Integrating Science and Engineering

12722794783_496414e7e8_mIn my elementary schedule, I barely have time for science, and now I’m concerned about teaching engineering, too. I’ve never studied engineering. Can you suggest some resources? —T., New Jersey

You might feel a little more confident after reading “The Next Generation Science Standards and Engineering for Young Learners: Beyond Bridges and Egg Drops”  from the October 2013 issue of NSTA’s elementary journal, Science and Children (S&C). The article has a chart comparing science and engineering practices, and you can see the overlaps and similarities. It seems that the thinking involved in inquiry and problem solving are similar, whether students are investigating natural phenomenon (science) or applying their knowledge to design products or processes to solve a problem or need (engineering).

In her blog, Early education in engineering and design, Peggy Ashbrook examines the engineering skills that even our youngest students already have. She provides insights, resources, and suggestions for building on these.

The Engineering Encounters column in S&C includes strategies that integrate engineering with science, support teaching children how to design solutions, and explore the ways engineers conduct their work.

Other S&C articles describe lessons with engineering components, too, and most lessons include a chart showing the connections to science and engineering practices in the Next Generation Science Standards.

You’re not alone in your concern. Most science teachers don’t have a background in engineering per se, so have fun with your young engineers and learn along with them!



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5 Responses to Integrating Science and Engineering


    I’m a science teacher in our place. WILLING

  2. Peggy Ashbrook says:

    Read about “Problem Solving:
    Engineering Experiences in Early Childhood” by Beth Van Meeteren & Betty Zan

  3. Emily Laudner says:

    When thinking about adding engineering into a science curriculum, I too get a “deer in the headlights” feeling. After thinking about engineering, it’s not so much of a content area, but a tool for me to use to teach a science curriculum. Using engineering skills can help students see how science works better. For example, the egg drop experiment that students love to do is simply and engineering mechanism that explains science. Creating a physical, 3-D model of the solar system, or a food chain attached to the ceiling of the room are both science concepts taught through engineering mechanisms. So, don’t be scared of having to “teach” engineering, but let it be a visual/physical tool for you to use in the classroom. Engineering doesn’t always mean robots, wires, and circuit building.

  4. Mary B says:

    Thanks for you input and reflections! I think one of the most interesting engineering applications is in the field of biomedical engineering, which integrates many science disciplines.

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