Engineering design in the primary school : Applying stem concepts to build an optical instrument

Journal article


King, Donna and English, Lyn D.. (2016) Engineering design in the primary school : Applying stem concepts to build an optical instrument. International Journal of Science Education. 38(18), pp. 2762-2794. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2016.1262567
AuthorsKing, Donna and English, Lyn D.
Abstract

Internationally there is a need for research that focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education to equip students with the skills needed for a rapidly changing future. One way to do this is through designing engineering activities that reflect real-world problems and contextualise students’ learning of STEM concepts. As such, this study examined the learning that occurred when fifth-grade students completed an optical engineering activity using an iterative engineering design model. Through a qualitative methodology using a case study design, we analysed multiple data sources including students’ design sketches from eight focus groups. Three key findings emerged: first, the collaborative process of the first design sketch enabled students to apply core STEM concepts to model construction; second, during the construction stage students used experimentation for the positioning of lenses, mirrors and tubes resulting in a simpler ‘working’ model; and third, the redesign process enabled students to apply structural changes to their design. The engineering design model was useful for structuring stages of design, construction and redesign; however, we suggest a more flexible approach for advanced applications of STEM concepts in the future.

KeywordsSTEM; science; mathematics; technology; engineering; primary; sociocultural
Year2016
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Journal citation38 (18), pp. 2762-2794
PublisherRoutledge
ISSN0950-0693
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2016.1262567
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85007271715
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range2762-2794
FunderAustralian Research Council
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online23 Dec 2016
Publication process dates
Accepted16 Nov 2016
Deposited16 Jul 2021
ARC Funded ResearchThis output has been funded, wholly or partially, under the Australian Research Council Act 2001
Grant IDARC/LP120200023
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