Bringing Engineering Design into High School Science Classrooms: The Heating/Cooling Unit
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- Apedoe, X.S., Reynolds, B., Ellefson, M.R. et al. J Sci Educ Technol (2008) 17: 454. doi:10.1007/s10956-008-9114-6
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Infusing engineering design projects in K-12 settings can promote interest and attract a wide range of students to engineering careers. However, the current climate of high-stakes testing and accountability to standards leaves little room to incorporate engineering design into K-12 classrooms. We argue that design-based learning, the combination of scientific inquiry and engineering design, is an approach that can be used to meet both K-12 educators’ and engineering advocates’ goals. This paper describes an 8-week high school curriculum unit, the Heating/Cooling System, in which engineering design is used to teach students central and difficult chemistry concepts such as atomic interactions, reactions, and energy changes in reactions. The goals of the paper are to (1) describe this successful design-based unit, (2) provide guidelines for incorporating design-based learning into other science topics, and (3) provide some evidence of its value for teaching difficult chemistry concepts and increasing interest in engineering careers.