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Abstract

This article identifies a number of issues associated with current STEM education reform efforts, especially with regard to efforts to integrate engineering education into the K-12 curriculum. Precollege engineering is especially problematic in STEM reform since there is no well-established tradition of engineering in the K-12 curriculum. This discussion aims at identifying some of the issues and problems that serve to impede implementation of engineering education in the K-12 environment. Historically, engineering education has been the purview of higher education, and the epistemology of engineering education has not evolved to specifically inform the exigencies of K-12 education.

There also are little in the way of cohesive standards that establish appropriate precollege engineering knowledge and skills and provide a framework for shared understandings, cooperative partnerships across institutional boundaries, curricular development and implementation, and teacher preparation and professional development. The lack of standards and an epistemic foundation and tradition in K-12 engineering results in significant gaps in experience and knowledge to inform implementation, which is proceeding in schools despite these glaring obstacles, driven by legislative mandate, STEM funding initiatives, workforce demand, and other compelling forces. The lack of systemic infrastructure and support mechanisms for preengineering (such as are found in the sciences, mathematics, and other academic disciplines already participating in K-12 education) have resulted in a situation in which there is no clear, generally agreed upon standards and definition of a body of engineering knowledge, skills, and activities that constitute appropriate curricular content for teaching and learning in K-12 education.

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