IEEE FWCS: Change The Way Science, Engineering & Technology Are Taught in the US

While we appreciate that readers are so interested in this topic,  if you have thoughts or comments on this information you are encouraged to share them with IEEE at  http://www.ieeeusa.org/policy/careerflyin/default.asp Thanks!

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From IEEE Florida West Coast Section :

… A bill will soon be introduced into Congress – the Engineering Education for the Innovation Economy Act, or E2 Education Act – that would help states add engineering to their basic science curriculums at the K-12 level. If passed, the bill would be a significant reform to our STEM education system. The bill will introduce all students to engineering and technology much earlier in their academic careers than we do currently. It will also encourage students to continue their science educations through high-school, a time when many American students abandon the hard sciences.

While the bill has support in Congress, it needs more. We need to explain to our elected officials exactly what the bill is and what it does. Most importantly, we need to convince Congress that this issue is important enough for them to focus on it.

To do this, IEEE-USA is inviting all IEEE members to come to Washington on February 8 and 9 to discuss the bill with your elected leaders. Full details are here: http://www.ieeeusa.org/policy/careerflyin/default.asp If you are interested in education reform, concerned about how America is educating our future engineers and technologists, or worried about the declining number of American students who are majoring in STEM fields, this is your opportunity to make a difference.

Please join IEEE-USA on February 8 and 9 to explain this problem, and this solution, with Congress. Register today!

Russell T. Harrison Senior Legislative Representative – Grassroots Affairs IEEE-USA (202) 530-8326 Thanks for your attention!

– Jim Anderson Chairman, IEEE Florida West Coast Section

Who Can Help?

Everyone! IEEE-USA needs all interested engineers (and families) to join us for this event. It doesn’t matter if you have never done this before, if you don’t know much about politics, or if you don’t know much about the legislative process. IEEE-USA staff will teach you. What is important is that you care about education reform and sincerely want to help fix our education system.

If that describes you – IEEE-USA wants you to join us.

The Engineering Education for the Innovation Economy Act

The E2 Education Act will help states add engineering to their K-12 science and math curriculums. As you know, engineering is currently not taught in most primary and secondary schools. The first real exposure most students get to this vital field is in college – if they major in engineering. The majority of students decide to abandon engineering years before they are even know the field exists when they decline to take advanced science and math classes in high-school.

How many skilled engineers have we failed to produce simply because students with the potential to be great engineers found out what engineering is too late to pursue it as a career?

The E2 Education Act would help states introduce engineering to students as regular parts of the science curriculum. The bill provides the states grant money to develop curriculums that introduce engineering and engineering concepts to students. The bill then provides further grants to implement those curriculums.

The E2 Bill isn’t just about engineering. Studies have shown that engineering is a great way to keep kids interested in science and math. Currently, most American students say they like science and math in elementary school, but most have lost their enthusiasm for the subjects by the time they reach high school. Engineering is a way to keep students interested in the sciences long enough for them to receive the basic education required to major in the sciences, should they wish to do so in college.

Engineering does this by being a great bridge between elementary and high school science. Engineering allows students to begin to learn advanced concepts in a playful way. Usually, the transition from elementary science education to high school science is abrupt and, for many students, traumatic. High school science is much more abstract than elementary school science. It involves memorizing lots of facts, formulas and tricky theories, without the fun of elementary science until after students have done the memorizing.

Engineering provides a nice middle ground between elementary and high school science. Engineering involves mathematical formulas and tricky concepts, but in a much more accessible way than physics or chemistry. Students can see how engineering works and can play with engineering concepts (by building robots, for example) without first needing to memorize abstract ideas. When it has been tried (which isn’t very often), engineering has proven to be a good way to help acclimate students to the rigors of real science, encouraging more students to stick with science and math through high school.

The E2 Bill will allow more states to add engineering to their public school curriculums, helping students to improve in all the science and math fields in the process.

Read the complete bill here: http://www.sconyc-ny.org/WebPages/Fulle2.html and find engineering education research at http://www.asee.org/conferences/annual/2007/upload/AC2007-1106_000.pdf (PDF report)

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4 responses

  1. Like many other STEM efforts, I am for the concept in general, but it is not S and M, it is STEM. The T and E are, or should be, represented by Engineering and Technology Education, which is taught (although not necessarily named that) in every state. You are missing valuable stakeholders who already teach these concepts in this manner when you are only focusing on professional Engineers and math and science teachers.

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  2. The exclusive emphasis on Science and Math as a method to entice students into an Engineering career is discouraging and short sighted. The National Academy Press 2002 publication, “Technically Speaking, Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology” page 70 offers this conclusion, “…the public and policy makers should place a high value on basic understanding of technology, including an understanding of how it is created.” Planned K-12 Technology programs can help focus students’ interest on the nature, history, and role of Engineering in our society. Furthermore, classes dedicated to technological studies provide a laboratory environment in which students can design solutions to real world problems. I hope IEEE accents the T and E in STEM.

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  3. I’m confused by the science slant taken in this commentary on the possibility of an Engineering Education Act. For example, “The E2 Education Act would help states introduce engineering to students as regular parts of the science curriculum.” The bill as drafted makes no such decisions or provisions and I thought that most realized that the “science community” hasn’t exactly welcomed engineering instruction over the past several years…

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  4. I’d highly recommend sharing thoughts with IEEE — we just posted as a courtesy, since they’ve been supportive of our team. Visit http://www.ieeeusa.org/policy/careerflyin/default.asp to share your comments with there.

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