Bridging Engineering, Science, and Technology (BEST) for Elementary Educators
The BEST grant introduces college students (particularly education students intending to teach in elementary school classrooms) to engineering and technology by working with science and education faculty to integrate these concepts into their courses.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE-1003060. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Scientific and technological literacy are essential for all citizens in the 21st century. Elementary teacher preparation programs usually include a few introductory science courses, but many programs do not introduce any engineering or technology practices. To remedy this, Engineering is Elementary submitted and was awarded an NSF/ATE grant, Bridging Engineering, Science, and Technology (BEST) for Elementary Educators.
Through BEST, Engineering is Elementary staff work with science and education faculty to integrate engineering and technology curriculum and pedagogy into community college and four-year college courses that prepare tomorrow's teacher.
The main goals of the BEST Project are to:
- Strengthen college faculty’s knowledge of and capabilities to teach technology, engineering, and science in active, engaging ways that enhance education students’ engineering and technological literacy.
- Enrich college courses taken by pre-service education students with materials that: engage them in hands-on engineering and technology activities; integrate with science and mathematics, and provide exposure to careers in technical fields.
- Create a cadre of community college and four-year faculty that disseminate capabilities and curricular models to colleagues in the region, state, and nation.
BEST faculty met on June 6-7th for the third annual Engineering Education Symposium. Veteran faculty who have been a part of the grant from the very beginning were there, as well as a number of new faces! Berkshire Community College professor, Danielle Driscoll, presented her biomedical engineering unit on the design of running shoes. A panel of education students from Massasoit Community College, Bridgewater State University, Fitchburg State University, and Salem State University also attended, to discuss how the engineering activities in their courses prepared them for their field placements.
After the Symposium a BEST faculty member commented: “I think one of the things that is really great about the engineering challenges and the materials that are designed, is they support the science content areas that the frameworks had outlined. I think about where the standards are going and the next generation standards. It's very clearly going to be a stronger emphasis on technology and on engineering and I feel very fortunate; I think we're all way ahead of the game with that. These skills are going to be expected of the students so therefore we need to make sure our teacher candidates have the skills to teach that.”
For the past two years BEST education and science faculty have been developing engineering course integration plans. These plans describe the engineering content, pedagogy, and related activities developed to integrate engineering into their courses.
Click on the links below to view examples of ways our professors have integrated engineering and technology into their units!
Evaluation of the BEST grant focuses on documenting and assessing the anticipated effects on faculty participants – from learning new content, to attitudinal improvements toward the curricular integration of engineering, to eventual changes in classroom instruction. In addition, students who take courses from BEST faculty are given pre- and post-assessments to evaluate how their understanding of technology and engineering, as well as their attitudes towards those topics, changes after taking a course which has technology and engineering integrated into it.
The following reports document this effort: