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3.7: Instructor Supplemental Resources

Created by: CK-12

Standards

ASEE Draft Engineering Standards. This chapter is focused on “Dimension 5: Engineering and Society” of the ASEE Corporate Members Council Draft Engineering Standards; these draft standards will serve as input to the National Academy of Engineering process of considering engineering standards for K-12 education. This dimension includes the following outcomes:

  • Students will develop an understanding that engineering is an ethical human endeavor that addresses the needs of a global society.
  • Students will be able to investigate and analyze the impact of engineering on a global society.

Common Preconceptions

Students have a number of preconceptions about engineering, technology, and the topic of this unit—water—which can affect their understanding of the reading material and activities. There are preconceptions relating to Dimension 5: Engineering and Society in general and others related specifically to the standards subsumed by Dimension 5.

Engineering and Engineers

Students have little to no knowledge about what engineers do or to the range of engineering careers open to them. They rarely know anyone who is an engineer unless that person is a relative. Perceptions of what engineers do are limited to planning, designing, building, fixing and repairing things. Engineers are also perceived as male and never female. Engineers who work with computers are viewed as hackers. All engineers are viewed as lacking social qualities.

Technology

Students also have preconceptions of technology. They see technology as limited primarily to computers and related to electronic devices. They do not see such simple artifacts as zippers or forks as technological innovations that were groundbreaking in their time. Nor, do they see the built world as filled with engineering innovations that have served the needs of society.

Addressing the Needs of a Global Society

Among female students in particular, the strongest preconception is that engineering does not meet the needs of society and as a consequence students do not choose engineering careers. This naïve conception is strongly linked to the lack of knowledge about what engineers do and the range of engineering careers available to them. Furthermore, since conceptions of engineering are limited to building, fixing, and repairing things, as well as designing and planning, students’ views of engineering and its reach is local rather than global. Female students are also more likely than males to describe the products of engineering as having just as many negative impacts on society, such as bombs, as positive impacts.

Investigate and Analyze the Impact of Engineering on a Global Society

Most people in the United States do not recognize the role of engineers in developing new forms of energy or drugs or even working in space. These activities are seen as the work of scientists. Furthermore, they do not understand that engineers work with scientists to create new technologies. In a survey of the International Technology Education Association, only 36% of respondents chose “changing the natural world to satisfy our needs” when asked to select what comes to mind when they hear the word technology.

When students look at large-scale problems such as those relating to the environment, they tend to focus their analysis on the scientific aspects of such problems and ignore the ethical, economic, legal, and social components. A narrow focus in analyzing problems that impact a global society, attributing the work of engineers to scientists and misunderstanding the role of technology must first be addressed before students can investigate and analyze the impact of engineering on a global society.

Water

When environmental problems such as water pollution are presented to students they make distinctions between local and global problems rather than seeing them as one and the same. Local problems are solved from an anthropocentric perspective based on personal views in contrast to global problems that are solved using scientific knowledge. Ethical, legal, and economic factors are rarely seen as important in solving environmental problems.

Furthermore, students do not understand that water is part of a complex dynamic system within which water is conserved. They do not understand the physical and chemical process of the water cycle. They do understand that the water system has an atmospheric component but not that it has a groundwater component. Nor, do they understand the water table. In addition, ground water is believed to be captured in impervious rock or to be contained in large static underground lakes.

Only 11% of students believe that industries play a role in water pollution by dumping industrial waste into streams. Students who live near polluted rivers had a limited sense of the extent of water pollution despite their proximity to polluted rivers. These students believed that rivers in rural areas were not polluted. And, because students do not see the connection between groundwater and atmospheric water they do not make connections between the hydrosphere and other components of various earth systems which limits their ability to once again think globally.

Bibliography and References

  • Dale Baker, Steve Krause, Senay Yasar, Chell Roberts, and Sharon Robinson-Kurpius. “An Intervention on Tinkering and Technical Self-efficacy, and the Understanding of the Societal Relevance of Science and Technology.” Journal of Engineering Education 98 (2007): 213–26.
  • Eneken Metsalu. “Students’ Environmental Knowledge and Decision-Choices in 6th and 9th Grade.” Downloaded July 2005. Available on the web at
  • http://www.ut.ee/biodida/e/metsalu.htm
  • Nir Orion and Orit Ben-zvi-Assarf. “A Study of Junior-High Students Perceptions of the Water Cycle.” Journal of Geoscience Education 53 (2005): 366–73.
  • Renato Schibeci, A. Fetherstonhaugh, and S. Griffin. “Conceptions of Water Related Phenomena.” Research in Science Education 23 (1993): 259–65.
  • University of Massachusetts, “Engineering for K-12 Students: Concept Papers.” July 2007. Available on the web at
  • http://www.massachusetts.edu/stem/engineering_concept.html

Annotated Reading List

Stefanow, Jennifer. (2004). Polluted waters. Chicago, IL: Raintree. Pages: 48, Price: $22.00 (USD), ISBN: 0739870165 (9780739870167)

This book is appropriate for students in grades 5-9+ (ages 11–15+). The book is one of the six titles in Raintree’s “Green Alert!” series. This nonfiction series examines the impact of modern life on our planet’s ecosystems. Polluted Waters focuses on the sources of water pollution and the need to conserve this important resource. The book includes six chapters. Beginning with an introduction to water pollution, its forms, and how to measure it, the book presents causes of water pollution and effects on plants, ecosystems, animals, and people. Real world case studies are introduced to the reader.

Bowden, Rob. (2003). Water supply: Our impact on the planet. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaugh Company. Pages: 64, Price: $24 (USD), ISBN: 0739855069 (9780739855065)

Water Supply is appropriate for students in grades 6+ (age 12+) and above. Part of the “21st Century Debates” series, this easy to read book discusses the significance water has to our lives, the scarcity of fresh water and the ensuing problems. Over nine chapters, the reader is presented with the background knowledge needed to understand the issue of sustaining our water resources for the future.

Arato, Rona. (2005). World of water: Essential to life. New York: Crabtree. Pages: 32, Price: $18.90 (USD), ISBN: 0778714160 (0778714489)

World of Water is appropriate for students in grade 4+ (age 10+). The book presents background knowledge on our biological need for water, the process of the water cycle, the distribution of water supply among rivers, geysers, springs, etc., and the water treatment necessary to make available potable water.

Dalgleish, Sharon. (2003). Saving water. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House Publishers. Pages: 32, Price: Unknown, ISBN: 0791070166 (9780791070161)

Saving Water is appropriate for students in grade 4+ (age 10+) and above. The book presents elementary information about water and its properties, its uses at home, industry, and agriculture, and the relationship between water and disease.

McDonald, Bernadette & Jehl, Douglas (Eds). (2003). Whose water is it? The unquenchable thirst of a water-hungry world. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. Pages: 232, Price: $25 (USD), ISBN: 0792262387

This book is appropriate for high school youth and young adults (age 15+). An edited volume, this book presets multiple perspectives about ownership, scarcity, conflict, and prospects for sustaining water for the future. In barely 20 years from now, it is predicted that one-half of the earth’s population may lack sufficient access to water for basic needs. Within such a context, the contributors of this volume carefully examine the question of “Whose water is it?” Readers should be provoked to think about and take action to sustain this important resource.

Water Use Activity

This activity can be used in conjunction with the section To Engineer Is Human. You may wish to select uses from those that students identify in the activity at the end of the section, or you may use those already in the table.

  • First ask the students to rate the importance of each use individually by rank ordering the uses, 5 to 1, with 5 having the highest priority and 1 the least.
  • Form small groups of five students and ask them to calculate the average ranking for each water use for their group. (Note: If there are 5 students in a team, then for each water use, the students have to total the rank given by each student for that group and divide the total by 5.) Give students time to discuss differences in their rankings. Encourage students to express their feelings about the differences in their own ranking of the water uses with that of the group average.
  • Compute the class average ranking for the listed water uses and plot a frequency chart for each water use ranking. This will create a water use index for the class and a visual representation of the whole group’s value for different water uses.
  • Extend this activity by asking students to discuss the water index developed by the class with their family and community members.
  • Extend this activity by asking students to add to the list of water uses provided below. Have them discuss examples of each type of water use.

Water Use Chart

Rank the following water uses: 5 for the most important to 1 for the least important

Water use Individual ranking Small Group average Class average
Number of students in small group: ___ Number of students in class: ___

Human Consumption: Drinking, Cooking, Bathing

Energy Generation: Hydroelectric, Nuclear, and Coal

Irrigation for Agriculture: Wheat, Corn, Rice, Vegetables

Industrial Manufacturing: Computers, Automobiles

Wildlife and Conservation: Fish, Endangered Species, Habitats

Project—Engineering Water: News Special Edition

Students will develop their own special edition of a newspaper that is exclusively focused on water and engineering.

Objectives

Students will (demonstrate that they)

  • recognize that water is an important global resource,
  • understand that engineering plays a significant role in sustaining our water resources.

Students will be able to (demonstrate by doing)

  • examine the impact of engineering on water in their own lives as well as in a global context,
  • analyze the knowledge they have gathered on engineering’s impact on water,
  • synthesize their knowledge and publish a newspaper edition on water and the role of engineering,
  • critique and discuss their Engineering Water: News Special Edition.

Materials needed

Internet-accessible computer, newspapers, textbooks.

Engage

The teacher shows examples of drought and or water pollution around the world and engages the students in a discussion about what happens to people, animals, crops, and quality of life when water resources are limited or polluted. Examples could be Africa or a local waterway or the situations depicted in Figures 11 and 12.

The teacher presents the assignment for the explore section of the lesson. Students should decide on whether they wish to investigate the issue of drought or water pollution, and identify a country or part of the world to research. They may work in pairs or individually or even in small groups. They should also identify some of the engineering solutions being used to address the problems of water pollution and drought.

The teacher should also provide criteria for evaluating the accuracy and quality of the information students gather. Some criteria could include the qualifications of the writer (a scientist, engineer, newspaper reporter, private citizen) as well as the trustworthiness of the source (advocacy group, scientific organization, political organization, government, textbook, personal blog).

A Russian oil tanker broke in half in the Kerch Strait in November 2007 and released more than 2000 metric tons of fuel oil. This polluted a large stretch of shoreline, injuring many birds and fish.

Because of a drought in South Australia in 2007 and 2008, a potential swimming hole is dried-up and the sign is no longer necessary.

Explore

Students use multiple resources (textbooks, newspapers, internet) to research their topic and organize the data in chart form. The students present their information to one another as a whole class activity. This data chart is a way to help students organize the information they find.

Description of the topic (drought or water pollution) Locations (area of the world, country or area of a country, local) Impact on people Impact on crops Impact on animals Impact on quality of life Engineering solutions
Example 1
Example 2
Example 3
Example 4

Explain

On the basis of the presentations, the teacher prepares and then provides background information or addresses aspects of the issue students may have overlooked. For example, a student might identify fewer crops in drought conditions but not see the impact on animals (less fodder) or quality of life (higher costs of food, fewer food choices). If students have confined their research to fresh water resources and overlooked the importance of the ocean as a global water resource, the teacher should explain the role of the ocean in providing food, employment and moderating climate. In a similar vein, students may have focused their research on large-scale engineering solutions and overlooked smaller or simpler engineering solutions. If this is the case the teacher can provide examples. Errors in understanding the science might also have to be addressed. Some of those preconceptions are identified at the beginning of the chapter and include misunderstandings about groundwater, the water cycle. Finally the teacher may need to help students evaluate the accuracy of the information.

This is also the time to explain to the students how you wish the newspaper articles to be written and the newspaper to be organized. Students tend to write boxcar paragraphs in which the first paragraph will be a report on the first example they have included in their data chart. The second paragraph will describe the second example. The third paragraph will describe the third example and so on through all of the examples. Students will need help in how to synthesize their examples in order to write about them. They should also be provided with the student outcomes on the rubric so that they are sure to address all of the outcomes for the activity. You should also take time to explain what each of the outcomes mean.

Evaluate

After students write their articles, they should have an opportunity to critique and discuss their articles with their peers. Since, writing is a recursive process, students should have the opportunity to revise their articles on the basis of their discussion. The newspaper should then be shared with other classes or publicly displayed as part of the school newspaper or posted on the schools’ Internet site.

Rubric for student outcomes
Student Outcomes Strongly meets criteria Adequately meets criteria Minimally meets criteria Does not meet criteria
Recognize that water is an important global resource Provides multiple examples of water as a global resource Provides some examples of water as a global resource Provides examples of water as a local resource Does not provide examples of water as a local or global resource
Understand that engineering plays a significant role in sustaining water resources Provides multiple examples of the role of engineering in sustaining water resources Provides some examples of the role of engineering in sustaining water resources Provides one example of the role of engineering in sustaining water resources Does not provide examples of the role of engineering in sustaining water resources
Examine the impact of engineering on water in their own lives Provides multiple examples of the impact of engineering on water in their own lives Provides some examples of the impact of engineering on water in their own lives Provides one example of the impact of engineering on water in their own lives Does not provide examples of the impact of engineering on water in their own lives
Examine the impact of engineering on water in a global context Provides multiple examples of the impact of engineering on water in a global context Provides some examples of the impact of engineering on water in a global context Provides one example of the impact of engineering on water in a global context Does not provide examples of the impact of engineering on water in a global context
Analyze the information gathered on engineering’s impact on water Can determine the accuracy of information gathered and implications for a global society Can determine the accuracy of some of the information gathered and identify some implications for a global society Can determine the accuracy of information gathered but not the implications for a global society Cannot determine the accuracy of information gathered nor the implications for a global society
Synthesize their knowledge in the form of a newspaper article on water and the role of engineering Knowledge is synthesized in the form of a newspaper article Knowledge is presented in the form of a newspaper article but is not synthesized Some of the Knowledge is presented in the form of a newspaper article but is not synthesized Cannot write a newspaper article
Critique and discuss their Engineering Water: News Special Edition Applies the rubric to their own work and the work of peers and can identify how to make the News Edition better Applies the rubric to their own work and the work of peers but cannot identify how to make the edition better Applies the rubric to the work of their peers but cannot self-evaluate Cannot apply the rubric to their own work or the work of peers

Coding

\text{Strongly meets criteria} & = 3\ \;\mathrm{points} \\\text{Adequately meets criteria} &  = 2\ \;\mathrm{points} \\\text{Minimally meets criteria} &  = 1\ \;\mathrm{point} \\\text{Does not meet criteria} & = 0\ \;\mathrm{points}

Evaluation of Engineering Water:News Special Edition

Notes to the teacher

The following short answer questions are open ended. There are many correct answers to each of the questions. Consequently, the answers your students give to the questions will vary from student to student. However, you should look for an understanding that reflects the hands-on activity of writing news articles and creating a Special News Edition. Student answers should be linked to the data gathered, analyzed, synthesized, discussed, and written about in Engineering Water: News Special Edition.

Notes to the student

These are short answer questions. You should be able to answer these questions based on your work during the activity of preparing a News Special Edition.

  1. Provide three reasons why water is an important global resource.
  2. List three ways in which engineering plays a role in sustaining our water resources.
  3. What impact does engineering have on water in your own life? Be specific and provide details.
  4. What impact does engineering have on water globally (around the world)? Be specific and provide details.
  5. How is the impact of engineering on water in your on life and globally the same? How is it different?

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