Teachers gain new knowledge about the Engineering Design Process, Engineering Habits of Mind, Inquiry Education, Project Based Instruction, and Integrated STEM education. They apply their understanding by engaging in a project-based challenge to design and construct a thermally efficient model house using the engineering design process.


Professional Development-Day 1
Participants engage with the notion of the Urban Heat Island phenomenon through exploratory activities, class discussions and interactive activities. discussions illustrate the differences between natural and built objects, while the interactive activities such as photographing natural and built objects around the school and identifying city changes by comparing historical aerial photographs, allow teachers to observe and understand how their environment came to be.

Participants engage in experiments to explore temperature differences in local geography (e.g., grass, soil, concrete, parking lot surface, shaded and un-shaded areas), insulation efficiency of building materials (e.g., cotton, bubble-wrap, shredded paper, and packing peanuts), and heat absorption of various color schemes.

Participants utilize experiences and knowledge gained from previous experiments to design and build a model house. The design challenge requires the model house to maintain an acceptable temperature difference while sitting in the summer sun for a given amount of time.

Professional Development-Day 2
Introduce participants to the Engineering Design process, the Engineering Habits of Mind, and Project-based learning as a means of providing middle school students opportunities to engage with inquiry-based learning and problem-solving techniques within integrated STEM education. Participants also explore inquiry project-based tools such as the Driving Question Board, the Learning Cycle and the 5 E's lesson plan as they apply to the Urban Heat Island challenge from Day 1. Participants are placed in integrated teams, consisting of science, math and social studies teachers, and utilize gained knowledge to develop lesson plans to engage students with a project-based learning experience to be offered over two-class periods or two block periods.

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