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A Parent's Guide: Hey Mom, I Want To Be An Engineer! (page 2)

— National Education Association
Updated on Dec 16, 2008

What content should I expect my child to be learning?

What students should know and be able to do is identified in standards developed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA– Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology. Standards for K–12 were formally reviewed by the National Academy of Engineering, the National Research Council, and the technology teaching community.

The standards address content for K–12. Content is integrated into thematic units at the elementary levels, while course titles at the middle and high school levels may include:

  • Exploring Technology
  • Innovation and Engineering Design, Technological Systems
  • Engineering Design Fundamentals
  • Inventions/Innovations

The standards also address medical, agricultural and related bio-technologies, energy and power, information and communication, transportation, manufacturing, and construction topics.

Does a school need special equipment to have a technology program? Most projects in elementary schools can be carried out in the regular classroom. Some projects and activities require tools, so a large area where cutting and using hammers and screwdrivers will be necessary. Most high schools have classroom-laboratories.

These facilities usually have the following:

  • Research and design area
  • Space where students can construct, build, or complete activities
  • Facility for students to test and experiment
  • Space for individual learning stations that allow for specific studies on technical topics such as rocketry and telecommunications

What effect does teaching technology have on our workforce and society?

The workforce of the future must have the ability to use, manage, and understand technology. By the year 2014, the Department of Labor expects an increase of 28.4 percent in professional, scientific, and technical services (Department of Labor, 2004). That’s 1.9 million new jobs!

What can I do to encourage my child?

  • Take advantage of the science and technology museums in your area. If there isn’t one in your neighborhood, check online. Many museums are putting information and activities on theWeb for young people to explore. One favorite is The Spirit of American Innovation (www.thetech.org/nmot).
  • When you buy a product that’s “new and improved,” talk with your child about the innovation that makes it “new and improved.”Why do companies do this? Does your child have any ideas for making it even better?What would she do?
  • Involve your child in programs that encourage invention and innovation, such as one of the following:
    • The Technology Student Association (TSA) is a national, nonprofit organization for middle and high school students with an interest in technology. Assisting TSA’s diverse population of 200,000+ student members are educators, alumni, parents, and business leaders. TSA offers competitions and programs, while providing information about becoming a technology teacher (www.tsaweb.org).
    • The Junior Engineering Technical Society is a nonprofit education organization established in 1950 to inform and excite young people about careers in engineering. JETS hosts an annual competition for students to solve a real-world engineering problem (www.jets.org).
    • FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a multinational nonprofit organization that aspires to transform culture, making science, math, engineering, and technology as cool for kids as sports are today. FIRST has an annual robotic competition for high school students and a FIRST Lego League for students ages 9–14 (www.usfirst.org).
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