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The Missing E in STEM: Engineering for Teachers in K-6 Schools

Increased interest in engineering education in the primary school context is being driven nationally and internationally through a growing consensus of its role as a natural integrator of the STEM disciplines. This professional development workshop will develop teachers' understanding of engineering literacy, the engineering design process, preliminary engineering content knowledge and effective pedagogy for integrating engineering into K-6 classroom practice.


About this course

Engineering is a meaningful and authentic context for improving motivation and achievement in mathematics and science, and for developing 21st century skills such as creativity, communication, ethical understanding, critical thinking, self-management and social skills (Blackley & Howell, 2015; English, 2016; Hunter, 2020; Moore et al., 2014; NASEM, 2020).

Beyond these educational possibilities, the development of engineering literacy is considered essential for inspiring and preparing Australia’s future STEM workforce with engineering habits of mind, knowledge and practices for addressing the complexity of skills challenges and ensuring Australia’s global competitiveness and prosperity (Education Council, 2015; Office of the Chief Scientist, 2013).

The National STEM School Education Strategy (Education Council, 2015) and Australian Curriculum (ACARA, 2016) recommend the use of engineering as a real-world context for STEM learning. However, there remains considerable uncertainty amongst teacher's as to how to use engineering in intentional evidence-based ways (Hunter, 2020; Strimel et al., 2020).

In this specially designed, online workshop, teachers will be guided in the use of intentional, research-based approaches which facilitate the integration of engineering into curriculum and classroom practices. Participants will experience and explore the application of key engineering concepts, the engineering design process and curriculum construction for the K-6 context. There will also be opportunities to engage in authentic examples of the impact of engineering on society and in practice.

Course structure

This short course will be delivered over two online sessions:

Session one - Part one:

  • Investigate the dimensions of engineering literacy, for comprehensive, authentic engineering education, as defined by Strimel et al. (2020) and NASEM (2020)
  • Gain insights into the influence of engineering on society and in practice through exposure to the work of engineers from different disciplines
  • Explore key engineering content and practices for K-6, including the engineering design process
  • Engage in an introduction to a content taxonomy for the coherent study of engineering in K-6 (Strimel et al., 2020) and be supported in your understanding of related core engineering concepts.

Session one - Part two:

  • Develop pedagogical content knowledge guided by the High Possibility Classrooms (HPC) framework (Hunter, 2015) and the 10 directions in the new HPC blueprint for High Possibility STEM Schools (Hunter, 2021).

Session two - Part one:

  • Engage in an engineering design activity, to deepen your understanding of how it can be used to enhance learning, engagement and motivation in other curriculum areas.

Session two - Part two:

  • Explore models of effective practice that demonstrate connections between the core engineering concepts in NSW syllabus content in mathematics, science and technology and general capabilities in the Australian curriculum
  • Analyse examples of relevant syllabus content through the lens of the engineering design process. Develop your ability to engage in an intentional research-based approach to create authentic learning experiences that leverage knowledge connections between mathematics, science, technology and engineering concepts.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Describe the elements of engineering literacy and apply the engineering design process
  • Understand authentic engineering concepts and contexts utilising the engineering design process and content taxonomy of engineering knowledge and practices appropriate for K-6
  • Create sequenced, innovative learning programs including projects, design challenges and units of work that leverage the connections between NSW syllabus content in mathematics, science and technology concepts and the relevant general capabilities from the Australian curriculum
  • Use a strategy to develop a professional community to foster and enhance individual learning in engineering as the crucial connector in science, mathematics and technology.

Who is this course for?

  • School leaders, teachers and pre-service teachers in K-6 contexts
  • Interested community groups, parents and industry representatives within education in engineering fields.


Professional recognition

NESA has recently changed its professional development requirements. Teachers are strongly encouraged to review the NESA website for the latest information.


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