Engaging High School Students in an Engineering Thermodynamics Project
Keywords:Authentic tasks, Inquiry, Project, Formative assessment
Efforts for recruiting and retaining students in engineering programs are evident in many postsecondary institutions around the world. These efforts include outreach programs at both elementary and secondary school level, as well as projects that develop capacities beyond technical content—often taught as declarative and procedural knowledge. The mandate of the Galileo Education Network Association includes the design of rich learning environments engaging K – 12 students in authentic tasks: tasks that resemble the real work of professionals such as engineers. We describe the experience of enacting a seven-session engineering project in thermodynamics with Grade Ten students. Special attention is paid to formative assessment as an essential support for students' learning along the project. The initial project resulted from the collaboration—as a means for teacher professional development—between this network association and the mathematics and science teachers in a western Canadian high school. We propose that programs for teacher professional development in mathematics and science should include a focus on tasks that resemble the work of engineering in order to design authentic, engaging learning tasks, and assessing strategies that support and enhance student learning.
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