The Role of Engineering in Successful K–12 STEM Education

Moderator: Darryl Williams
Panelists: Greg Pearson, Cary Sneider, Marion Usselman
Engineering education is gaining a foothold in our nation’s K–12 schools. Many states now include engineering concepts and practices in their standards, and the recently released Next Generation Science Standards elevate engineering to a core area of study. However, schools will face implementation challenges as they begin preparation and support of teachers who will be responsible for engineering education. This panel explores the current and future status of engineering education and opens the discussion to the audience.

Darryl Williams, Associate Dean for Recruitment, Retention, and Community Engagement and Director of the Center for STEM Diversity, School of Engineering, Tufts University
Darryl N. Williams joined Tufts in April 2013 as associate dean for recruitment, retention, and community engagement and director of the Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Diversity in the School of Engineering. Williams came to Tufts from his former position as a program officer at the NSF, focusing on engineering education. He is a chemical engineer by formal training, receiving his doctorate from University of Maryland, College Park. He received a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health to conduct research in magnetic nanoparticle uptake in mammalian cells at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. After the conclusion of his fellowship, Williams focused on creating opportunities in STEM for underrepresented communities in the Philadelphia area. He served as executive director of iPRAXIS, a nonprofit organization that seeks to support minority scientists to take ideas from the bench to business. He also acted as a consultant to the STEM Technologies nonprofit group that facilitates the building of partnerships among industry, academia, and the community at large to strengthen STEM learning networks. Since 2009, Williams had served as an NSF program officer overseeing the grants administration in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL) for programs such as Discovery Research K–12 (DR K–12), Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST), National Robotics Initiative (NRI), and Advanced Technological Education (ATE).

Greg Pearson, Senior Program Officer, National Academy of Engineering
Greg Pearson is a senior program officer with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in Washington, D.C. Pearson currently serves as the responsible staff officer for the NSF-funded project Changing the Conversation: From Research to Action and the project Changing the Conversation: Building the Community, supported by the United Engineering Foundation. He is also study director for the public- and private-sector-funded study Integrated STEM Education: Developing a Research Agenda. He was the study director for the project that resulted in the publication of Standards for K–12 Engineering Education? (2010) and Engineering in K–12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects (2009), an analysis of efforts to teach engineering to U.S. school children. Pearson oversaw the NSF-funded project that resulted in the 2008 publication Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering and was co-editor of the reports Tech Tally: Approaches to Assessing Technological Literacy (2006) and Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology (2002). In the late 1990s, Pearson oversaw NAE and National Research Council reviews of technology education content standards developed by the International Technology Education Association. Pearson has degrees in Biology and Journalism.

Cary Sneider, Associate Research Professor, Portland State University
Cary Sneider is an associate research professor at Portland State University in Oregon, where he teaches courses in research methodology in a Master of Science Teaching degree program. He also serves as a consultant on diverse issues in STEM education, such as youth programs at science centers, educational standards, and assessment. Sneider is currently a member of the writing team for Achieve, Inc., and is working on the Next Generation Science Standards. He is a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as “The Nation’s Report Card.” Until 2007, Sneider served as vice president for educator programs at the Museum of Science in Boston, and prior to that, he served as director of astronomy and physics education at the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Sneider’s curriculum development and research interests have focused on helping students unravel their misconceptions in science, on new ways to link science centers and schools to promote student inquiry, and on integrating engineering and technology education into the K–12 curriculum. In 1997, he received the Distinguished Informal Science Education award from the National Science Teachers Association, and in 2003, he was named National Associate of the National Academy of Sciences. Sneider earned a BA in Astronomy from Harvard College, and an MA and PhD in Science Education from the University of California at Berkeley.

Marion Usselman, Principal Research Scientist and Associate Director for Federal Outreach and Research, Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC), Georgia Institute of Technology
Marion Usselman leads a team of educators and educational researchers who are exploring how to integrate science, mathematics, and engineering within authentic middle school contexts and researching the nature of the resultant student learning. The Science Learning Integrating Design, Engineering and Robotics (SLIDER) NSF DR K–12 project has designed and implemented a project-based eighth-grade physical science curriculum that addresses core science practices and disciplinary ideas through engineering design challenges and LEGO Mindstorm robotics. The Advanced Manufacturing and Prototyping Integrated To Unlock Potential (AMP-IT-UP) NSF Mathematics and Science Partnership project is creating curricula for the engineering and technology pathway in grades 6–9. The materials promote STEM academic engagement through manufacturing-focused design/build activities that are situated within an engineering design learning arc, stressing prototyping, iterative testing, data analysis, and redesign. Both SLIDER and AMP-IT-UP are being implemented and studied in low-income Georgia public schools. Usselman co-directed the Student and Teacher Enhancement Partnership (STEP) in NSF’s Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) Program that created mutually beneficial partnerships between Georgia Tech and metro-Atlanta high schools, anchored by graduate student fellows and partner teachers. She also provided leadership in developing online teacher professional development courses for the Georgia Tech-based NASA Electronic Professional Development Network (ePDN), and in promoting K–12 teaching as a career option through Georgia Tech’s Tech to Teaching program. Usselman holds a BA in Physics from the University of California, San Diego and a PhD in Biophysics from Johns Hopkins University.