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Studying Engineering Before They Can Spell It


Glen Rock kindergarten students

Kindergarten students in Glen Rock, NJ, test a wolf-proof house.

Credit: Ozier Muhammad / The New York Times

Children in kindergarten are being introduced to engineering as school districts across the United States embark on an aggressive pursuit of the discipline amid growing worries that U.S. students are lacking the technical skills to compete in an international economy.

Advocates say that engineering reinforces science and math skills, encourages critical thinking and creativity, and teaches students to welcome the opportunity to take intellectual risks. The Obama administration's Race to the Top competition, which will issue several billion dollars in education stimulus funding, favors science, technology, engineering, and math programs. Simultaneously, Congress is mulling legislation to promote engineering education in grades K through 12.

University of Pennsylvania professor Janine Remillard says that good teaching is the key to any curriculum's effectiveness. The American Society for Engineering Education's William E. Kelly says that engineering lessons for youngsters should be kept in perspective, and he stresses that students are really learning about engineering rather than engineering basics.

From The New York Times
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