challenge,

students were charged with designing a plant growth

chamber for the moon that could be either delivered to the

moon as a complete unit or assembled on the lunar surface.

Given a basic set of requirements and constraints, students

designed, built, and evaluated the system. All elements of

the design challenge map to standards for technological

literacy (which includes engineering design), science, and

mathematics. Additionally, the elementary challenges map

to standards for language arts and social studies. The challenges

were developed by ITEA in partnership with NASA.

In addition to a design/build/evaluate track, a design/evaluate

track is being offered in order to make the challenge

attractive to both teachers with experience in engineering

ITEA’s Role in the Design Challenges

The STS-118 Design Challenges reflect leadingedge

content that is consistent with the challenges

faced by NASA, and they also correlate with ITEA’s

Model Program for Technological Literacy, Engineering

byDesign (EbD) (www.engineeringbydesign.

org). ITEA partnered with NASA to develop the

engineering design challenges that correspond with

the STS-118 mission and the first flight of an Educator

Astronaut, ITEA member Barbara Morgan. The

STS-118 Design Challenges are part of ITEA’s Human

Exploration Project (HEP) and reflect a unique

partnership between NASA engineers and scientists

and educators. The author/educators visited various

NASA Centers prior to curricular development and

talked one-on-one with the engineers and scientists

who work every day to find answers to the challenges

that NASA faces. Author/educators toured the laboratories

and were able to ask questions. During curricular

development and revision, author/educators were

able to correspond with NASA to obtain answers to

additional questions. The resulting units went through

a vigorous NASA educational review prior to being

posted on the NASA Portal. Simultaneous with this

review, ITEA conducted summer workshops on the

design challenges around the United States. For information

about scheduling a professional development

workshop on the design challenges or about EbD,

contact Barry Burke at 301-482-1929 or via email at

bburke@iteaconnect.org.

The Design Challenges are available as a printable

pdf on the NASA Portal: www.nasa.gov/sts118. From

that Web page, click on “Education.” There, educators

can register for the challenge and become eligible to

receive the space-flown and control seed packets. The

design challenges are also available through ITEA

on CD in both interactive, electronic format as well

as printable pdfs. All three versions—elementary,

middle, and high school—are packaged on one CD

along with additional resources. To order a CD, call

703-860-2100. For more information about the design

challenges or additional HEP space exploration units,

contact Shelli Meade at 540-382-4804 or via email at

smeade@iteaconnect.org.

Barbara Morgan speaks to an audience of students and media

during a demonstration at Space Center Houston.

35 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


and technology education and those who may not have as

much comfort and/or classroom time to build a chamber

prototype. The engineering design challenges offer lesson

guides, extensions, assessments, and resource background

materials. Teaching tips and strategies, advice from NASA

plant researchers, and recommendations from NASA design

engineers are incorporated into the challenge website. A

career corner on the website highlights the different areas of

study that are related to plant growth research and engineering

design. Once a system is built or obtained (and the

design evaluated), registered teachers are eligible to receive

a set of cinnamon basil seeds, flown on STS-118 with

Educator Astronaut Barbara Morgan, with which to validate

the performance of the system and run additional experiments.

Approximately 100,000 packets of STS-118 seeds will

be made available. Control (non-space flown) basil seeds

will also be provided. Educators may obtain from NASA a

certificate of participation by completing a final evaluation

of the engineering design challenge.

Depicts the location of STS-118 payload hardware.

Barbara Morgan talks about the education

payloads on the STS-118 mission.

“That puts a big smile on my face! First, our education

goals for this mission: We want to engage as

many students and teachers as we can in actively

participating in the Vision for Space Exploration,

actively participating in moon, Mars, and beyond. So

our education payloads…are in support of that. It’s

really all about what kids and their teachers and their

scout leaders and museum directors are doing on the

ground and what we do on orbit. We call it kind of

the icing on the cake, too, to support what they’re doing

on the ground. We’re taking up a couple of small

growth chambers, and we’re taking up…I like to say a

kazillion—many, many, many, many plant seeds. And,

the seeds we’re going to take up and most all of them

we’re going to bring back down. The growth chambers

we’re going to transfer over to the International

Space Station where Clay Anderson, once we leave,

will get those growing. The idea is that all of this is

ongoing. Nothing really starts and stops. We want

our young people to have a sense of that, too—that

the education payload that we have will be up on

station and continue long past when we come back.

All of this is just a small part of what we see happening

in the future. What we’re taking up, these plant

growth chambers, are to get them thinking about one

of many, many questions that need to be answered,

which is: How do you sustain life for long duration on

the moon or on Mars and beyond? So, we would like

them to think about what kinds of plants are the best

to grow. How are you going to grow them? What are

the things that you need to consider to grow them,

whether you’re in the environment of the moon or the

environment of Mars or on a spacecraft that’s going

to take you there or on the International Space Station?

And, we’re going to have an engineering design

challenge for them where we would like for them to

design and build a model or a working prototype of

a plant growth chamber. We would love to see their

designs. And the seeds that we’re taking up, we’re

bringing back down for them. It’s both real and metaphorical

to get something literally physical into their

hands that says, ‘Go do the stuff that we get to do.’ You

know, ‘Go do exploring, experimenting, and discovering.

We’re not going to tell you what to do and how to

do it. They’re yours to do just like we do.’”

36 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


For More Information

For more information on the STS-118 mission, please visit

www.nasa.gov/STS118. Click on “Education” to find out

more about the ITEA-NASA STS-118 Design Challenges as

well as other educational initiatives connected to the

mission. For additional information about the ITEA-NASA

STS-118 Design Challenges, as well as similar educational

initiatives, contact Shelli Meade at smeade@iteaconnect.org

or via phone at 540-382-4804.

Launchpad: Space Shuttle Endeavour on Launchpad 39-A, prior to launch.

37 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


Astronaut Barbara R. Morgan, mission specialist,

is surrounded by supplies in SPACEHAB, located

in the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Supply transfer was one of the main activities on

the agenda August 17 for the STS-118 crewmembers,

who learned their anticipated departure from

the International Space Station would come a day

earlier due to weather issues back home.

Astronaut Barbara R. Morgan,

STS-118 mission specialist, pauses

for a photo while holding a still

camera on the middeck of

Space Shuttle Endeavour.

38 • The Technology Teacher • October 2007


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