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Educators To Analyze Best Methods
For Integrating Engineering Into School Curricula

Editor's note: Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend conference sessions. To arrange to attend, contact Eric Weld at (413) 585-2190 or eweld@smith.edu.

In the wake of legislation last year that made Massachusetts the first state to require engineering instruction in every grade in its public schools, secondary school and college educators will converge on Smith College next week to analyze the most effective and equitable ways of teaching engineering.

About 45 educators will participate in "Synergy: An Intensive Working Conference on Engineering Education Connecting Secondary School and College Faculty" from Sunday, July 8, through Thursday, July 12. The conference is being funded with a grant from the Ford Motor Company to Smith's Picker Engineering Program and sponsored by the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology (NCSSSMST).

Among its presentations, the conference will feature a talk, "Introducing Engineering to K-12 Learning Environments," by Ioannis Miaoulis, dean of the School of Engineering at Tufts University. It was Miaoulis' leadership that prompted the state Board of Education to pass legislation in December 2000 that will require the state to integrate engineering education into its K-12 science and technology curriculum.

Introducing engineering to elementary and secondary school students poses its own set of unique challenges, says Gail Scordilis, director of educational outreach at Smith and coordinator of the conference. That's precisely why a conference such as "Synergy" is needed, she says. "What does it mean to introduce engineering into the school curriculum?" asks Scordilis. "How do you do that?"

The "Synergy" conference plans to plumb those questions by ultimately preparing and presenting summaries on its findings based on four broad themes: designing new approaches in engineering curricula; merging engineering and the liberal arts; analyzing recruitment, retention and achievement issues; and developing strategies to foster ongoing engineering partnerships.

The conference will include a workshop, "Succeeding at Fairness," by David Sadker of American University and Phyllis Lerner, director of Interweave, that will analyze gender equality in the classroom and a session, titled "Lessons Learned: Faculty Efforts to Improve Student Learning," by Susan Millar, director of the Learning through Evaluation, Adaptation and Dissemination (LEAD) Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Other presentations will include "The Truth About Our Kids: Attitudes Towards Math" by B. Dundee Holt, vice president of public information at the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, and "Uniting Wisdom and Power in the Practice of Technology," by Kathryn Neeley of the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Established in 1999, the Picker Engineering Program is the first and only engineering program at a women's college. Summary reports from the "Synergy" conference will be published in the NCSSSMST journal.

For a schedule or more information, contact Scordilis at (413) 585-3879 or gscordil@smith.edu; or consult the "Synergy" Web site at http://www.smith.edu/summerprograms/educators.

Contact: Eric Weld, eweld@smith.edu

July 3, 2001

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