Investment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education has been identified as a pressing need. While science and mathematics, and to a lesser extent, technology-based learning opportunities have been important features of past efforts, and can be readily found in K-12 curriculums, the E ("Engineering") in STEM is underrepresented.
Engineering is about designing solutions to recognized problems or needs. Solutions can be new concepts envisioned for the first time by an engineer. Taking a new concept from the mind's eye to physical form is fulfilling and motivating. Young students have not typically had the opportunity to see their ideas make the trip from concept to physical form. The advent of emerging technologies such as digital fabrication potentially can give students this opportunity for the first time.
Digital Fabrication Explained
Digital fabrication is the process of translating a digital design into a physical object.
- from Rationale for Incorporating Engineering Education into the Teacher Education Curriculum by Glen Bull, Gerald Knezek, and David Gibson
Digital design in the context of digital fabrication refers more to the creation of things like shape nets, Google Sketchup models, and 3D geometric models and less to the aesthetic qualities inherent with traditional use of the word "design." Yet, the creation of a digital design is only one step in the process; creating a physical obect out of materials like paper, foam, or clay is the crucial final step in digital fabrication. Tools like the Silhouette, a die cut machine that cuts a variety of paper products, and 3D printing machines make tangible product creation a real possibility for teachers and students.
This website was created as part of
the National Science Foundation Innovative Technologies (ITEST) Grant #1030865.