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Engineering Elephants: Introducing Young Children to Engineering

  • Emily M. Hunt (a1), Michelle L. Pantoya (a2) and Abbye M. Reeves (a3)


In this study, the authors focused on children from 2-8 years of age and asked the simple question: what do engineers do? The number one response was: “I don’t know”, the number two response was “they drive a train.” While children are very familiar with professionals such as doctors, teachers, nurses, firefighters and policemen, they are rarely introduced to engineers. With this motivation, the authors developed a novel children’s book on engineering: Engineering Elephants. This book is an outreach tool that introduces children to the dynamic world of engineering design through roller coasters, fireworks, and a plethora of other exciting adventures. The book teaches children about relevant topics such as nanotechnology, renewable energy, and prosthetics by engaging them through an interactive journey of an elephant and his questioning of the world around him. The text was strategically developed using the language of science (asking questions) and introducing vocabulary relevant to science and math using a lyrical pattern. This presentation will highlight the development of this book as an instructional aid but also detail the response of various age groups to engineering activities presented as a companion to this book. In particular, an elementary school district in West Texas designed a 4-5th grade 3-week summer school curriculum around this book. Results from this study will have an impact on future generations by inspiring them to consider the exciting profession of engineering at an early age.



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Engineering Elephants: Introducing Young Children to Engineering

  • Emily M. Hunt (a1), Michelle L. Pantoya (a2) and Abbye M. Reeves (a3)


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