Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 454–465 | Cite as

Bringing Engineering Design into High School Science Classrooms: The Heating/Cooling Unit

  • Xornam S. ApedoeEmail author
  • Birdy Reynolds
  • Michelle R. Ellefson
  • Christian D. Schunn


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.


Design-based learning Inquiry-based learning High school science Project-based learning 



This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants EEC-0502035 and EHR-0227016. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xornam S. Apedoe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Birdy Reynolds
    • 1
  • Michelle R. Ellefson
    • 2
  • Christian D. Schunn
    • 1
  1. 1.Learning Research & Development CenterUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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