STEMmania! • MODEL PROGRAM • CLASSROOM CHALLENGE
The Voice of Technology Education
Volume 68 • Number 4
Is Hydroelectricity Green?
71 st Annual Conference
in over 6000 schools
VEX is a trademark of Innovation First. LEGO MINDSTORMS is a trademark of the LEGO Group.
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Give Yourself a Gift This Holiday Season!
Free From the Smithsonian and ITEA
Education Programs from the Smit hsonian’s Lemelson Center
The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation provides programming and resources designed to
educate young people about the role of the American inventor, both historically and in today’s world. Through the
Lemelson Center, teachers can access the vast collections and scholarship of the Smithsonian Institution and the National
Museum of American History for award-winning resources that they can use in the classroom to teach important
concepts and ideas related to history, science, and technology. Behind every invention there is a story that can
inspire young people to explore their own creativity and to see themselves as inventors. By incorporating the stories
of famous American inventors, including firsthand accounts from those still at work, the Lemelson Center has created
this series of video productions for students that explores the nature and history of invention and innovation.
The Electric Guitar: Its Makers and Its Players
The Lemelson Center presents this 1996 video field trip in cooperation with the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame and Museum. Meet guitar maker Paul Reed Smith and guitar player G.E. Smith, who
demonstrate their crafts and share stories about some of the people involved in developing and
popularizing the electric guitar. Moderated by Bob Santelli, former director of education at the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
P224 - FREE! - $2 Shipping charge ($5 outside the U.S.)
Delivered in DVD format, closed captioned, 30 minutes, 2004
Reinventing the Wheel: The Continuing Evolution of the Bicycle
Explores the bicycle’s unique history and technology. The velocipede achieved great popularity
almost immediately when it was introduced more than a century ago. Countless inventors were
inspired to make bicycles more efficient and comfortable, and bicycle innovation continues today.
Cycling also sparked unexpected social changes, as various groups adopted bicycles for their own
needs. See historic bicycles from the collections of the National Museum of American History and
some amazing prototypes for the future. Program highlights include “high wheelers,” hand-powered
cycles for the disabled, mountain bikes, and even a bicycle that rides on snow.
P226 - FREE! - $2 Shipping charge ($5 outside the U.S.)
Delivered in DVD format, closed captioned, 45 minutes, 2002
Lewis Latimer: Renaissance Man, African American Inventor
The Brewery Troupe and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center present a puppet play that tells the
story of African American inventor Lewis Latimer. Although he was a member of the Edison Pioneers,
a group associated with the famous inventor Thomas Edison, Latimer is not a well-known
figure. The son of slaves, this self-educated man rose to become an inventor, poet, and activist.
Through the unique artistry of puppet theater, Brad Brewer’s “Crowtations” tell Latimer’s exciting
story to celebrate his 150th birthday.
P225 - FREE! - $2 Shipping charge ($5 outside the U.S.)
Delivered in DVD format, closed captioned, 30 minutes, 1999
She’s Got It! Women Inventors and Their Inspirations
Curious about women inventors? Designed for use in the classroom or at home, this video features
women and girls who share a common creative spirit and have won invention prizes and awards.
Many have appeared in the Lemelson Center’s “Innovative Lives” series for middle school students.
P227 - FREE! - $2 Shipping charge ($5 outside the U.S.)
Delivered in DVD format, closed captioned, 29 minutes, 2000
These educational materials are available free of charge as a joint project of the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for
the Study of Invention and Innovation and ITEA.
Call 703-860-2100 for information on how to obtain your copy.
There is a nominal $2.00 fee per DVD to cover shipping expenses.
DECEMBER/JANUARY • VOL. 68 • NO. 4
Resources in Technology—
Is Hydroelectricity Green?
English Language Learner Engineering Collaborative
Details the outcome of an ELL-only class within one school’s engineering academy—
presenting a need to develop new engineering design challenges and the opportunity to reach
Hispanic students often missing from engineering classrooms at the university level.
Katy Pendergraft, Michael K. Daugherty, and Charles Rosetti
IED Cleanup: A Cooperative Classroom Robotics Challenge – The
Benefits and Execution of a Cooperative Classroom Robotics Challenge
This classroom challenge was created to incorporate a humanitarian project with the use of a
robotics design system in order to remove simulated IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) to
a detonation zone within a specified amount of time.
Mark Piotrowski and Rich Kressly
Integrative STEM Education: Primer
An examination of the history and importance of integrative STEM Education.
Model Program: Southern Lehigh High School
Insert: ITEA 71 st Annual Conference Preliminary Program
Publisher, Kendall N. Starkweather, DTE
Editor-In-Chief, Kathleen B. de la Paz
Editor, Kathie F. Cluff
ITEA Board of Directors
Len Litowitz, DTE, President
Andy Stephenson, DTE, Past President
Ed Denton, DTE, President-Elect
Doug Miller, Director, ITEA-CS
Scott Warner, Director, Region I
Michael A. Fitzgerald, DTE, Director, Region II
Steve Meyer, Director, Region III
Patrick McDonald, Director, Region IV
Michael DeMiranda, Director, CTTE
Peter Wright, Director, TECA
Ginger Whiting, Director, TECC
Kendall N. Starkweather, DTE, CAE,
ITEA is an affiliate of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science.
The Technology Teacher, ISSN: 0746-3537,
is published eight times a year (September
through June with combined December/January
and May/June issues) by the International
Technology Education Association, 1914
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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
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All articles should be sent directly to the Editor-in-Chief,
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Please submit articles and photographs via email
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manuscripts is eight pages. Manuscripts should be prepared
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Editorial guidelines and review policies are available by
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1 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
ITEA Prepares to
Launch “Mission Green
In preparation for launching
a full-scale effort to educate
and share resources on the
topic of sustainability, ITEA
is actively looking for sources
of “green” articles, resources,
and other developments. If
you have a knowledge base that involves any of these areas,
please contact Katie de la Paz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can put your knowledge and experience to work!
Delivering the T & E in STEM—March 2009—
Join ITEA in Louisville!
Mark your calendar now for the one event you must
attend in the new year. ITEA’s 71 st Annual Conference
in Louisville, Kentucky—March 26-28, 2009—promises
you three days of the best professional development and
networking opportunites available. The complete conference
Preliminary Program is located in the center section of this
issue of TTT. Special preregistration pricing is available
until February 27, 2009, and special, deeply discounted
room rates are available at the ITEA official conference
hotels. You can also find the latest conference information at
Governing Board Awards WestEd $1.86 Million
Contract To Develop First-Ever Technological
For the first time ever, technological literacy will be part of
the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP),
also known as The Nation’s Report Card. The first step
toward this unprecedented assessment was announced
October 6, 2008 by the National Assessment Governing
Board, which awarded WestEd a $1.86 million contract to
develop the 2012 NAEP Technological Literacy Framework.
Under this new contract, awarded after a competitive
bidding process, WestEd—a national education research
and development organization based in San Francisco—
will recommend the framework and test specifications
for the 2012 NAEP Technological Literacy assessment.
Ultimately, this task will lead to ways to define and measure
students’ knowledge and skills in understanding important
technological tools. Governing Board members will then
decide which grade level—4 th , 8 th , or 12 th —will be tested in
The NAEP Technological Literacy Assessment is
the country’s first nationwide assessment of student
achievement in this area. The work comes at a time when
there are no nationwide requirements or common definition
for technological literacy. Few states have adopted separate
tests in this area, even as more business representatives
and policymakers voice concern about American students’
abilities to compete in a global marketplace and keep up
with quickly evolving technology.
Several groups will assist WestEd for this 18-month project,
including the Council of Chief State School Officers and the
International Technology Education Association. With
this assistance, WestEd plans to convene two committees
that will include technology experts, engineers, teachers,
scientists, business representatives, state and local
policymakers, and employers from across the country. The
committees will advise WestEd on the content and design
of the assessment and make recommendations to the Board
on the framework and specifications for the 2012 NAEP
Technological Literacy Assessment. In addition, hundreds
of experts in various fields and the general public will
participate in hearings or provide reviews of the framework
document as it is developed. Ultimately, the collaboration
will reflect the perspectives of a diverse array of individuals
and groups. The Governing Board is slated to review and
approve the technological literacy framework in late 2009.
The Nation’s Report Card is the only nationally
representative, continuing evaluation of the condition of
education in the United States and has served as a national
yardstick of student achievement since 1969. Through the
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP),
The Nation’s Report Card informs the public about what
America’s students know and can do in various subject areas,
and compares achievement data between states and various
student demographic groups.
The National Assessment Governing Board is an
independent, bipartisan board whose members include
governors, state legislators, local and state school officials,
educators, business representatives, and members of the
general public. Congress created the 26-member Governing
Board in 1988 to set policy for NAEP.
2 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
February 12-14, 2009 The Virginia Technology Education
Association will present its annual Virginia Children’s
Engineering Convention at the Holiday Inn Select – Kroger
Center in Midlothian, Virginia. Information can be found at
February 15-21, 2009 Engineers Week 2009 will take
place nationwide. Organized by the National Engineers
Week Foundation and chaired by NSPE and Intel, the
2009 celebration will continue to enrich ongoing efforts in
Engineers Week’s large portfolio of educational programs
designed to inspire young people, such as the National
Engineers Week Future City Competition and Introduce a
Girl to Engineering Day (February 19, 2009). For complete
information, go to www.eweek.org.
February 27, 2009
Preregistration deadline for the
71 st Annual ITEA Conference
and Exposition, “Delivering
the T & E in STEM,” to be
held in Louisville, Kentucky
March 26-28, 2009. Members,
nonmembers, and students alike
will save a considerable amount over the on-site registration
rates by registering early. So register before this important
date —you’ll be glad you did! Choose online registration
or a printable registration form and access all conference
information at www.iteaconnect.org/Conference/
March 26-28, 2009 ITEA’s 71 st Annual Conference
and Exhibition and 70th Birthday Celebration will
be held in Louisville, Kentucky. The 2009 conference
theme is “Delivering the T & E in STEM.” STEM is one
of the hottest education topics in America right now.
Technology education can and does play a critical role
in helping school districts deliver all aspects of STEM
education to students, with particular emphasis on the
“T” and the “E.” The 2009 Louisville Conference will
consist of presentations that address the following five
subthemes or tracks: TECHNOLOGY, INNOVATION,
DESIGN, ENGINEERING, and STEM INTEGRATION.
The discussions are sure to be of crucial importance to
those interested in the field of technology and engineering
education. Mark your calendar now for March 26-28, 2009
and join ITEA in beautiful Louisville, Kentucky for the 71 st
Annual ITEA Conference and Exhibition.
The Technology Teacher journal is currently
conducting a Call for Articles.
Articles are intended to be used as part of
a future “themed” issue of the journal and
should relate to the topic, “Teaching Green
Activities in Technology Education.”
Deadline: July 1, 2009.
Questions or submissions should be
directed to email@example.com.
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@
3 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
Resources in Technology
Is Hydroelectricity Green?
By Vincent W. Childress
Are you thinking that air pollution
will be reduced significantly once the
United States switches to electric
vehicles? Guess again.
The current worldwide concern over energy is primarily
related to imported oil, oil drilling and refining capacity, and
transportation capacity. However, this concern has bolstered
interest in a broader range of “green” energy technologies.
Concern over the environment is well founded. The
Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air Quality
Planning and Standards (1998) estimates that by 2010,
electrical generators in the United States will dump 182,968
tons of particulate air pollution per year. These pollutants
include mercury, lead, arsenic, hydrogen chloride, and many
more carcinogens and toxins that cause lung cancer, asthma,
and other diseases, and degrade flora and fauna. Also
released is carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas. Are
you thinking that air pollution will be reduced significantly
once the United States switches to electric vehicles? Guess
again. There may be a reduction in air pollution in busy
locations, but its significance remains to be seen. China
Figure 1-A. The conversion of most energy sources such as coal,
natural gas, oil, and nuclear follows a similar process. The fuel
source is converted into heat energy, which then is converted into
steam that is used to produce mechanical energy in a turbine.
uses coal extensively to generate electricity, and the United
States also uses large quantities of coal for electrical power
generation. In the future when your electric car runs out
of electricity, you will plug it in to a convenience outlet at
home, school, or work, and you will essentially be running
your automobile on coal, natural gas, petroleum, or nuclear
energy sources, all of which have major problems associated
with them, and all of which are the main energy sources for
generating electricity in the United States.
4 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
Concern over imported energy in the United States is well
founded. Some natural gas is imported, and natural gas
accounts for 40 percent of the United States’ electricalgenerating
capacity. Petroleum accounts for 6 percent
of electrical-generating capacity. Coal and nuclear are
major contributors to electrical generation also (Energy
Information Administration, 2007). Coal accounts for
almost all of the air pollution associated with electrical
generation (Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards,
1998), and no one knows with great certainty how to safely
store radioactive waste from nuclear power plants to the
extent that humans and the environment will be protected
one thousand years from now when that same waste will still
Could hydroelectricity be part of the solution?
Hydroelectricity is similar to nuclear electricity in that
there are very few airborne pollutants that result from the
generating process during normal operation. Nuclear power
accounts for slightly more of the United States’ generating
capacity than hydroelectric. There are currently 3,988
hydroelectric generating units in the United States—
23.5 percent of all generating units. However, that only
represents 7.7 percent of the electricity generated annually
(Energy Information Administration, 2007). There is
obviously a practical disadvantage to depending on
hydroelectricity; these power plants are not always able to
operate if the water supply is low.
Why Fuels Are Needed to Generate Electricity
Electromagnetic induction is a phenomenon by which
electrical current can be made to flow in an electrical
conductor. Copper wire is an example of an electrical
conductor, and at the atomic level, copper has an extra
electron in its outer shell. When that electron is caused to
move from one copper atom to another, you have electrical
current or the flow of electricity. Electrons in neighboring
atoms are behaving the same way, so you end up with
current flowing in all parts of the conductor. What can cause
the electron to move from one atom to another? Magnetism.
In order to induce current flow in a conductor, there
must be relative motion between the conductor and the
magnetic field. No matter what the source of energy used
to generate useable electrical current from electromagnetic
induction, the process is basically the same—move an
electrical conductor in a magnetic field or move a magnetic
field across an electrical conductor. What creates this
motion? Steam or water is used to turn a turbine that turns
Figure 1. Philpott Dam and its power plant were constructed by the Army Corp of Engineers primarily
to control flooding in the small community of Bassett, Virginia. Generating electricity is an added
benefit for this project.
5 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
the parts of a generator so that the motion required for
electromagnetic induction is sustained. To produce the
steam, fuel must be burned. What fuel is burned? Coal,
natural gas, and petroleum; and for nuclear, the radiation is
used to heat the water to produce steam. Therefore, thermal
energy is converted into mechanical energy, which is
converted into electrical energy as shown in Figure 1-A.
How Hydroelectricity Works
There are a few different configurations of hydroelectric
generation processes. For example, the motion of water
moving due to the ocean tide can be harnessed in order
to generate electricity. So can the motion of a flowing
river. However, the primary configuration of hydroelectric
generation comes in the form of dams—dams that store
massive amounts of water. When electricity is needed, water
is released from the dam.
A dam is constructed of concrete or nonorganic soil and
rock across a river or other body of water. Water backs
up behind the dam and creates a head of potential energy.
A passageway is built inside the dam that starts high on
the upstream side of the dam and leads down through the
dam to the powerhouse, where the generators are located.
See Figure 5. This passageway is called the penstock. The
penstock leads rushing water and its kinetic energy to the
scroll case. The scroll case is a spiral shaped housing that
causes the water to flow around the turbine in a more
efficient way. The turbine is a wheel with vanes on it that
is directly turned by the water. (For non-hydro induction
Figure 2. This turbine was used to harness the energy of flowing
water in the hydroelectric plant at Smith Mountain Lake in
Virginia. The plant is owned and operated by American Electric
Figure 3. A simplified diagram of a generator showing the basic
parts and the difference in single-phase and three-phase electrical
power plants, the turbine is the part that is turned by the
steam mentioned above, and it looks more like a turbine in
a jet engine.) The turbine is connected to the generator by a
large flange or shaft.
The generator itself has two basic parts: the stator, which
is stationary, and the rotor, which rotates. Generators in
hydroelectric plants are usually conventional. The magnetic
field is produced using electromagnets carefully positioned
at different locations in the stator. The electricity that is used
to produce the magnetism in these “field magnets” comes
from the same power grid that serves other industries and
commercial operations in the area. Electromagnets are coils
of wire wrapped around an armature or metal frame that
helps to structure the magnetic field (The Electricity Forum,
2008). When electrical current flows through a conductor, it
produces electromagnetism. If the conductor is coiled, then
the magnetic field is much stronger. The rotor also has coils
of wire wrapped around an armature. These coils, turned by
the turbine, spin rapidly inside of the magnetic fields, and
electrical current is induced in them. Mechanical energy is
converted into electrical energy.
The electrical current flows to the power grid to be
consumed. A connection is made between the shaft of the
rotor and the power lines to the grid with slip rings that
maintain contact but still allow the rotor to rotate.
6 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
When electricity is generated by induction, current flows
when the conductor is in the magnetic field. Say the
electricity has a magnitude of 10,000 volts AC. When the
conductor is no longer in the magnetic field and no current
is flowing, the magnitude is 0 volts AC. Also, when the
conductor moves in one direction in the magnetic field,
current may be positive moving; but when the conductor
moves in the opposite direction, it may be negative moving.
The direction of the movement in relationship to the
polarity of the magnetic fields makes the current either
positive or negative.
This is a relative thing when considering electricity in the
United States. The United States uses alternating current.
Other parts of the world use direct current. Remember
the free electron moving from one atom to the other in the
description above? When alternating current is positive
moving, the electron in the copper wire is moving in one
direction. When alternating current is negative moving,
the electron starts moving back in the opposite direction.
Alternating current alternates between being negative and
positive in polarity. In the United States, electricity changes
its polarity 60 times per second. It has to be delivered that
way in order for appliances and other electrical devices to
operate correctly (Abul-Fadl, 2008).
In the United States, residential electricity is delivered
generally at 240 volts AC at 60 Hertz, and it is single phase.
The generator is designed to produce electricity that
cycles correctly when it reaches the consumer (Abul-Fadl,
2008). For a simple generator, the stator may have two
field magnets on opposite sides. If you add two more field
magnets at ninety degrees to the first two, you generate twophase
electricity, and if you arrange three field magnet pairs
at 120 degrees around the stator, you will generate threephase
electricity (The Electricity Forum, 2008). Three-phase
electricity is used by industries to run very large motors
more efficiently. Using transformers, power companies
can deliver single-phase or three-phase electricity. Where
there are three transformers together on a power pole,
three-phase electricity is available. Where there is only one
transformer on a pole, single phase is available. Three-phase
electricity is more efficient for heavy applications because
the magnitude of electricity available to run the appliance is
never dropped to zero as it is with single phase.
Is Hydroelectricity Green?
That is a good question. Compared with burning coal,
yes, hydroelectric generation produces virtually no air
pollution, and many dams around the country have been
built in order to prevent downstream communities from
flooding, so there are benefits. However, there are some
negative environmental impacts. Depending on how large
the reservoir becomes, large plant and animal habitats
can be disrupted by isolating or wiping out groups of flora
and fauna (Environmental Protection Agency, 2007). For
example, the Three Gorges Dam in China has taken a
significant amount of habitat needed for the endangered
Giant Panda (Hvistendahl, 2008). A widely known impact
of dams on river systems is the disruption that dams cause
in the spawning cycle of fish such as salmon. These fish
migrate upstream in rivers in order to lay eggs. When
they encounter dams, the fish are not able to continue
swimming upstream. Some species will not successfully
spawn as a result. As a solution to this problem, operational
dams have special stair-step channels that allow the
fish to maneuver around the dam and continue on their
migration to spawning grounds, and obsolete dams are
destroyed. In some cases, dams create reservoirs that
cause local extinctions of locally specialized endangered
species (Environmental Protection Agency, 2007; see also
There is sometimes a bitter human toll related to
hydroelectricity and the damming of rivers. Because vast
acres of land are often flooded when dams are built, private
homes, businesses, and sometimes entire small towns have
to be condemned because they are located where the water
will eventually exist when the reservoir fills. The Three
Gorges Dam in China dislocated an estimated 22.9 million
people. This massive project has also caused landslides that
have destroyed entire towns, and now scientists fear that
the dam structure itself may be vulnerable to earthquakes
(Hvistendahl, 2008). A breach of a dam the size of the Three
Gorges would create a catastrophe downstream.
Is hydroelectricity green? Like most technologies, there
are tradeoffs with hydroelectricity. Large dam projects
tend to produce more electricity by accommodating
multiple generators, but they disrupt communities and
the environment. Smaller dam projects tend to be less
disruptive, but they produce modest amounts of electricity.
Most hydroelectric generators are not able to produce
electricity on demand 100 percent of the time. There are
restrictions on how low a reservoir can be drained, and
there is no control over rainfall levels. Given the results
of projects like the Three Gorges Dam, it seems sensible
that policymakers strike a balance among technological
ambition, the needs of people, and the environment.
Perhaps hydroelectricity is green to the extent that
small-scale hydroelectric projects are less likely to have a
damaging impact on the environment and cause extinctions,
7 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
and if hydroelectricity is used as a component in an overall
plan for clean energy, such as solar energy and wind energy,
it could be a meaningful part of the solution.
Technology, Science, Mathematics Interfaces
The following activity addresses Standards for Technological
Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (ITEA,
2000/2002/2007) Standard 16, Benchmarks E and G.
Students will develop an understanding of and be able to
select and use energy and power technologies. (p. 158)
Energy is the capacity to do work. (p. 162)
Power is the rate at which energy is converted from
one form to another…[and is] the rate at which
work is done. (p. 162)
To address these benchmarks, the technology teacher
will challenge students to design a better water turbine in
order to increase the power output of a small DC electric
motor that is being used as a generator. The testing setup is
shown in Figure 4 (adapted from LaPorte & Sanders, 1994).
Power in watts equals the electrical current multiplied
by its voltage. To determine the electrical power of the
generator, you must measure the current and the voltage
simultaneously. The first turbine design that can be used
Figure 4. Testing setup for DC generator.
as a demonstration of the testing setup and as the baseline
wattage may simply be a model gear fixed to the shaft of the
DC generator. Allow students to design turbine vanes that
capitalize on increased vane surface area. Students should
also be allowed to design turbines that are contained in
housings that help to channel the water over the turbine
just like a scroll case. Such a housing would have to fit the
tubing the teacher uses to simulate the penstock. However,
it is important that students be constrained to a specific
volume within which their turbines and scroll cases must fit.
The amount of water flowing over or into the turbine is up
to the technology teacher, but accommodations will have to
be made to protect the small generator from contact with
the water and to collect the water as it exits the turbine. Use
a small one-volt DC electric motor for the generator and
about a 10-ohm power resistor. The current and voltage
generated will be small and safe.
Get the mathematics teacher involved by asking him or her
to teach students how to optimize their turbine size using
the volume of a cylinder (∏r 2 ). Get the science teacher
involved by asking him or her to help students equate the
head and the kinetic energy of the rushing water to the
power output of the generator and the losses involved.
Abul-Fadl, A. (2008). Personal communication.
The Electricity Forum. (2008). Electricity generation.
Geneva, NY: Author. Retrieved September 20, 2008, from
Energy Information Administration. (2007). Energy
generating capacity. Washington, DC: U.S. Department
of Energy. Retrieved September 30, 2008, from www.eia.
Environmental Protection Agency. (2007). Clean energy:
Hydroelectricity. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved
September 20, 2008, from www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/
Hvistendahl, M. (2008). China’s Three Gorges Dam: An
environmental catastrophe? Scientific American [online].
Retrieved September 20, 2008, from www.sciam.com/
International Technology Education Association.
(2000/2002/2007). Standards for technological literacy:
Content for the study of technology. Reston, VA: Author.
LaPorte, J. E. & Sanders, M. E. (1994). Capture the wind.
Unpublished learning activity written with a grant
from the National Science Foundation. Blacksburg, VA:
Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards. (1998).
Study of hazardous air pollutant emissions from electric
utility steam generating units: Final report to Congress.
8 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
Figure 5. The parts of a typical hydroelectric dam.
Washington, DC: Environmental Protection Agency.
Retrieved September 20, 2007, from www.epa.gov/ttn/
Design Brief: Hydroelectricity –
By this point, you’ve already learned about the forms of
energy. Hydroelectric dams have generators that convert
the mechanical energy of rushing water into electrical
energy through electromagnetic induction. See Figure 5 to
get a better understanding of how hydroelectric dams are
constructed. Your teacher will have taught you more about
dams and hydroelectricity. Hydroelectric dams are a cleaner
way of generating electricity as compared with coal or gasfired
power plants. However, for hydroelectric plants to be
as efficient as possible, their generators must be turned by
You are a mechanical engineer who has been asked to help
an electrical engineer improve the design of a hydroelectric
Not enough electrical power is being generated from the
You must design a better turbine to capture the force of the
water flowing from the dam’s penstock.
• Energy is the ability to do work.
• Force makes an object move.
• Work is force multiplied by distance. For electricity, the
force is the voltage, and the distance is accounted for by
the electrical current reading that you will make with an
electrical meter. There is movement in electrical circuits—
the movement of electrons—but you cannot see this
movement directly with your own eyes.
• Power is the amount of work done in a given time. Power
in electricity is voltage times current when electricity
is being consumed. The time is accounted for by the
electrical current reading.
Use your understanding of math and science to develop a
better turbine for the hydroelectric generator. Your turbine
must fit within a volume of _______ cubic centimeters, and
it must be able to attach to the shaft of the generator.
• Demonstrate that you know how to use mathematics
and knowledge of volume to maximize the size of your
• Explain the relationship between the energy of the rushing
water and the energy of the electricity that is generated.
• Explain how a generator works.
• Explain how a hydroelectric dam and power plant work.
• Explain how work was being done in the electrical circuit
used to test your turbine.
• Explain how you know how much power was generated by
the generator with your turbine.
Assessment of the Solution
Your solution and related paperwork should meet the
requirements specified above and should help you address
Vincent W. Childress, Ph.D., is a professor
in Technology Education at North Carolina
A&T State University in Greensboro, North
Carolina. He can be reached at childres@
Thanks to Ali Abul-Fadl, Ph.D., Associate Professor
of Electrical Engineering at North Carolina A&T State
University for consulting on this article.
By this time in your schooling you may not have yet learned
about the relationship among energy, work, and power.
9 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
English Language Learner
By Katy Pendergraft, Michael K. Daugherty, and
The elementary students were
engaged in an unusual setting
for learning and will remember
the positive experience in future
years as they select classes in
both core and elective studies.
Faculty members in the Engineering Academy at Springdale
High School in Springdale, Arkansas have been using
engineering design activities to introduce students to the
open-ended and multidisciplinary nature of engineering for
several years. Working with challenging engineering design
problems provides academy students with opportunities to
apply the science, math, and technology concepts that they
have been studying in associated classes (Charles Rossetti,
personal communication, January 15, 2007). Recent engineering
design problems have been created to include high
levels of math, science, and technology—as well as a healthy
dose of reality. Practicing engineers are routinely faced with
challenges that go far beyond the core fundamentals taught
in the average classroom (Sepulveda, 2001), and in many
cases these challenges are societal in nature.
In the past seven years, Springdale, Arkansas has transitioned
from a community of 45,790, of whom 19.7% were
of Hispanic origin, to a community of 62,459 citizens, of
whom 32.8% are of Hispanic origin. This rapid population
shift has resulted in substantial growth of English Language
Learners (ELL) at Springdale High School. ELL students are
language minority students who have been assessed in four
areas—reading, writing, speaking, and listening—using an
English language proficiency assessment and are not proficient
in any of the four areas. In 2006, faculty at Springdale
initiated an ELL-only class within the Engineering Academy.
This new course presented a need to develop new engineering
design challenges as well as the opportunity to reach
Hispanic students often missing from engineering classrooms
at the university level. To illustrate the growing number
of students in this population, in the year 2000 minority
students represented 39 percent of all public school students
nationally in kindergarten through 12th grade—and 44 percent
of those minority students were Hispanic (17 percent of
total enrollment) (National Center for Educational Statistics,
10 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
2003). Additionally, between 1972 and 2000, the percentage
of Hispanic students in public schools increased 11 percentage
points, and the overall percentage of minority students
increased 17 percentage points. By comparison, the percentage
of black students in public schools increased only
about 2 percentage points between 1972 and 2000 (National
Center for Educational Statistics). This vast increase in
Hispanic population trends has created a need to invest in
tools that meet their individual needs.
It is imperative that more Hispanics be recruited into
engineering and technology fields if the United States is
to stay competitive in the global market. The composition
of the American workforce is changing. According to
Noeth, Cruce, and Harmston (2003), between 2003 and
2010 the number of people in the United States aged 18-24
will increase by 10 million, and minorities will account
for 60% of this population increase. Chubin (2003) states
that by 2050 non-Hispanic white males will make up 26%
of the workforce, and Hispanics will make up 24% of the
workforce. In 2002, Hispanics represented only 6.9% of all
engineering majors in colleges, while non-Hispanic Whites
represented 77.8% (Noeth et al.). Without increasing the
numbers of minorities in engineering and technological
fields, as the percentage of white males in the workforce
decreases, the number of engineers will decrease.
Background and Project Goals
In an effort to develop an engineering design project that
would deliver the necessary content and reach out to the
ELL community, faculty in the Engineering Academy
instituted the ELL Engineering Collaborative. The ELL
Engineering Collaborative has four primary goals; they
include: (1) delivering engineering content in a practical,
hands-on, contextual manner, (2) reaching out to ELL and
Hispanic communities through parental involvement,
(3) encouraging Hispanic students to consider a future
in engineering or teaching; (4) Drawing connections
between primary, secondary, and tertiary students in
Delivering engineering content in a practical, hands-on
manner engages students in learning and provides the
students with real experiences they can use later to solve
engineering problems. Students prefer classes that allow
them to work with others to plan and complete design projects.
Also, students believe courses that include practical
and hands-on experiences provide them with the creativity
and problem-solving skills they need to be successful in
STEM fields (Doppelt & Barak 2002). The ELL Engineering
Collaborative gave the high school students the hands-on
experience of teaching elementary students the skills needed
to solve design problems.
Parental involvement is one of the keys to student success
in school. According to Steinberg, et al. (as cited in Murphy,
2007), parental involvement sends the message to students
that school is important to their parents, so it should be
important to them. Parents of all the students involved in
the ELL collaborative were invited and encouraged to attend
the activities at the high school. The general community
was informed of this collaborative effort through newspaper
articles and television interviews with the local Hispanic
With such a need for young Hispanics to enter the engineering
field, how do we pique their interest in engineering?
The ELL Engineering Collaborative not only had the high
school students working on design projects, but elementary
students as well. The high school students may already have
career aspirations in mind, but the young elementary students
are still forming opinions about career fields. Through
the collaborative, young Hispanic students are planning,
designing, and constructing projects that solve engineering
design problems and are becoming familiar with core engineering
concepts at a very young age.
The ELL Engineering Collaborative allows students from
different schools and of different ages to meet and work
together on a central engineering design problem. The
elementary Hispanic students are paired with high school
Hispanic student mentors, and in some cases other minority
The Collaborative not only had the high school students working
on design projects, but elementary students as well.
11 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
groups are paired (i.e., Marshallese, Philippine, etc.). The
Collaborative introduces elementary students to the idea of
engineering, high school students to the idea of teaching,
and both to the idea of collaborating with others.
The ELL Engineering Collaborative
Secondary Engineering Academy students in the ELL
Engineering Collaborative are actively involved in teaching
technology education to younger students in the community.
The two ELL classes in the Engineering Academy
at Springdale High School teach ELL third graders from
elementary schools in Springdale how to draw by hand, draft
using a computer, and construct a design. Each high school
Hispanic student is paired with one elementary Hispanic
student. The high school students teach the elementary
students three engineering design lessons over a period of
several months. The elementary school teachers are encouraged
to spend some time introducing their students to some
of the key vocabulary used in each lesson before they travel
to the high school for the individual lesson. The concepts
taught during the three lessons can be difficult to comprehend
in any language other than one’s native language.
Pairing ELL high school students with ELL elementary
students helps both students feel confident in what they are
teaching or learning.
Hispanic students are paired with high school Hispanic
During the first lesson, the third grade students are taught
how to accurately measure in feet and inches, how to identify
basic geometric shapes, and how to identify computeraided
drafting tools and demonstrate their use in drawing a
design that solves an engineering problem. The second lesson,
which takes place a few months later, focuses on teaching
the elementary students how to identify various types
of technology used in manufacturing and construction and
helps the elementary students understand the technological
processes used in manufacturing and construction. During
this lesson, the elementary school students are given a tour
of the drafting and engineering/architecture classrooms
and labs. The students see a demonstration of a prototyping
machine, CIM milling machine, robotics, plotters, and a
stress analyzer. It is also during the second lesson when the
elementary students, with the help and instruction of the
high school students, produce and plot a CADD drawing of
the design they are going to build.
Observation of the second lesson showed students actively
involved in both teaching and learning. The elementary
students were engaged in the design activity and actively
conversed in both the English and Spanish languages with
their high school mentor. The level of understanding in the
elementary students was apparent by their attentiveness and
ability to complete the assigned tasks quickly. One university
observer noted that the elementary students were creating
design solutions using CAD software as if they had always
drawn things using a computer.
The third and final lesson consisted of the prototyping and
construction of the students’ design solutions. Once the
CAD drawing had been completed, a prototyping machine
was used to create a scaled model of the final design solution,
and this prototype was used as a model of the final
design solution. The elementary students used their prototype
as a guide when constructing by hand their final solution.
The classroom was filled with the sounds of materials
being cut to size and shape, hammers hitting nails, wood
being sanded, and students enjoying themselves. Although
the elementary teachers had a limited background in STEM,
they did note that the collaborative fit the needs of the
elementary curriculum and that the participating elementary
students gained a great deal from the experience (Jerri
Hughey, personal communication, March 6, 2007). The
collaborative allowed the participating elementary teachers
to introduce basic design principles, simple manufacturing
and engineering processes, geometric shapes, and vocabulary
in an engaging and exciting manner. One participating
elementary school teacher noted that some of her students
were struggling with measuring and fractions prior to the
collaborative, but when they were paired with a high school
student they picked up the new skills quickly (Jerri Hughey,
personal communication, March 6, 2007).
12 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
Summary and Conclusions
The focus of the English Language Learner Engineering
Collaborative was on two populations of students—high
school and elementary ELL students. The high school ELL
students developed engineering activities based on the class
content in their pre-engineering classes. The charge was to
compare the engineering curriculum to the frameworks of
the third grade students and to identify the STEM components
that would be used in the collaborative experience
of the two groups. The third grade students experienced
components of their frameworks, such as measuring and
basic geometry, through the applied activities and mentoring
of high school students. Because of the nature of this
collaboration with the two age groups, parental involvement
was mandated and initiated at the beginning of this project.
Parents were kept informed of the activities throughout the
year and were able to attend all of the collaborative activities.
The media involvement kept the Hispanic community
informed, stimulating parent conversations and sharing in
the Hispanic community. Placing the responsibility of success
on the efforts of the high school students gave them
a clear understanding of what teaching involves, and the
subject area focused all the students on design and development.
The elementary students were engaged in an unusual
setting for learning and will remember the positive experience
in future years as they select classes in the core and
elective studies. This might result in the younger students’
willingness to take courses that involve them in more rigorous
STEM curricula. Having these positive experiences in
elementary and high school may result in the students considering
teaching and/or engineering as a career or helping
them decide that these two careers are not for them. Either
way it narrows their decision-making choices for postsecondary
In the end, both the high school and elementary students
indicated that they benefited from this collaborative experience.
The elementary students were able to see firsthand
how the vocabulary, geometry, and fractions they learn
at their school are applied. Meanwhile, the high school
students are introduced to teaching and mentoring—which
takes them to a higher level of understanding and creates a
need to understand the material in more depth. While the
final impact of the collaborative won’t be known for some
time, observations indicate that the high school engineering
academy students came away from the experience with
irreplaceable teaching and mentoring experiences related
to technology education and engineering design. Observing
the students during activities in the ELL Engineering
Collaborative revealed the elementary students’ ability
to participate in engineering activities at a high level.
Hopefully, this experience will encourage both elementary
and secondary students to consider future opportunities in
One of the technology teachers from the Springdale
Engineering Academy indicated that over the past several
years faculty have implemented several large-scale engineering
projects, but without exception, the Engineering
Collaborative has engaged high school students in a way that
no other activity has (Charles Rossetti, personal communication,
January 15, 2007). The collaborative effort brings
together core concepts from several disciplines including
language, math, technology, and science, but the motivating
force for high school students is their responsibility to teach
a group of third grade students. If the third graders are successful
in learning the content, it is because the high school
students have done their job. The collaborative allows students
to engage in problem solving, use their creativity, and
feel a sense of accomplishment upon completion of their
project. For the elementary students, what could be more
exciting than working on a major project with high school
students, whom they idolize, and solving an engineering
design problem as a member of the team?
The challenges that technology teachers face sometimes
seem overwhelming. Faced with large class sizes, diverse
student groups requiring a variety of teaching strategies,
students for whom English is a second language, and
high-stakes tests that seem to drive the curriculum, many
teachers may be reluctant to initiate yet another project.
Technology teachers, however, are encouraged to consider
Both the high school and elementary students indicated that they
benefitted from this collaborative experience.
13 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
adapting the ELL Engineering Collaborative and engaging
students in an experience that will both motivate and
inspire students at almost any level within the public
Doppelt, Y. & Barak, M. (2002). Pupils identify key aspects
and outcomes of a technological learning environment.
Journal of Technology Studies, 28(1), 12-18.
May, G. S. & Chubin, D. E. (2003). A retrospective on
undergraduate engineering success for underrepresented
minority students. Journal of Engineering Education,
Murphy, A. S. (2007). An analysis of parental involvement in
secondary students’ education: The relationship to selective
educational leadership theories and implications for
school leaders. (Doctoral dissertation, The University of
Arizona, 2007). Dissertation Abstracts International, 68
National Center for Education Statistics. (2003). Status
and trends in the education of Hispanics. Retrieved June
7, 2007, from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2003/hispanics/
Noeth, R. J., Cruce, T., & Harmston, M. T. (2003).
Maintaining a Strong Engineering Workforce, ACT Policy
Sepulveda, D. A., (2001). Reality based education: A key to
railroad engineering success. Unpublished manuscript.
Katy Pendergraft is a graduate assistant in
Curriculum & Instruction at the University of
Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR. She can be reached
via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael K. Daugherty is Head, Curriculum
& Instruction at the University of Arkansas,
Fayetteville, AR. He can be reached via email
Charles Rossetti is Lead Teacher,
Engineering/Architecture, at Springdale High
School, Springdale, AR.
This is a refereed article.
the cad academy®............................................ 37
California University of Pennsylvania........ 36
Goodheart-Willcox Publisher...................... 14
Kelvin Electronics........................................... 19
LHR Technologies Inc................................... 35
State University of New York at Oswego... 36
Valley City State University.......................... 26
14 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
IED Cleanup: A Cooperative
Classroom Robotics Challenge
The Benefits and Execution of a Cooperative Classroom
By Mark Piotrowski and Rich Kressly
Robotics with a social
conscience has not only
energized our students with the
desire to improve our world,
but it has also begun to bring
teachers from mathematics,
science, and even English to
the technology education lab at
Lower Merion where true STEM
integration is growing.
“Students used to ask, ‘Why don’t you just give us something
to analyze?’ What we really want to hear is, ‘Show
us someone who needs help.’ [In order for that to occur]
culture shift is required.”
Dr. Woodie C. Flowers
MIT Pappalardo Professor of
Mechanical Engineering (2005)
Real-world problem solving, addressing societal needs,
and improving the quality of life are all synonymous with
technology education and its standards. In Pennsylvania,
standard 3.8.12 encourages students to, “Apply the use of
ingenuity and technological resources to solve specific
societal needs and improve the quality of life” (Pennsylvania
Department of Education, 2002). At the national level,
Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study
of Technology (STL) Standards 4, 5, 6, and 13 all relate to the
effects and impacts that development and use of technology
have on the environment and society in general (ITEA,
2000/2002/2007). However, the problem for the classroom
teacher lies within the creation of those engaging, current,
and relevant STEM-related problem-solving activities that
will have the most impact on students. In our program,
we have recently developed an activity that addresses the
above stated standards but also has strong interdisciplinary
connections. The following classroom challenge was created
to incorporate a humanitarian project with the use of
the Vex Robotics Design System to remove simulated IEDs
(Improvised Explosive Devices) to a detonation zone within
a specified amount of time. The relevance of this activity to
students is obvious given the deluge of war coverage in the
15 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
news media. Some of this media coverage may actually be
used as an anticipatory set and as part of the research phase
of the design process. Wired Magazine’s article titled, “The
Baghdad Bomb Squad” (Shachtman, 2005) documents a true
humanitarian need for smart machines that can save the
lives of soldiers and civilians in a combat zone.
Throughout this activity, named “IED Cleanup,” students
work in pairs to design and build robots to perform appropriate
tasks. However, the entire class works together to
develop a strategy, a set of complimentary designs, and a
collective plan for implementation to safely dispose of the
IEDs. There within lies one of the unique aspects of this
activity. Rather than competing against one another, teams
of students are cooperating together to solve a problem.
They quickly learn that the success of the team/class is
dependent upon efforts and communication skills of each
individual, which are real-world life skills that apply to college,
work, and life within our global society. Most importantly,
students are learning the overarching goal of STEM
and technology education, which is to use one’s skills and
knowledge to improve the world in which we live.
crucial to our future, implementation of a robotics challenge
such as the one described below may just provide the magic
mix of ingredients that helps produce the kind of contributing
citizens that our world so sorely needs. An added
benefit is that teachers can take advantage of the natural
student enthusiasm that comes with robotics projects. Such
activities position students to discover a great deal about
engineering, technology, teamwork, and their place in
society. Also, the teacher has the added benefit of addressing
a variety of related standards at an in-depth level.
Overview of the Classroom Challenge
IED Cleanup is performed on a 20-foot by 5-foot elevated
rectangular surface (adjacent tables) that we call “The
Flats.” The Flats are divided into equal sectors plus a 2-foot
“Detonation Zone” separated from the sectors by a 5.5-inch
wall. The challenge simulates a combat zone or post-war
scenario in which there is unexploded ordnance. Only
recently have robotic solutions to these types of problems
become viable. The object of the mission is for multiple
robotic inventions to safely pass and remove the simulated
IEDs across the sectors to the Detonation Zone where the
Robots in the classroom are not a new
idea, and it’s true that projects involving
the creation of these multisystem creatures
can consume entire semesters in a
heartbeat. However, our experiences have
revealed to us that robotics projects and
challenges in the classroom just might be
one of the best ways to deliver meaningful
STEM instruction and address standards
while purposefully helping to develop a
more socially conscious student. We’re not
building toys; we’re designing and building
complex systems that serve an intended
purpose, a humanitarian purpose! And
best of all, a diverse range of students is
“getting it.” They see the interdisciplinary
connections of math, science, engineering,
and the value of effective communication
and strategy. They see the need and “role of
society in the development and use of the
technology,” and the “effects of technology
on the environment” as stated in STL 6 and
STL 5, respectively. In addition, students
quickly come to realize that personal
biases and differences are of no use in solving
the problem at hand; they must work
together. In order to invite the culture
shift that Dr. Flowers and others see as so
16 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
IED before “detonation.”
IED with separated “pin” and “base.”
ordnance can be safely disposed of without harm to local villages
or people. Each IED has a “pin” and a “base,” and separation
of these two components is equivalent to detonation.
Model villages in various locations must remain safe and
undisturbed by IEDs and robots. The entire class must work
together to develop a plan for safe and timely execution of
the mission. Each team is assigned a sector and is solely
responsible for building and operating its robot, but strong
communication and design collaboration between teams
is essential to mission success. Point values are assigned
for tasks, and scores are tabulated. A “perfect” score is the
ultimate goal for the class and can only be obtained through
appropriate use of all robots to safely remove all IEDs within
the prescribed time limits. Initial full challenge rules, along
with other pertinent files, may be found at: www.chiefdelphi.
Students document their design and process in an engineering
In addition to building and competing, the paired teams
of students document their design and process in an engineering
notebook, complete with sketches. As a reflective
exercise, they also must create a presentation that evaluates
their own design and process utilizing the Rubric
and Evaluation Criteria for Standards-Based Robotics
Competitions & Related Learning Experiences developed
by TSA through an NSF grant as part of the 2006 Robotics
Education Symposium (TSA, 2006). The details of the challenge
rules (specific makeup of robots, time constraint, etc.)
were altered slightly in the second semester to better engage
a slightly different group of students, but the essence of
the challenge remained the same, and these two important
metacognitive exercises provided for an enriched learning
experience in both semesters of the 2006-07 school year.
Reflections and Future Plans
Our class’s first semester attempt with this activity was
successful in the sense that our students grasped the big
picture. They realized that there was a true purpose to their
learning and a connection to the skills, knowledge, and hard
work involved. The notion that design skills and inventions
in general should be used to better the world in which we
live came through loud and clear. Their notebooks showed
purpose and genuine desire to think outside the box to collectively
solve a unique problem. However, this first class
was not able to successfully remove all of the IEDs to the
Detonation Zone before the semester ended. Video of the
fall 2006 inventions at work is available at http://video.
This first class did, however, set the bar for the next class of
spring students who took the course and attempted to surpass
their predecessors. In semester two, the decision was
17 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
Sample IED-removal robots.
made to share the designs from the previous class. If cooperation
and a better society are indeed end goals, as teachers
we needed to model those principles and resist the urge to
“hide” what had been done before and overcome our fears
of “copycat” designs. Some of the challenge rule changes we
made addressed that issue, and we also discovered the real
value in sharing the designs. There was a real-world learning
that took place, and students truly embraced design as an
iterative process. Just as STL 13 intended, students saw firsthand
how their designs and reflective practice helped them,
“develop the abilities to assess the impact of products and
systems” (ITEA, 2000/2002/2007). The access to previous
designs and the desire to “outdo” the previous class led to
dramatic improvements in just one semester of a brand-new
course. Video from the spring 2007 semester’s successful
mission is available at http://video.google.com/videoplay?do
The future of the IED Cleanup activity holds wonderful
possibilities. The Vex Robotics Design System provides
affordable solutions, and the platform has proven to be very
flexible and reusable in the classroom setting. As the next
group of students comes in to take on IED Cleanup, there
is no doubt that the bar will be raised even higher. We look
forward to adding to the challenge by integrating a higher
level of programming and autonomous operation and using
more sensors. Given our successes, we plan to incorporate
even more content related to the “cultural, social, economic,
and political effects of technology” to keep STL 4 at the forefront
(ITEA, 2000/2002/2007) along with increased sophistication
in robotic systems. We will also build upon the
STEM approach, continuing to emphasize the big picture.
Robotics with a social conscience has not only energized
our students with desire to improve our world, but it has
also begun to bring teachers from mathematics, science,
and even English to the technology education lab at Lower
Merion where true STEM integration is growing. We have
a long way to go, as the project and our robotics course are
still educational infants, but it’s certain that we are on our
way to using robots in the classroom to make a powerful
difference in the lives of our students while increasing their
technological literacy skills.
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. (2006).
DARPA grand challenge. Retrieved September 10, 2007,
Dixon, G. W., Ford, E. J., & Wilczynski, V. (2005). Table
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Technology. (January 2007). 2007 FIRST Robotics
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Flowers, W. C. (Oct. 2005). Developing future leaders.
Retrieved September 15, 2007, from http://mitworld.mit.
Innovation First, Inc. (2006). Vex Robotics Design System
inventors guide. Retrieved September 14, 2007, from
International Technology Education Association.
(2000/2002/2007). Standards for technological literacy:
Content for the study of technology. Retrieved September 10,
2007, from www.iteaconnect.org/TAA/PDFs/xstnd.pdf.
Pennsylvania Department of Education. (2002). Academic
standards for science and technology. Retrieved
September 12, 2007, from http://www.pde.state.pa.us/
18 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
Shachtman, N. (November 2005). The
Baghdad Bomb Squad. Wired Magazine,
13(11). Retrieved September 15,
2007, from www.wired.com/wired/
Technology Student Association (TSA).
(2006). 2006 robotics education symposium
curriculum framework. Retrieved
September 17, 2007, from http://www.
Mark Piotrowski has
taught technology education
for 12 years at the
high school level and
education at the graduate
level. He currently serves
as a regional president
of the Technology Education Association
of Pennsylvania. He recently received
the ITEA Teacher Excellence Award
for Pennsylvania. He can be reached at
Rich Kressly has been
a public educator for 14
years, currently serving
Lower Merion High
Education and English
departments while also
acting as an educational consultant for
Innovation First, Inc. He’s served FIRST
Robotics as a Regional Senior Mentor and
has also been part of the yearly international
robotics challenge design for FIRST’s
intermediate program. He has played
roles in designing robotics curriculum and
support materials at the local, state, and
national levels and has received Who’s
Who Among America’s Teachers honors
twice. He can be reached at kresslr@lmsd.
This is a refereed article.
19 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
Integrative STEM Education: Primer
By Mark Sanders
A series of circumstances
has once more created an
opportunity for technology
educators to develop and
implement new integrative
approaches to STEM education
championed by STEM education
reform doctrine over the past two
In the 1990s, the National Science Foundation (NSF)
began using “SMET” as shorthand for “science, mathematics,
engineering, and technology.” When an NSF
program officer complained that “SMET” sounded
too much like “smut,” the “STEM” acronym was born. As
recently as 2003, relatively few knew what it meant. Many
that year asked if the STEM Education graduate program I
was beginning to envision had something to do with stem
cell research. That was still very much the case in Fall 2005,
when we—the Technology Education Program faculty at
Virginia Tech—launched our STEM Education graduate
program. 1 But when Americans learned the world was flat
(Friedman, 2005), they quickly grew to believe China and
India were on course to bypass America in the global economy
by outSTEMming us. Funding began to flow toward all
things STEM, and STEMmania set in. Now, nearly everyone
seems somewhat familiar with the STEM acronym.
And yet, it remains a source of ambiguity. Technology educators
proudly lay claim to the T and E in STEM. But so, too,
do Career and Technical educators, who (in my home state,
at least) seem to have claimed the “E” as their own. Most,
even those in education, say “STEM” when they should be
saying “STEM education,” overlooking that STEM without
education is a reference to the fields in which scientists,
engineers, and mathematicians toil. Science, mathematics,
and technology teachers are STEM educators working in
STEM education. It’s an important distinction. In addition,
there is the common misconception that the “T” (for technology)
means computing, thereby distorting the intended
meaning of the STEM acronym. Suffice it to say, STEM is
often an ambiguous acronym, even to those who employ it.
The National Science Foundation knows what it means. For
nearly two decades, NSF has used STEM simply to refer
to the four separate and distinct fields we know as science,
technology, engineering, and/or mathematics. Yet, some
We added this as new graduate program at Virginia Tech,
complementing our Technology Education graduate program,
which we have no intention of relinquishing.
20 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
have suggested that STEM education implies interaction
among the stakeholders. It doesn’t. For a century, science,
technology, engineering, and mathematics education have
established and steadfastly defended their sovereign territories.
It will take a lot more than a four-letter word to bring
For those reasons, I am skeptical when I hear STEM education
used to imply something new and exciting in education.
Upon close inspection, those practices usually appear suspiciously
like the status quo educational practices that have
monopolized the landscape for a century. Pending evidence
to the contrary, I think of STEM education as a reference
to business as usual—the universal practice in American
schools of disconnected science, mathematics, and technology
education…a condition that many believe is no longer
serving America as well as it should/might.
Introducing…Integrative STEM Education
In Fall, 2007, we realized the acronym’s ambiguities were
inescapable, and thus retitled our new Graduate Program
“Integrative STEM Education.” That was important to us
because, from the onset, we intended the program to focus
squarely upon new integrative approaches to STEM education
and to investigate those new integrative approaches
(Sanders, 2006; Sanders & Wells, 2005). 2 Our notion of integrative
STEM education includes approaches that explore
teaching and learning between/among any two or more of
the STEM subject areas, and/or between a STEM subject
and one or more other school subjects. Just as technological
endeavor, for example, cannot be separated from social and
aesthetic contexts, neither should the study of technology be
disconnected from the study of the social studies, arts, and
humanities. Our Integrative STEM Education graduate program
encourages and prepares STEM educators, administrators,
and elementary educators to explore and implement
integrative alternatives to traditional, disconnected STEM
From the onset in 2005, Virginia Tech’s Integrative STEM Education
Graduate Program has offered the MAED, EdS, EdD, and
PhD degree options. In Fall 2008, we added a 12 semester-hour
Integrative STEM Education Graduate Certificate Program. All of
the Integrative STEM Education coursework was newly conceptualized
and developed explicitly for these new degree options, and
is available online. Programs in other universities will, increasingly,
carry the “STEM Education” moniker. But to date, we are aware of
no other programs—graduate or undergraduate—that focus specifically
upon integrative approaches to STEM education.
A pedagogy we refer to as “purposeful design and inquiry”
(PD&I) is a seminal component of integrative STEM education.
PD&I pedagogy purposefully combines technological
design with scientific inquiry, engaging students or teams
of students in scientific inquiry situated in the context of
technological problem-solving—a robust learning environment.
Over the past two decades of educational reform,
technology education has focused on technological design,
while science education has focused on inquiry. Following
the PD&I approach, students envisioning and developing
solutions to a design challenge might, for example, wish
to test their ideas about various materials and designs, or
the impact of external factors (e.g., air, water, temperature,
friction, etc.) upon those materials and designs. In that
way, authentic inquiry is embedded in the design challenge.
This is problem-based learning that purposefully situates
scientific inquiry and the application of mathematics in the
context of technological designing/problem solving. Inquiry
of that sort rarely occurs in a technology education lab, and
technological design rarely occurs in the science classroom.
But in the world outside of schools, design and scientific
inquiry are routinely employed concurrently in the engineering
of solutions to real-world problems.
Many technology teachers are fond of saying they teach
science and math in their technology education programs.
In truth, it is exceedingly rare for a technology teacher to
explicitly identify a specific science or mathematics concept
or process as a desired learning outcome and even rarer
for technology teachers to assess a science or mathematics
learning outcome. Technology education students might
very well do some arithmetic or recognize a scientific principle
at play en route to completing a design challenge, but
those design challenges are almost never conceived to purposefully
teach a desired science or mathematics learning
outcome. Thought of in this way, the notion of “purposeful
design and inquiry” represents a new frontier in education—
a frontier toward which integrative STEM education
research and practice are targeted.
Integrative STEM education is not intended as a new standalone
subject area in the schools accompanied by new
“integrative STEM education” licensure regulations, as some
might suspect. Given the amount of content knowledge necessary
to be an effective science, mathematics, or technology
educator, it’s very difficult to imagine a new teaching/
licensure program that would prepare individual pre- and/
or in-service teachers with sufficient science, mathematics,
and technology content expertise—and the pedagogical
content knowledge—to teach all three bodies of knowledge
21 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
Rather, Virginia Tech’s Integrative STEM Education graduate
program offers a new body of knowledge for current and
preservice STEM educators, introducing them to the foundations,
pedagogies, curriculum, research, and contemporary
issues of each of the STEM education disciplines, and
to new integrative ideas, approaches, instructional materials,
and curriculum. In doing so, the program prepares/enables
them to better understand and integrate complementary
content and process from STEM disciplines other than their
own. Integrative STEM education is implemented in various
ways. In some cases, STEM educators implement integrative
approaches within their own STEM courses/facilities. In
some cases, STEM educators begin working together across
their disciplines in pairs or teams. In some cases, school
divisions are beginning to think about systemic changes to
STEM education that incorporate integrative approaches to
Two progressive school divisions in Virginia—Arlington
County and Loudoun County public schools—have (combined)
enrolled more than 20 high school teachers and
administrators in our online Integrative STEM Education
courses/certificate program this semester, to assist them in
transforming the culture of STEM education in their school
divisions. In this way, our integrative STEM education
courses represent a robust professional development opportunity,
wholly consistent with a new body of research that
concludes professional development is most effective when
site-based and sustained over an extended period of time.
In effect, our courses engage STEM educators in reflecting
upon integrative practice continuously from one semester
to the next. Moreover, they introduce STEM educators to
one another across disciplines through course assignments
that require cross-discipline collaboration. Several or more
semesters working with STEM educators beyond one’s own
discipline is a powerful means of facilitating new integrative
alliances and approaches, and for developing understanding
of other STEM education cultures. STEM administrators
and elementary educators are also enrolling in our online
courses/programs. This is exciting to us because elementary
grades offer unique opportunities for integrative approaches
to STEM education and are absolutely the place to begin
these integrative approaches. If America hopes to effectively
address the “STEM pipeline” problem, we must find ways of
developing young learners’ interest in STEM education and
must sustain that interest throughout their remaining school
years. Therein lies the real potential and promise of integrative
Why Integrative STEM Education?
Conventional STEM Education Leaves too Many
The fact that each of the four STEM education communities
has engaged in massive and ongoing educational reform
efforts over the past 20 years (e.g., AAAS, 1989, 1993; ABET,
2000; ITEA, 1996, 2000; NCTM 1989, 2000; NRC, 1996) is
convincing evidence of the serious STEM education challenges
to be addressed. The STEM education establishment
has long believed STEM education hasn’t been working as
well as it should, and has been toiling steadfastly to make
improvements. But instead of praising their successes,
public concern has escalated. In recent years, the “STEM
pipeline” problem—the decrease in the number of students
pursuing STEM fields, particularly those from historically
underrepresented populations—has been widely publicized.
Much of the attention has focused on addressing the shortage
of qualified science and mathematics teachers, a problem
the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) has targeted. The
NCLB legislation has resulted in increased attention to science
and mathematics teacher education, alternative routes
to licensure, and new avenues for attaining “highly qualified”
Less attention has been paid to the infrastructure and pedagogy
of conventional STEM education. Integrative STEM
education challenges the assumption that more STEM
educators prepared in conventional ways to teach in conventional
settings is the best way to approach the problems
of STEM education. Too many students lose interest in
science and mathematics at an early age, and thus make an
early exit from the so-called “STEM pipeline.” Conventional
approaches to science and mathematics education have,
in fact, prepared some students to be as capable in science
and mathematics as any in the world. But, at the same time,
there is widespread concern regarding the large percentage
of students who opt out of “rigorous” science and mathematics
middle and high school courses, and for the many
students who graduate high school with relatively low science
and/or mathematics ability.
There is sufficient evidence with regard to achievement,
interest, and motivation benefits associated with new integrative
STEM instructional approaches to warrant further
implementation and investigation of those new approaches.
Seasoned educators understand the importance of interest
and motivation to learning, constructs validated by the findings
of cognitive scientists over the past three decades. It
follows, therefore, that integrative STEM instruction, implemented
throughout the P-12 curriculum, has potential for
22 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
greatly increasing the percentage of students who become
interested in STEM subjects and STEM fields. There is a distinct
possibility that “STEM literacy for all” may pay greater
dividends in the long run than “STEM preparedness for college
Exemplar of STEM Education Reform
The implementation of new integrative STEM education
approaches is a logical extension of the past two decades
of STEM education reform efforts. The central theme
of Science for All Americans (AAAS, 1989), which was
designed to guide educational reform through 2061, is the
critical importance of addressing the inherent connections
among science, mathematics, and technology. Benchmarks
for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993) rewrote those ideas in
terms that provide the fundamental rationale for integrative
STEM education: “The basic point is that the ideas
and practice of science, mathematics, and technology are so
closely intertwined that we do not see how education in any
one of them can be undertaken well in isolation from the
others” [italics added]. These ideas led to the “Science and
Technology” standard in the National Science Education
Standards (NRC, 1996), which very clearly stipulates that
“technological design” be taught in the science curriculum
throughout grades K-12 as a way of acquiring “abilities of
technological design.” Some, including me, might challenge
the idea of technology as science, but there can be no doubt
that the ideals underlying science education reform promote
integrative STEM education.
Standards for Technological Literacy.
Similarly, the technology education community has,
throughout its history, promoted curricular connections
with science and mathematics education. These “TSM
connections” became a primary focus for technology
educators in the 1990s (e.g., LaPorte & Sanders, 1995;
Sanders & Binderup, 2000), and manifested in Standard
#3 of Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the
Study of Technology (ITEA, 2000/2002/2007), which reads:
“Students will develop an understanding of the relationships
among technologies and the connections between technology
and other fields of study,” with subtext that focuses specifically
upon connections with science and mathematics.
The flavor of integrative STEM education resonates in several
of the engineering accreditation standards that grew out
of the engineering education reform efforts: “(a) an ability
to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering,
(b) an ability to design and conduct experiments, as
well as to analyze and interpret data, and (d) an ability to
function on multidisciplinary teams” (ABET, 2000). The
national mathematics standards—Principles and Standards
for School Mathematics (NCTM, 2000)—aren’t as explicit
with regard to “integrative” approaches as are science, technology,
and engineering education, but language throughout
the mathematics standards encourages the teaching
and learning of mathematics in the context of real-world
problems. Looking beyond STEM education reform, the
“Science, Technology, and Society” standard in the national
social studies standards also very clearly supports connections
with both science and technology education (NCSS,
Grounded in the Findings of the Learning Sciences
Integrative STEM education is grounded in the tenets of
constructivism and the findings of three decades of cognitive
science. Bruning, Schraw, Norby, and Ronning (2004)
identified the following set of cognitive themes that resonate
with integrative STEM education:
• Learning is a constructive, not a receptive, process.
• Motivation and beliefs are integral to cognition.
• Social interaction is fundamental to cognitive
• Knowledge, strategies, and expertise are contextual.
In accordance with these cognitive themes growing from the
learning sciences, integrative STEM (e.g., PD&I) activities
are exemplars of constructivist practice in education. They
provide a context and framework for organizing abstract
understandings of science and mathematics and encourage
students to actively construct contextualized knowledge
of science and mathematics, thereby promoting recall and
learning transfer. Integrative STEM education pedagogy
23 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
is inherently learner-centered and knowledge-centered
(Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000), and when used with
groups of learners, provides a remarkably robust environment
for the social interaction so critical to the learning
Moreover, there is growing evidence that integrative
instruction enhances learning. Hartzler (2000) conducted
a meta-analysis across 30 individual studies of the effects
of integrated instruction on student achievement. Her
conclusions included: (1) students in integrated curricular
programs consistently outperformed students in traditional
classes on national standardized tests, in state-wide testing
programs, and on program-developed assessments, and (2)
integrated curricular programs were successful for teaching
science and mathematics across all grade levels and
were especially beneficial for students with below-average
achievement levels. Similarly, studies of science and/or
mathematics taught in the context of design have been
shown to improve achievement, interest, motivation, and
Consistent with Technology Education’s General
The ideology of the field now called technology education
has always been grounded in general education (Bonser &
Mossman, 1923; ITEA, 1996, 2000; Richards, 1904; Savage &
Sterry, 1990; Warner, et al., 1947; Wilber, 1948; Woodward,
1890). Interest in curricular connections with science, mathematics,
and engineering dates to the 1870s, when Calvin
Woodward—a mathematics professor—began employing
manual training methods with mathematics and engineering
students. The field’s mantra—“technological literacy for
all”—clearly reflects its general education philosophy. For
these reasons, integrative STEM education, which promotes
learning through connections among science, mathematics,
technology education, and other general education subjects,
is wholly consistent with the ideology of the profession.
The Zeitgeist is Right for Integrative STEM Education
Half a century ago, the launch of Sputnik precipitated major
educational reform across all of education. Maley (1959)
recognized the opportunity for the profession to be more
It is at this point as never before in the history of education
that industrial arts can enter into its own with one
of its true values recognized. Where else in the school is
there the possibility for the interaction and application
of mathematical, scientific, creative, and manipulative
abilities of youngsters to be applied in an atmosphere of
references, resources, materials, tools, and equipment so
closely resembling society outside the school?
Maley responded to the opportunity by developing his
“Research and Experimentation” course, which situated
mathematics and science in the context of technological
activity, while most of the field then, as now, focused their
energies on redefining itself as a stand-alone discipline, in
relative isolation from the rest of education (Herschbach,
Here we are again. A series of circumstances have once
more created an opportunity for technology educators
to develop and implement new integrative approaches to
STEM education championed by STEM education reform
doctrine over the past two decades. Is this opportunity
somehow different from the previous opportunities? Is there
any reason to believe integrative STEM education practices
might emerge in the decades ahead?
Absolutely. First, “technological literacy for all” has begun
to resonate widely throughout STEM education. Science
education is looking for ways to address their “Science and
Technology” standard. In 2009, the National Assessment
of Educational Progress (NAEP) will begin to assess technological
literacy across the U.S. for the first time. The
24 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
National Academy of Engineering (NAE) thought enough of
the Standards for Technological Literacy content standards
to endorse them enthusiastically in the Foreword: “…ITEA
has successfully distilled an essential core of knowledge and
skills we might wish all K-12 students to acquire.” Moreover,
NAE produced “Technically Speaking: Why All Americans
Need to Know More about Technology (Pearson & Young,
2002) and conducted a two-year study that culminated
in the publication of Tech Tally: Approaches to Assessing
Technological Literacy (NAE, 2006). Four years ago, after
111 years of operating, the American Society of Engineering
Education established a new K-12 Engineering Division,
which passed a resolution two years ago expressing its interest
in collaborating with the technology education community
in K-12 education.
But far more powerful than these “shared interests” among
the STEM education fields is the rapidly emerging awareness
in America that technology is not just a ubiquitous
component of contemporary culture, but also one of the
critical keys to global competitiveness. The publication
The World is Flat (Friedman, 2005) convinced Americans
that the U.S. is losing ground to China and India in the
global economy. Friedman pointed squarely at the roles
that STEM and STEM education play in the global competition
for wealth and power. Corporate America heard
the message, and political machinery began to grind. The
National Science Board’s October 2007 report—A National
Action Plan for Addressing the Critical Needs of the Science,
Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education System
references “STEM” 20 times as often as it references “science
and mathematics” (or “mathematics and science”). Similarly
the “America Competes Act” focuses attention on the T
and E in STEM, as suggested by its formal title: “America
Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence
in Technology, Education, and Science Act.” In 2007, the
National Governor’s Association targeted STEM education
for funding. And so on and so forth.
Amidst the realization that the T and E will play a critical
role with regard to our welfare in the twenty-first century,
the call for support has shifted from “science and mathematics”
to “STEM and STEM education.” That’s what is different
about the twenty-first century, and that is why integrative
STEM education is more compelling today than in decades
Relevance to 21st Century Education
Technology education is nonexistent in the K-5 curriculum.
The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES, 2008)
reports that the average 2005 high school graduate earned
only 0.08 technology education credits in high school
(compared to 3.67 in mathematics and 3.34 in science). The
National Academy of Engineering’s Report, Technically
Speaking, recommended that federal and state educational
policymakers “encourage the integration of technology content…
in non-technology subject areas” [italics added]. The
“Science and Technology” standard of the National Science
Education Standards (NRC, 1996) promotes the teaching of
technological design in science class from Grades K-12.
Technology education’s future in American education will
depend upon its ability to demonstrate relevance to the
school curriculum. I believe “technological literacy” will
find a home in the twenty-first century school curriculum.
The question is: What role will technology education play
with regard to “technological literacy for all”? Some believe
pre-engineering courses have a bright future in the K-12
curriculum. It’s more likely that pre-engineering courses will
be perceived as too “vocational” for Grades K-10. Moreover,
pre-engineering courses in Grades 11 and 12 add relatively
little to American education, simply because most of those
enrolling in such courses have already chosen the engineering
In contrast, “technological literacy” delivered through integrative
STEM education offer enormous potential for all
students throughout K-12 education. In addition to addressing
the “technological literacy for all” challenge, it has the
potential to motivate young learners with regard to the
STEM subjects as never before and the potential to maintain
their interest in STEM subjects throughout the middle and
high school years. If so, integrative STEM education would
add enormously to American education, culture, and global
competitiveness. Technology education has a key role to
play in integrative STEM education, and could play a significant
role in twenty-first century American education if it
can demonstrate relevance in this way.
ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission. (2004).
ABET criteria for accrediting engineering programs.
Baltimore, MD: ABET, Inc. Author.
American Association for the Advancement of Science.
(1993). Benchmarks for science literacy, Project 2061.
Washington, DC: Author.
American Association for the Advancement of Science.
(1989). Science for all Americans. Washington, DC:
Bonser, F. G. & Mossman, L. C. (1923). Industrial arts for
elementary schools. New York: Macmillan.
Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.).
(2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and
school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
25 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
Bruning, R. H., Schraw, J. G., Norby, M. M., & Ronning,
R. R. (2004). Cognitive psychology and instruction.
Columbus, OH: Pearson.
Friedman (2005). The world is flat. A brief history of the
twenty-first century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Garmire, E. & Pearson, G. (Eds.). 2006. Tech tally:
Approaches to assessing technological literacy.
Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Hartzler, D. S. (2000). A meta-analysis of studies conducted
on integrated curriculum programs and their effects on
student achievement. Doctoral dissertation. Indiana
Herschbach, D. R. (1996). What is past is prologue:
Industrial arts and technology education. Journal of
Technology Studies, 22(1). 28-39.
International Technology Education Association.
(2000/2002/2007). Standards for technological literacy:
Content for the study of technology. Reston, VA: Author.
International Technology Education Association. (1996).
Technology for all Americans: A rationale and structure
for the study of technology. Reston, VA: Author.
LaPorte, J. & Sanders, M. (1995). Technology, science, mathematics
integration. In E. Martin (Ed.), Foundations
of technology education: Yearbook #44 of the council
on technology teacher education. Peoria, IL: Glencoe/
Maley, D. (1959). Research and experimentation in the
junior high school. The Industrial Arts Teacher, 18, pp.
12-16. Reprinted in Lee, R. and Smalley, L. H. (1963).
Selected Readings in Industrial Arts. Bloomington, IL:
McKnight & McKnight, 258-266.
National Center for Educational Statistics. (2008). Career
and technical education in the United States: 1990 to
2005. Retrieved September 23, 2008, from nces.ed.gov/
National Council for the Social Studies. (1994). Expectations
of excellence: Curriculum standards for social studies
teachers. Silver Spring, Maryland: Author.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2000).
Principles and standards for school mathematics. Reston,
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (1989).
Curriculum and evaluation standards for school mathematics.
Reston, VA: Author.
National Research Council. (1994). National science education
standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Pearson, G. & Young, A. T. (Eds.). (2002). Technically speaking:
Why all Americans need to know more about technology.
Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Richards, C. (1904, October). A new name. Manual Training
Magazine, 6(1), 32-33.
Sanders, M. (2006, November). A rationale for new
approaches to STEM education and STEM education
graduate programs. Paper presented at the 93rd
Mississippi Valley Technology Teacher Education
Conference, Nashville, TN.
Sanders, M. & Wells, J. (2005, September 15). STEM graduate
education/research collaboratory. Paper presented
to the Virginia Tech faculty, Virginia Tech.
Sanders, M. E. & Binderup, K. (2000). Integrating technology
education across the curriculum. A monograph. Reston,
VA: International Technology Education Association.
Savage, E. & Sterry, L. (Eds.). (1990). A conceptual framework
for technology education. Reston, VA: International
Technology Education Association.
Warner, W. E., Gary, J. E., Gerbracht, C. J., Gilbert, H. G.,
Lisack, J. P, Kleintjes, P. L., & Phillips, K. (1947, 1965).
A curriculum to reflect technology. Reprint of a paper
presented at the annual conference of the American
Industrial Arts Association (1947). Epsilon Pi Tau.
Wilber, G. O. (1948). Industrial arts in general education.
Scranton, PA: International Textbook Company.
Woodward, C. M. (1890). Manual training in education.
New York: Scribner & Welford.
Mark Sanders is Professor and Program
Leader, Technology Education, at Virginia
Polytechnic Institute and State University,
Blacksburg, VA. He can be reached via
email at email@example.com.
26 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
Model Program: Southern Lehigh
High School, Center Valley, PA
Submitted by Richard Colelli
Testing a tower.
It is a true honor to be recommended to author a Model
Program article for The Technology Teacher. Our
school district is presently providing an educational
program known for its excellence and forward-looking
perspective, which is sensitive to the changing needs of our
students. The community, faculty, parents, and students
have joined together in striving to maintain and enhance
that excellence. Our students have access to a plethora of
technologies throughout the district. Students have access
to wireless Internet, teacher and student laptops, and in
the near future, all students will have a personal laptop for
their academic learning. Students and teachers have access
to video streaming and Internet II, which has a variety of
curriculum-enhancing software programs. Within our
technology education curriculum, students have a variety
of interactive CAD software programs, and computernumerical-controlled
equipment, as well as desktop rapid
prototyping equipment, robotic programming software
with Mindstorm Robotic activities, pneumatics, hydraulics,
electronic activities, and desktop publishing. We also
provide two extracurricular clubs, the Technology Student
Association (TSA) and the FIRST organization (robotics).
A few years ago our high school experienced a $23 million
renovation, which included new technology education
laboratories. The new labs, along with new equipment and
software purchases, have enabled our students to achieve a
greater number of state and national science and technology
27 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
The Technology Education Department at Southern
Lehigh High School believes that the study of technology
must place emphasis on developing the student’s ability
to discover, experience, share, and use knowledge rather
than simply retain it. Experiences in technology education
courses encourage our students to be responsible for
creating, monitoring, and evaluating their learning
processes. The teachers use differentiated instruction
techniques throughout the learning process. We
incorporate learning strategies that extend past structured
time periods and free students to inquire and create, as
stated by science and technology standards. Our courses
emphasize social interaction and teamwork. Students who
study technology learn about the technological world that
inventors, engineers, and other innovators have created.
Because technology changes quickly, we believe that our
department’s teachers should spend less time on specific
details and more on concepts and principles. The goal is to
produce students with a more conceptual understanding of
technology and its place in society, students who can then
grasp and evaluate new bits of technology that they might
never have seen before.
I arrived at Southern Lehigh High School in 1999 and
found the quality and competence of my fellow technology
education faculty members at the highest level. We
joked with one another other about who had received a
better undergraduate education. My former colleague,
ARCH model homes.
Travis Lehman, graduated from Millersville University of
Pennsylvania, and I graduated from California University
of Pennsylvania. I mention Travis because he helped to
establish our quality technology education program at
Southern Lehigh High School. His replacement, Rob
Gaugler, also received his undergraduate degree from
Millersville University and his master’s degree from Ball
State University, and now takes the brunt of my jokes. It
is a “Pennsylvania thing.” Rob has brought a huge shot
in the arm of enthusiasm to our students within the
Technology Education Department through innovative
projects and activities. I received my master’s degree
from North Carolina A&T State University, and then
completed all supervisory certification course work from
Millersville University. This November the National Board
of Professional Teachers will notify me of my attainment of
National Board Certification. Starting the spring semester
of 2009, I will begin my Educational Specialist degree,
majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics) education through Virginia Tech.
During the 2005-2006 school year, we were informed that
our technology education department had been selected
as the Pennsylvania outstanding program of the year. The
application process was a bit grueling but well worth it. It
enabled me to evaluate the technology education program
from top to bottom and make changes to the curriculum.
It has brought us in line with most of the technology
and STEM standards. This award is also a feather in the
cap of our school district. Without the support of our
administrators and a school board member writing letters
of recommendation in support of our department,
this honor may not have been possible. Receiving this
award at the national ITEA conference, in front of my
peers in Baltimore, Maryland, was a memory I will not
Professional Conferences and Curriculum
Yearly, the technology education faculty attend professional
conferences that are directly associated with our curriculum.
The Technology Education Association of Pennsylvania
holds its annual conference in Camp Hill, PA. The TEAP
conference provides the opportunity to network with
teachers, professors, vendors, leaders from the Department
of Education, and other individuals about the exciting
instruction taking place within their school districts, which
are outside of our little bubble that we call Southern Lehigh.
Attending this conference also enables teachers to attend the
special interest sessions, which are very informative. Some
of these topics discuss strategies to implement exciting
activities in our curriculum. They also provide teachers with
28 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
a wealth of information that can be very useful in
During the summer of 2007, the high school technology
education faculty attended the Carnegie Mellon University
Robotics Academy in Pittsburgh. The robotics conference
was held at the Butler County Community College in
Butler, PA. The conference consortium, better known as
the Western Pennsylvania Robotics Corridor, consists
of Carnegie Mellon University, California University of
Pennsylvania, and Westmoreland, Beaver, Butler, and
Fayette County community colleges. The robotic conference
consisted of learning how to construct the Lego®
Mindstorms® robot and comprehend the software and
curriculum that would enable us to teach our students to
program the robot and to develop the necessary tools that
make it easier to implement the robotics curriculum into
our classrooms. The curriculum is researched-based, aligns
with STEM standards, and focuses on the development of
twenty-first century skill sets in students.
The purpose of our attendance at this conference was
two-fold. First, our district’s school board provides
opportunities for teachers, at all levels, to complete a
minigrant application process, which is intended to
financially supplement a department’s curriculum budget.
We have been very successful in recent years in purchasing
standards-based equipment and software that parallels
the science and technology standards and is STEM-based.
The district awarded us a $10,000 grant for the purchase
of the Lego® Mindstorms® robotic kits and software. We
introduced this activity into our required Foundations of
Technology I semester course during the 2007-2008 school
year. Secondly, we were able to network with professors
from CMU, California University of Pennsylvania,
professionals from the Pittsburgh Robotics Institute, and
many teachers from around the country who attended.
Sharing ideas with these professionals has resulted in
additional robotic activities for our students that were not
embedded in the Mindstorms® curriculum.
Our ninth grade students became very excited when we
introduced the robotic kits at the beginning of the school
year. The programming software is user-friendly, which
helps our students adapt and become successful in this
class. We invited our administration to view our students
in action as they programmed and ran their robots. They
were very pleased that the minigrant was successful and
Robotic Mindstorms® 2.
29 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
that the students were attaining additional science and
technology standards that were previously not being met
by our students. Through this project, the students have the
opportunity to comprehend and understand responsibilities
of a robotic programmer and engineer. They are able to roleplay
activities of these careers.
Using our department budget, the second tier of robots and
the more in-depth robotic programming software has been
purchased and implemented into our engineering course
curriculum. This type of robot is called a VEX Robot. The
VEX Robotic Design System contains everything the teacher
and our students needed to design a robot. The FIRST
Robotics Competition, “the world’s leading high school
robotics program,” inspired the system. “The curriculum
is designed to encourage students and teachers to explore
the exciting world of robotics by bringing real-world
experience and hands-on learning to STEM teaching and
lessons.” The VEX robot gives our students a fun way to
learn about STEM courses. Our students work together to
create robots that perform exciting challenges that require
problem solving, higher-order thinking skills, and acceptable
social skills. According to Paul Mailhot, senior director of
worldwide education programs for Autodesk, “Robotics is
an integrated and exciting way to teach and learn STEM. It
is unique in this respect, and educational robotics is having a
significant positive impact in STEM around the world.”
The Lego® Mindstorms® Robotic activities, coupled with
the VEX Robotic activities, help our students understand
and comprehend technical information that will assist
them in accomplishing the goals of one of our two exciting
extracurricular organizations. Rob is the advisor of the
FIRST organization at Southern Lehigh High School. The
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and
Technology) organization’s mission is “to inspire young
people to be science and technology leaders by engaging
them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science,
engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation,
and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including selfconfidence,
communication, and leadership”.
One of the goals of FIRST is to actively secure corporate
financial sponsorship that will help offset the financing of
the local FIRST chapter. We have received tremendous
financial support from local businesses and larger
corporations within our school district as well as
outside of our district. Our superintendent, high school
administration, and our school board have been very
supportive of the FIRST organization. Another goal of
FIRST is to involve parents and also successful professionals
from industry to help and teach our student members
engineering techniques and problem-solving skills—vital
in the world’s global business and industrial economy and
requiring skills associated with mathematics, engineering,
FIRST Robotics group.
30 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
CNC milling of F1 dragster.
production, and marketing careers. Our FIRST organization
competes annually in a number of tournaments including
the regional competition at Drexel University. Our students,
advisor, and parents have been very successful competing,
and our school district and community have been proud
We received a second minigrant for use during the 2007-
2008 school year, in the amount of $16,000. The intent of
this grant was for the purchase of a Denford Compact 1000
computer-numerical-controlled (CNC) milling machine.
The reason behind the purchase of this piece of equipment
was to update our present manufacturing processes. We
had purchased two Roland Modela machines, capable of
handling small job-lot production, a few years ago. Our
students have gained many design standards through the
designing, programming, and operation of this equipment.
An additional reason to purchase the new equipment was
to eliminate possible safety concerns we might encounter in
the future and to give our students the experience of roleplaying
industrial programming machinists. The equipment
will also let our students design and produce more intricate
products. The skills and knowledge attained will help our
students become technologically literate.
The students love to race the CO 2
dragsters and the Formula
One dragsters that incorporate many design standards.
In years past, our students would print out a CAD design,
cut it out, and tape it onto their balsa or basswood model
block. Then, after thorough safety instructions, the students
would cut out their dragsters using the traditional band saw
and drill press. There is always a possibility for a student
injuring himself/herself operating the equipment. The
minigrant purchase enables us to eliminate the possibility
of student injury because the work piece being processed
is self-contained within the milling machine. Also, the
Technology Student Association, for which I am the local
chapter advisor, and their partnership sponsors designed a
competitive event in which students are encouraged to learn
CNC programming and computer-aided drafting in the
design phase of the competition.
From a design and manufacturing perspective, students
use CAD (computer-aided design) software to create virtual
3-D models of their cars and translate their designs into
reality by means of CNC milling machines.
• Team organization is critical to the project. Teams
must have a minimum of three to a maximum of six
members who fill the following roles: team manager,
resources manager, manufacturing engineer, design
engineer, and graphic designer.
• Teams must also promote their cars through a
variety of marketing efforts, such as procuring
sponsors (if possible); developing sponsorship decals
and a consistent color scheme; and producing a design
folder with initial design ideas, design development
information, testing evidence, and graphical
The minigrant process, in previous years, helped our
department update our drafting and design courses by
purchasing professional 2-D and 3-D CADD software that
has been implemented into our Introduction to Drafting &
Design class and also our Architectural Drafting & Design
course. Our TSA students have competed at our regional,
state, and national conferences utilizing these programs.
They have done very well in the TSA CADD events, and
31 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
our students are achieving many Pennsylvania and national
science and technology design standards. The students
are learning that their completed CADD renderings are
used for industrial purposes other than to communicate
the shape description of products. They are now learning
to import their CADD geometry into a different software
program, which in turn changes their CADD geometry into
a stereolithography-coded file for milling purposes. The
students are now learning new processes and realizing how
their favorite games are produced. Again, design standards
and technological literacy are being achieved as a result of
the minigrant committee’s selection of our proposals.
It is a very good feeling when one or all three of our
guidance counselors ask if they can enroll one or more
additional students into our classes. Normally, the request
is for Advanced Placement students whose post-secondary
goal is to major in an engineering field or another area
closely associated with technology. The counselors at
Southern Lehigh High School have been very supportive
of our elective classes because they understand the impact
that we provide our students through our courses and our
extracurricular organizations. The benefits to the students
are numerous, and the real-world applications that they
are experiencing cannot be found in many other academic
disciplines at Southern Lehigh. The entire school has a
reputation for academic excellence, but our department goes
beyond the normal lecturing and laboratory experiments
and projects. Students taking courses in our department
are given opportunities to put the skills they have attained
into real-world applications in various competitive events
through our Technology Student Association and our FIRST
organization. The counselors also know that the general
education students and the special education students can
benefit greatly by enrolling in our courses as well.
Across the hall from my CADD lab is an Inclusive
Partial Hospitalization classroom full of 20 students
with psychological issues pertaining to their social and
educational skill levels. Our Intermediate Unit houses these
children in our school. Every year, I voluntarily give up my
preparation period for about three weeks, take a handful of
these kids into my classroom, and give them the opportunity
to become technologically literate as it pertains to CADD
activities and also small job-lot rapid prototyping projects.
These students have behavior issues that they are dealing
with, but I believe that they should also be given every
chance to experience an education that is afforded to all of
our students at Southern Lehigh. Our technology education
department has established an outstanding reputation for
excellence. The guidance department, the high school in
general, and the entire school district community realize
that we are providing a quality education for our students.
All of our courses are at maximum capacity, yet on a daily
basis more students are trying to change their elective
courses and asking to enroll in our courses.
One of our goals is to make education fun. I believe that we
are accomplishing this goal. Often the students are enjoying
our classes and do not even realize that they are learning.
I do not think that I would enjoy teaching as much as I do
if I were teaching a different discipline. Word of mouth,
monthly principal’s newsletters, district-wide newsletters,
and local newspapers are sources that provide information
about our department’s activities. And now, through The
Technology Teacher, teachers across the nation can learn
about our technology education program. I am very proud
of our department. More information about our department
can be found by visiting our two teacher-produced websites
at www.slsd.org/webpages/rcolelli/ and www.slsd.org/
32 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
The Speeding Car Design
By Harry T. Roman
Use the real world to stimulate and
promote problem solving in your
How can police stop speeding cars without high-speed chases?
All too often, we read about high-speed police chases in
pursuit of stolen cars that result in death and injury to
people and innocent bystanders. Isn’t there another
way to accomplish the apprehension of the thieves
that does not put people at such great risk?
That is exactly what this design challenge is about: using
technology to remotely shut down speeding cars so they
cannot generate high-speed chases in the first place, and
also to allow police to capture them.
Understanding the Problem
Thieves who steal cars want to get away as quickly as
possible, but in that escape process they become detected,
and a police chase ensues. How might police be able to
disable the car without getting involved in a protracted
chase through city streets?
Certainly inventors have been thinking about this problem,
so a look at the technical literature and perhaps an Internet
patent search may be an appropriate way to start this design
challenge. What techniques do the inventors and companies
that might be involved seem to favor?
What first ideas might be generated by your students? Let’s
try a list to get the creativity flowing. We’ll assume the police
have a way to somehow “point at the car” or perhaps access
the car through a computer to:
• Shut off the electrical system to the engine.
• Interrupt the flow of fuel to the engine.
• Blow out the tires.
• Lock the wheels or brakes on the car.
This is pretty standard stuff when it comes to stopping
the car—very traditionally envisioned things based on
our rudimentary knowledge of how cars work. But how
33 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
Could an ignition key be made to
recognize valid drivers?
might they actually
accomplish this piece
magic? Can your
ideas and systems
that might make this
There have been
reports of devices
that, when fired at
a speeding car by
police, hit the car
and disable it. This
is a pretty dynamic
subject to misses and difficulties getting a clear line of sight
to a speeding vehicle in an urban environment. Are there
more subtle or sophisticated ways to foil a car theft . . .
maybe ones that use imagination, a little high tech, and
some computer-age software?
Envisioning a Solution
Sometimes it is helpful to envision how one can accomplish
a task if everything could be built into a product from
the beginning, with total control over the design process
achieved from the outset. Once this works, then retrofit
systems could be made for the population of products
already out there. The same is true for cars. How would your
students equip a car today with systems that prevent, thwart,
or minimize stolen car chases?
With a new car it is possible to make it very difficult to
steal the car in the first place. How do you make the car
smart enough to know someone is fooling around with it or
has stolen it? How about some sample ideas to jumpstart
• The driver wears or has on his person a microchip
recognized by the car, allowing him or her to drive it
• Locate all the ignition-related electrical wiring in a safe
enclosure inside the engine compartment and lock the
hood down, making access difficult to anyone other
than the owner.
• A car being stolen emits an ear-piercing sound inside
the vehicle, making it impossible for the thieves to
concentrate on driving it.
• The ignition key lock “looks” at the driver’s fingerprint
first to recognize him as a valid driver.
• Do away with the ignition key altogether—as it seems
to be the way many cars are stolen—by electrically
Let the class use some computer-related instincts or
knowledge to allow the car to make decisions based on what
it is experiencing with the person sitting in the driver’s seat.
If the driver does not have the above-described microchip
on his person, maybe the car does not even let him or her
into the car at all and takes measures to secure the car
from being entered or started. Encourage your students
to develop visual and written materials to share with each
other as they discuss and learn from each other.
Could some of these new car features also be packaged
into a retrofit format for add-on application to the huge
inventory of cars already out there? Use some out-of-thebox
thinking to come up with ways to accomplish this.
Perhaps some discussions with automotive experts that
you invite to the classroom can help with this . . . consider
representatives of the auto industry, automotive security
companies, car mechanics, and automotive engineers.
Shift gears now with this creative activity and return to the
earlier aspects of this problem. Can the police remotely
disable a car that has already been stolen, even the new hightech
one designed from the beginning to be theft-proof?
If you are doing high-tech building from the start, how
might you do this to new and retrofitted cars? Again, get
those creative juices
flowing, and you may
encounter some ideas
• As a stolen car
zooms by, it
emits a special
signal that can
by police cars.
The police send
signal that the
shuts its critical
systems off. . . .
the car stops.
• If a car is stolen, A stolen car could be disabled by polemounted
it contacts the
34 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
On-Star feature in the car and On-Star generates a
signal to shut down the car’s critical systems.
• Police have a laser gun they can point at a speeding car
that allows them to hit one of several targets on the car
that shut the car’s critical systems down.
These passive, high-tech solutions highlight the use of
computerized technology to defeat thieves rather than
chasing them through crowded streets or in high-speed
highway chases. A stolen car emitting the emergency
signal could be stopped by pole-mounted detectors along
streets, roads, or highways . . . and the shut-down frequency
automatically emitted to disable the car. The police car
does not even have to be nearby. It could be done without
police intervention. The roadside sensors could then notify
police after sealing the doors shut on the vehicle, leaving the
thieves inside to ponder their fate.
Some towns are experimenting with remote cameras and
gun-shot directional detectors to catch lawbreakers. The
automatic car disable technology we have been talking about
might be part of that futuristic network to protect citizens.
Your computer-savvy students no doubt will have some
interesting ideas about how to protect cars from being
stolen. Bring their creativity to bear on the problem. This is
a challenge that can easily be done singly or in teams. There
may be some technology now coming out on the market to
address these very concerns. Comb the literature and be on
Also, check into some military or Homeland Security
literature to see what kinds of systems are being discussed
or developed to thwart would-be terrorists. Perhaps some
adaptations of this technology could be applied to car theft.
This is a very real problem, just the kind engineers wrestle
with every day. Use the real world to stimulate and promote
problem solving in your classroom.
Harry T. Roman recently retired from his
engineering job and is the author of a variety
of new technology education books. He can
be reached via email at htroman49@aol.
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35 • The Technology Teacher • December/January 2009
State University of New York at Oswego
Department of Technology
The Department of Technology at the State University of New York at Oswego announces the opening of three tenure track positions. The
date of appointment for each is August 2009.
Associate Professor/Department Chair: The Chair reports to the Dean of the School of Education. This is a ten month senior faculty position.
Description of Responsibilities: As the department continues to expand its mission to establish new directions in curriculum and facilities
for the 21st century, the Chair must be a leader with vision and an interest in developing and implementing curricula that includes multicultural
issues and perspectives. Strengths in communicating, marketing and planning are essential. It is common to have other assignments
including teaching, student teaching supervision, and/or other administrative duties.
Assistant Professor of Technology Education
Description of Responsibilities: Teach undergraduate and graduate courses in Transportation Systems including: land, marine, air and space
Assistant Professor of Technology Education
Description of Responsibilities: Teach graduate courses in foundations of teaching, curriculum development, assessment, teaching methodology,
facilities planning, and emerging technologies
For complete information about the position and application procedures, visit our website at www.oswego.edu/vacancies.
Review Date: Review of application materials will begin January 12, 2009 and continue until the positions are filled.
Description of Department: The Department of Technology, organized within the School of Education, offers programs in Technology
Education and Technology Management. Ten full-time faculty deliver these programs to 300 undergraduate students, and 50 graduate students.
The School of Education Diversity Policy addresses the commitment to preparing students for multicultural and global communities.
Please visit our website at www.oswego.edu/tech before submitting your application.
SUNY Oswego is an Affirmative Action Employer
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