Although humans make the majority of the objects we interact with and use during our day-to-day lives, the current school science curriculum focuses very little on how our designed world is made. Dr. Ioannis Miaoulis, president and director of the Boston Museum of Science, is an advocate of including engineering in the formal science curriculum and has worked with educators and legislators on the state and national level to design a new national standard for the K-12 science curriculum.
Speaking at McNeese State University just one day after testifying before a congressional committee on the importance of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, disciplines, Miaoulis said, "We are immersed in technologies from the moment we wake up until we lie down to sleep. Students spend years in school learning about the scientific inquiry process but they learn very little about the engineering design process, which is responsible for most things that support their day-to-day lives."
He added, "The computers, cars, medical devices and pharmaceuticals, buildings we use, homes we live in and streets we drive on are all the results of the engineering design process. Incorporating engineering into the science curriculum makes all disciplines engaging for all students and all types of learners."
Miaoulis helped to establish the National Center for Technological Literacy that is dedicated to promoting technological literacy and understanding of engineering.
He is a member of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's Commonwealth Readiness Project Leadership Council and the governor's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Advisory Council. Prior to joining the Boston Museum of Science, he was the dean of the school of engineering and professor of mechanical engineering at Tufts University.
In 2001 Massachusetts became the first education system in the nation to adopt a K-12 curriculum framework and assessments for engineering and technology that were developed by Miaoulis.
An increasing number of states now include the engineering process and the nature of key technologies in their learning standards. Miaoulis believes that introducing engineering as the new discipline into the science curriculum offers a wonderful project-based learning vehicle for the entire K-12 spectrum that not only brings to life mathematics and the sciences but also connects them with social studies, language and the arts.
During his tenure at Tufts University, Miaoulis originated practical engineering courses that engaged students' interests and greatly increased the number of female students studying engineering, and he designed collaborative programs with industry.
"Louisiana is considering adopting the new national standards," he said, "and McNeese has a strong college of engineering that can be a tremendous resource to science teachers. McNeese can play a critical role by providing professional development opportunities for teachers and by having engineering students interact with science teachers and students."
According to Miaoulis, introducing engineering into the K-12 curriculum is critical because engineering design skills and concepts engage students in using their math and science knowledge to solve real problems and create new technologies. "Until now, school curricula have focused more on the natural world, not the technological one. But it is the technological, or human-made, world that facilitates 95 percent of our daily experience."
Miaoulis said, "My goal is to have every child in every school in the United States learn about the human-made world and to have an understanding of the engineering process that we follow to create the human-made world by 2015."