Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Tech-Know: Integrating Engaging Activities through Standards-Based Learning: These Units Enable [Students] to Get Excited about Learning, Doing, and Thinking in the Technology Education Classroom

Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Tech-Know: Integrating Engaging Activities through Standards-Based Learning: These Units Enable [Students] to Get Excited about Learning, Doing, and Thinking in the Technology Education Classroom

Article excerpt

Background

Science, mathematics, and technology (SMT) literacy is vital to national interests, in particular to maintaining the economic health of the nation and the well being of its citizenry, making the success of SMT education especially important to everyone. While science and mathematics education have been criticized in the past for being too theoretical and lacking in application, technology education (TED) has been criticized for emphasizing the making of things without sufficient grounding in theory (Peterson, 2000). Technology education is in a strong position to integrate SMT education because of its natural orientation towards active learning and the application of scientific and mathematical principles.

In August 2001, North Carolina State University received a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop standards-based instructional materials for 20 Technology Student Association (TSA) activities. The TECH-know Project represents a significant collaboration between selected state departments, universities, businesses, and TSA. During the past three years, 144 technology education teachers, technology teacher educators, TSA Curriculum Resource Committee members, and business representatives from across the country have worked together to develop high quality standards-based units of instruction that reflect Standards for Technological Literacy (ITEA, 2000/2002), National Science Education Standards (NSTA, 1996), Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM, 2000), and TSA activities. During the first three years, technology education teachers from North Carolina, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Florida developed, piloted, and field-tested the units of instruction each fall. The TECH-know Project has developed 20 units of instruction based on TSA activities. These TSA activities include:

Middle School Units

* Agriculture and Biotechnology Challenge

* Cyberspace Pursuit

* Digital Photography

* Dragster Design Challenge

* Environmental Challenge

* Flight Challenge

* Mechanical Challenge

* Medical Technology Challenge I

* Structural Challenge

* Transportation Challenge

High School Units

* Agriculture and Biotechnology Design

* Desktop Publishing

* Film Technology

* Manufacturing Prototype

* Medical Technology Design

* Radio-Controlled Transportation

* Scientific Visualization

* Structural Engineering

* System Control

* Technology Challenge

TSA has experienced much success in challenging and motivating students through hands-on competitive events. The mission of TSA is to prepare its membership for the challenges of a dynamic world by promoting technological literacy, leadership, and problem solving, resulting in personal growth and opportunity (TSA, 2003). TSA provides technology education students with the opportunity to develop leadership and problem-solving skills through various avenues including student competitions at the local, state, and national levels. TSA issues more than 50 competitive events to middle and high school students, representing many content areas related to technology education and Standards for Technological Literacy.

Since the TECH-know instructional units are standards-based (Standards for Technological Literacy, National Science Education Standards, Principles and Standards for School Mathematics), they have the potential to encourage broader integration of TSA activities in the classroom. As TECH-know enters the publication phase, it is important that the technology education community understand its value to the field. Through TECH-know, technology education unites theory and application. The TECH-know Project combines the activities that technology education teachers value with the theory and standards (STL) that define the field. …

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