Reviewed by Adah Stock
Master Teacher and a Science Education Consultant
STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) is one of the most talked about new buzz words for science education today. Engineering is a logical extension to science. This is not a passing fad. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) will push for even greater inclusion of technology, engineering, and mathematics in curricula. Built into the Framework are eight science and engineering practices: asking questions and defining problems; developing and using models; planning and carrying out investigations; analyzing and interpreting data; using math and computational thinking; constructing explanations and designing solutions; engaging in argument from evidence; and obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.
This volume was generated to further assist teachers in the marriage of the four disciplines of STEM. With something new inevitably comes the fear that this will only add work for the already overworked educator in the classroom. However, a key point is made in the introduction of this book. The editor says: “The inclusion of engineering concepts and practices in the Framework is not intended to add more to the plate of teachers with an already overburdened science curriculum.” This volume further champions this view. Each of the chapters addresses the Framework for NGSS and the core engineering ideas related to how scientists solve problems and how are engineering, technology, science, and society are interconnected? The volume contains thirty chapters and each chapter is an article originally published in one of NSTA's journals: Science and Children, Science Scope, The Science Teacher, and Journal of College Science Teaching.
The volume contains three major sections. Reading through this volume will help the reader to understand that scientists seek to learn more about the world around them while engineers use that knowledge and understanding to make something that benefits society in some form. The first section covers engineering design through exploring the steps involved in the process, comparing science and engineering lab practices, understanding the Thayer model of problem solving, and other topics presented to familiarize the reader with engineering design in a classroom setting. The second section covers examples of activities within the three disciplines of science: Life and Environmental Science, Earth Science, and Physical Science. These articles represent activities that cover grades K–12 with an emphasis on middle school. Some topics in the six Life and Environmental Science discipline cover prosthetics, bioengineering, gene–theory, plastics, and sport–utility vehicles. Some topics in the three Earth Science articles cover heat transfer and earthquake proof buildings. Some topics in nine Physical Science articles cover gravity racers, windmills, fuel–cell vehicles, catapults, and thermal insulation. The last major division of this volume relates to after–school programs. Some of the five articles cover a range of topics that includes effective models for after school programs, invention factories, encouraging girls, and engineering expos.The volume ends with a comprehensive index.
So why is this volume such a gem? Again I would go back to the quote in the introduction from the editor: The articles and the activities within these demonstrate that inclusion of engineering design into already established labs is not a burden but a logical extension of what students learn, how students should learn, and how they can apply their newfound knowledge and understandings. All of this occurs in one volume and that in and of itself makes it easy to learn, reference, and apply these concepts and practices.
Review posted on 11/28/2012