NGSS and the landscape of engineering in K-12 state science standards

Tamara J. Moore, Kristina M. Tank, Aran W. Glancy and Jennifer A. Kersten

Recent documents pertaining to K-12 education have fostered a connection between engineering and science education to help better prepare our students and future citizens to better meet the current and future challenges of our modern and technological society. With that connection, there has been a concerted effort to raise the visibility of engineering within K-12 science education, which is reflected in the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the recently released Next Generation Science Standards. As states look towards the adoption and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards, it is important to take a deeper look at the shift in K-12 science education that is being suggested by these documents and what that means in terms of the potential changes for states that have chosen to adopt these standards. The main research question that has guided the work for this paper is: What is the extent and quality of the engineering that is present in state science standards and the Next Generation Science Standards? This paper will present a detailed analysis of the landscape of engineering in K-12 policy before and after the release of the NGSS through a comparative case study of academic state science standards and Next Generation Science Standards. This comparison provides insight into what the widespread adoption of the NGSS would mean in terms of potential changes in the way we implement science education in the United States.



What matters in college for retaining aspiring scientists and engineers from underrepresented racial groups

Mitchell J. Chang, Jessica Sharkness, Sylvia Hurtado, Christopher B. Newman

This longitudinal study examined factors that contribute to the persistence of underrepresented racial minority (URM) undergraduates in STEM fields. The primary source of data came from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program’s 2004 The Freshman Survey (TFS) and 2008 College Senior Survey (CSS). The sample included 3,670 students at 217 institutions who indicated on the TFS that they intended to major in a STEM field, 1,634 of whom were underrepresented minority (URM) students. Findings indicate that Black and Latino undergraduates were significantly less likely to persist in STEM majors than were their White and Asian American counterparts. Background characteristics and college experiences moderated this race effect, suggesting both that pre-college factors may explain some of the observed racial disparities and that individual institutions can take more concrete actions to improve science achievement. Findings from the follow-up analysis of the sample of URMs suggest that institutions can improve URM STEM persistence by increasing the likelihood that those students will engage in key academic experiences: studying frequently with others, participating in undergraduate research, and involvement in academic clubs or organizations.


The Aeolus project: Science outreach through art

Ian A. Drumm, Amanda Belantara, Steve Dorney, Timothy P. Waters, Eulalia Peris

With a general decline in people’s choosing to pursue science and engineering degrees there has never been a greater need to raise the awareness of lesser known fields such as acoustics. Given this context, a large-scale public engagement project, the ‘Aeolus project’, was created to raise awareness of acoustics science through a major collaboration between an acclaimed artist and acoustics researchers. It centred on touring the large singing sculpture Aeolus during 2011/12, though the project also included an extensive outreach programme of talks, exhibitions, community workshops and resources for schools. Described here are the motivations behind the project and the artwork itself, the ways in which scientists and an artist collaborated, and the public engagement activities designed as part of the project. Evaluation results suggest that the project achieved its goal of inspiring interest in the discipline of acoustics through the exploration of an otherworldly work of art.