The emphasis on engineering education in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) reflects the rising demand for a well-trained engineering workforce. Despite the growing need for early (P-12) engineering education, deficits persist, attributable in part to the dearth of STEM teachers with engineering knowledge. To address these deficits, we have created the Hk Maker Lab, a suite of interconnected programs that emphasizes engineering design training in high schools. One component of the Hk Maker Lab is the formation of engineering design curricula for NYC high schools. We accomplish this by providing professional development for teachers in coordination with a collaborative, data-driven curriculum development effort. To train teachers, we use our six-week high school engineering design process (EDP) summer program as a co-learning environment. STEM teachers receive hands-on training in the EDP while observing engineering instruction and its challenges. This firsthand experience provides teachers with real-time student feedback during EDP instruction in coordination with receiving that instruction themselves. The co-learning approach exposes teachers to the challenges that arise in teaching students how to identify and solve open-ended problems. This paper provides a framework for leveraging summer or after-school EDP programs into co-learning environments that can facilitate the creation of novel EDP courses.
The Hk Maker Lab summer program is a six-week course that teaches the EDP through a series of interactive workshops, laboratory activities, and open-ended prototyping work. Invited teachers participate fully in programmatic activities alongside students, gaining experience with fundamental EDP skills such as needs identification, customer discovery, design inputs, solution brainstorming, and proof of concept testing. Teachers document student responses to specific program activities, focusing on the attitude, knowledge, and infrastructure challenges that occur when introducing the EDP. The teachers and Hk Maker Lab project team have weekly curriculum development workshops to reflect on their observations, outline the course progressions for in-school EDP courses, create new curricular materials or adapt existing materials from the summer program, and de-risk the course content. Teachers are expected to implement these curricula in their schools during the subsequent academic year.
Two teachers have successfully participated in the Hk Maker Lab curriculum development program, resulting in EDP courses for their respective schools. One of those courses is currently in progress, while the other will begin this academic year. The courses are being assessed with regard to their effects on students’: attitudes towards engineering; knowledge of EDP content; and further pursuit of engineering education and STEM undergraduate majors. These assessments will drive curriculum development efforts that will occur with future teacher cohorts. In this way, Hk Maker Lab will develop an iterative process of data-driven curricular refinement that will grow more robust as more teachers learn the EDP and create new courses.
In the Hk Maker lab, we have created a combined professional and curriculum development that is an effective way to establish novel EDP courses for high schools. By training teachers in engineering alongside students, teachers learn the EDP in an applied fashion and gain insight into the challenges students face when learning engineering.
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