Master Course Syllabus for EE 406:

Title: Engineering Design for K-12 Outreach

Credits: 3

UW Course Catalog Description:


Design process targeted toward development of relevant activities for K-12 audiences in areas of science and engineering. Instruction in basic design process, design specification combined with an overview of relevant cognitive/social development in K-12.

Coordinator: Denise Wilson, Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering


This course creates a bridge between service learning and engineering by providing a meaningful opportunity to generate at a moderately technical level, designs that are attentive to the audience at hand (a subset of the K-12 community).The engineering design component provides students with an opportunity to focus on design process and on design definitions that are matched to the needs of the audience (customer) through formalized specification procedures. Detailed instruction on the types of audiences (customers) to which specifications should be targeted are provided as part of the course instruction (how children learn, classroom structure, etc). The course also gives the student an opportunity to explore and understand how he/she can be a long term presence in the K-12 community. Exposure (demonstration) to the K-12 community is part of course completion

The course addresses goals of (a) audience/customer-based design experience within (b) an overarching need to communicate a fundamental concept of science or engineering to the K-12 community, while also (c) allowing the student to evaluate broader reaching service opportunities for applying his/her expertise to K-12 in the longer term career.

Objectives: At the end of this course, students will be able to

1.      Formally assess designs of low to moderate complexity using a combination of theoretical analysis, modeling, simulation and experimental results.

2.      Compare and contrast engineering designs within the context of how K-12 students learn.

3.      Effectively communicate undergraduate level concepts (oral) in science and engineering to K-12 audiences.

4.      Apply audience (customer) knowledge to choosing a design from a variety of potential solutions to a (teaching of science/engineering) activity design problem.

5.      Define major phases in cognitive development according to widely accepted theories and recognize the types of problems that can be solved at each stage.

6.      Reflect (in writing) on background reading as it applies to science instruction and activity design.

7.      Lead class discussions effectively.

8.      Work in teams with a blend of knowledge and skills.

9.      Analyze designs for logical formulation of design specifications.

10.  Design a science/engineering activity for a well-defined K-12 population.


Endangered Minds (Healy);

Class notes, supplemental reading from a variety of reference textbooks.

Prerequisites by Topic:

1.      at least one EE3XX course or

2.      Permission of Instructor


1.      Problem formulation/Design Specification - 2 weeks

2.      Case Study: Science Instruction in Washington State (knowing the audience) - 2 weeks

3.      Design Examples: Merging considerations of audience and problem formulation -- 1 week

4.      Basic Cognitive Development Theory (K-16) - 2 weeks

5.      Implications of the Social World to Learning (K-16) -- 1 week

6.      Effect of Modern Media - 2 weeks

Course Structure: The class meets for two lectures a week, each consisting of 80-minutes each or one session of 140 minutes. Weekly reflection assignments emphasize in-depth understanding of the reading assignments. A Design project and bi-monthly milestones (5 total, including oral and written effort) focus on the definition of design specifications in consider of audience and the accurate implementation and delivery of the design.

Computer Resources: Homework and design project preparation/demonstration can be done on a PC.

Grading: Weekly reflections account for approximately 35% of the final grade. Milestones of class (at UW and in K-12 classroom) presentation of design; written report of the design; summary and justification of specifications account for 15% each; Two additional milestones (project proposal and draft report with peer review) account for 10% each.

Laboratory Resources: none required.

Outcome Coverage: This course addresses basic ABET outcomes as follows:

Note: All outcomes not listed below are Low in Coverage.

Coverage Level: Medium (a) an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering. The course requires the development and application of fundamental physical principles (of science and engineering) to the effective design and evaluation of a science/engineering activity for K-12.

Coverage Level: High (c) an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.. Students are required to design a science/engineering activity that meets the needs of a specific K-12 audience at a cognitive level appropriate to the audience.

Coverage Level: High (f) professional and ethical responsibility. Students are asked to assess difficult situations in the K-12 classroom (observed through service learning activities) in the context of their society's code of ethics (typically IEEE). Broader ethical examples (space shuttle) are used to develop and define realistic strategies for adhering to ethical codes in individual choices in the work environment.

Coverage Level: High (g) Ability to communicate effectively. Teams of two to three students are required to work in design teams together, communicating the design in milestones using both oral and written communication. Teams of four to six students also lead and facilitate weekly discussions on the background readings during each class session.

Coverage Level: Medium (j) a knowledge of contemporary issues. Current issues in cognitive development and engineering/science education are emphasized in 60% of the course reading and lecture/discussion material. Student comprehension is evaluated in the weekly reflections (with an emphasis on depth of understanding). .

Preparer: D.M. Wilson

Last revised: 11/19/09