TITLE Teaching Technology in the Elementary School

COURSE DESCRIPTION Planning, developing, implementing and evaluating design/problem-solving activities for elementary school children. Open to any education major including Technology, Elementary and Special Education majors.

COURSE CREDITS AND PREREQUISITES This course will be offered for three credits at the graduate level. The prerequisite for undergraduates is junior status and permission of course instructor. There are no prerequisites for graduate students.

The integrated study of mathematics, science and technology is gaining in popularity and educational significance. Recent national studies have concurred that students need to develop an understanding of technology as a part of their basic literacy. In response, organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science have established several technology related learning outcomes for students at various levels including the elementary level (see Benchmarks for Science Literacy, 1993). These outcomes differ from traditional science outcomes in that they focus on the design and problem-solving process and the impacts of technology.

This elective course is intended to provide students from several different education majors with a better understanding of technology as content, the technological method, and the impacts of technology on society. As with other technology courses, content will be addressed through a series of hands-on activities. These activities will be suitable for use at the elementary level. The unique instructional method will provide elementary and other education majors with ideas about delivering and assessing content through an activity-based approach that includes problem-solving and design activities. Technology education majors who are more familiar with an activitybased approach could also benefit from this course by experiencing elementary level appropriate activities. These activities have traditionally been minimized in the technology teacher preparation curriculum. In the past, this had not been a significant issue since technology education courses were mostly offered at the secondary level. However, with the emergence and growing popularity of the middle school concept, some technology teachers now find themselves teaching students at the fifth and sixth grade levels.

ENROLLMENT LIMITS Due to availability of equipment and the physical nature of the learning activities, enrollment is limited to 24 students per section.

COURSE OBJECTIVES Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to

  1. develop a written rationale and educational objectives for including technology and design/problem solving activities in the elementary school curriculum.
  2. plan, develop, present and evaluate instructional activities that integrate technology and design/problem solving with other elementary school subjects.
  3. utilize a variety of resources (educational technology, information, materials, tools/machines) safely and efficiently.
  4. develop plans for implementing technological activities in an elementary school setting including the physical layout of the classroom, suggested equipment, sources of supply, storage and safety considerations.
  5. discuss curriculum materials and standards which describe or deal with technology, math, science, communication, and social studies at various grade levels in the elementary school.
  6. critique elementary school/technology associations and publications, including papers on program philosophy, curriculum and management.
  7. discuss technology related programs and contests (Duracell, Toshiba, Odyssey of the Mind [OK) designed for use at the elementary school level.

COURSE OUTLINE A. An Introduction to Technology

  1. Methods
  2. Universal systems model
  3. Instructional strategies
  4. Resources
  5. Roles
  6. Relationship between science and technology

B. Implications for Instructional Strategies

  1. Traditional

  2. Interdisciplinary study

  3. Cooperative learning

  4. Problem solving

  5. Integrated learning

    1. Designing integrated learning activities

    2. Presenting integrated learning activities

    3. Evaluating Integrated learning activities

C. Technology as Content

  1. Construction Systems a. Building structures

    1. Types of structures
    2. Construction methods
    3. Careers in construction
  2. Manufacturing Systems a. Production of goods

    1. Jigs
    2. Fixtures
    3. Molds
    4. Patterns
    5. Organizational structure
    6. Careers in manufacturing
  3. Communication Systems

    1. Encoding information

    2. Transmitting information

    3. Receiving information

    4. Storing information

    5. Retrieving information

    6. Decoding information

    7. Careers in communication

  4. Energy, Power, Transportation (EPT) Systems

    1. Potential energy

    2. Kinetic energy

    3. Electrical power

    4. Mechanical power

    5. Fluid power

    6. Land transportation

    7. Sea transportation

    8. Space transportation

    9. Air transportation

    10. Careers in EPT

  5. Biological Systems

    1. Human advancements (human-to-human and animal-to-human transplants)

    2. Agricultural advancements (genetically engineered food)

D. Designing/Maintaining Instructional Facilities

  1. Self-contained classroom
  2. Technology resource room
  3. Consultants
  4. Field trips
  5. Cooperative arrangements


A. Completion of a Series of Planned Technology Activities
Complete a series of hands-on technology activities to learn about technological content. These activities focus around the physical, information and biotechnologies. Examples include:

EPT gearing and mechanisms Slo-Car Competition
EPT basic electrical circuits Light-It-Up
EPT liquids and gases under pressure The Stuck Truck
Construction structural stability and integrity Paper Tower Structures
Communication computer programming languages Programming a Robot in Logo
Communication numerical encoding systems An Intro. to Binary Coded Decimal (BCD) Signals
Communication multiplexing Multiple Conversations
Biorelated ergonomics Design a Better .....
Biorelated agricultural engineering Plant Growing Activity

B. Design Four Technology Learning Activities (TLAs) for Classroom Use
Develop activities organized around technological content (physical, information, or biological) for use at the elementary level. At least one TLA should address a physical technology. A second activity should address an information technology, and a third should address a biorelated technology. Students may select a fourth TLA for development to address the technological content area of their choice. In the course of TLA development, students will Consult Project 2061 Benchmarks and PA state standards for applicable standards in mathematics, science and technology, and create a matrix to indicate which benchmarks and standards are addressed by each activity. Students are also required to create a rubric for evaluating solutions to each technology activity.

C. Class Participation
Students are expected to attend and participate in all scheduled sessions and/or appointments. If you have an emergency that prevents you from attending class, coming late to class or if you must leave class early, please inform instructor ASAP. Many of the activities completed within this course require group participation. Therefore, attendance is critical. University policy will be followed concerning absences.

D. Midterm and Final Examination
All students will complete a midterm examination and a comprehensive final examination.

E. Journal or Magazine Article
All students enrolled in this course will write an article of 10,000 words maximum that focuses around an elementary technology activity. This article will be submitted to an appropriate journal or magazine for publication consideration.

TLA 1 50 points
TLA 2 50 points
TLA 3 50 points
TLA 4 50 points
Journal Article 200 points
Participatory activities 200 points
Class participation 100 points
Classroom lesson 150 points
Final exam 150 points
  1000 points
Grade Points Needed
A 900-1000
B 800-899
C 700-799
Less than 700 = failure  


Several faculty in the Department of Industry and Technology are qualified to teach this course. Most of the equipment and supplies necessary to teach the course already exist in Osburn Hall. A one-time allocation of approximately $2,000 would be helpful to start the course. Beyond the initial start-up costs, a few hundred dollars per year would probably be necessary to replenish consumable materials and occasionally purchase some new or replacement items.


Bottrill, P. (1995). Design and learning in the elementary school. Reston, VA: International Technology Education Association.

Due to the activity-based nature of the course, a classroom supplement would also be required.


TSA's Great Technology AdventureTM - This interdisciplinary program, from the national Technology Student Association, adapts easily into the elementary classroom and curriculum. An Activity Guide contains a complete process for implementing a viable design and technology component to elementary classes. Also, a set of thematic design briefs is provided to actively engage students in science, math, language arts, social studies and related disciplines. National challenges, awards, newsletters and technology pen pals provide a wealth of resources for elementary teachers and students in grades K-(Technology Student Association, 1914 Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091; phone 703-860-9000; fax 703758-4852)

A World In Motion - A box of materials, from the Society of Automotive Engineers, to be used by teachers and volunteer engineers to encourage a sense of wonder and excitement about hands-on science, mathematics engineering and technology. A World in Motion promotes volunteerism and education partnerships between companies and schools. Teacher-Directed Learning Cards are provided for three levels or grades. They are well illustrated and list materials needed for students to follow the sequence. A videotape, posters, and teacher's guides are packaged in a single box with the learning CDs. (Society of Automotive Engineers, Warrendale, PA)

Invent America - Students are challenged to use their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to create new products they think will solve a problem in the home, school, or community. Students use all of the basic skills during the invention process by thinking, creating drawing, writing logs or advertisements and building models of their inventions. Invention Conventions are held for local schools in May, with regional and national competitions in June or July. (Invent America, U.S. Patent Model Foundation, 510 King Street Suite 420, Alexandria, VA 22314)

Mission 21- Organized into three elementary levels, Mission 21 includes a Teacher's Resource Book, and four student books are provided for each level. Students learn about technology and other subjects by reading the student books, then solve design briefs that promote curriculum integration. (Thomson Learning TOOLS, 5101 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45227; phone 800-354-9706; fax 800-487-8488)


American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1993). Benchmarks for science literacy. Washington, DC: Author.

Belch, H (1994). Technotown: A LEGO Experience. The Technology Teacher, 54 (1).

Britz, J., & Richard, N. (1992). Problem solving in the early childhood classroom. Washington, DC. National Education Association.

Brooks, J., & Brooks, M. (1993). In search of understanding - The case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Dunn, S., & Larson, R. (1990). Design technology: Children's engineering. New York: The Falmer Press.

Elementary School Technology Education (Kirkwood, J., & Foster, P., Eds.). (1997). 46th yearbook of the Council on Technology Teacher Education. New York. Glencoe-McGraw Hill.

International Technology Education Association. Technology & children: A journal for elementary school technology education Reston, VA: Author.

PA Department of Education (1995). Science and technology curriculum framework for Pennsylvania. Harrisburg, PA: PA Department of Education.

Savage, E., Rossner, A. G., & Finke, G. D. (1993). Biorelated technology, Albany, New York: Delmar Press.

Technology Education Association of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Department of Education. (1988). Technology education in Pennaylvania: Program guide. K-12. Harrisburg PA: Author.

Technology Education Association of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Department of Education. (1994). Technology education in Pennsylvania: Middle level performance-based implementation guide. Harrisburg, PA. Author.

Technology Education Association of Pennsylvania. (1995). Technology education: A high school level performance-based curriculum implementation guide for Pennsylvania Harrisburg PA. Author.

US. Department of Labor. (1991). What work requires of schools: A SCANS report for America 200Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.