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Integrating Science into Design Technology Projects: Using a Standard Model in the Design Process

Author:

Bernard Zubrowski

Education Development Center, Inc., Newton, Massachusetts., US
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Abstract

Technology education at the elementary and middle school levels has been undergoing major revisions in recent years. There are currently a variety of pedagogical approaches to introduce elementary and middle school students to the processes and content of technological know-how and knowledge. These approaches span a range from a completely open-ended design challenge to a tightly structured, lengthy curriculum program. Given that there is an on-going debate about the nature of technology education and that current practices may be seen as transitional in nature, there are shortcomings in these practices that need to be addressed. One problem shared with other domains, such as science and mathematics, is a lack of depth. There is a need to balance the making of models or products with critical thinking. In addition, it is recognized that basic science knowledge would enrich and result in a more effective design process, at least in some areas of engineering technology. Given the time constraints of elementary and middle school teachers, this possible enrichment tends to be neglected. Coming at this from the other direction are science curriculum programs and teachers who recognize the highly motivating aspects of design problems. They tend to emphasize the inquiry process over the design process. What could be a mutually reinforcing and rich undertaking, where inquiry and design are dealt with in-depth, currently tends to be a situation where both are slighted. I will propose a pedagogical model that attempts to address this issue by advocating a special type of integration. This will be illustrated by a case study of a 4th grade class building and investigating a model windmill. I will illustrate how the introduction of what I call a “standard model” can be used to help students develop some basic scientific understanding, which can then be applied to making a more effective design. I will also discuss some issues of implementation that need to be addressed if such an approach is adopted.

How to Cite: Zubrowski, B. (2011). Integrating Science into Design Technology Projects: Using a Standard Model in the Design Process. Journal of Technology Education, 13(2), 48–67. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21061/jte.v13i2.a.4
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Published on 22 Mar 2011.
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