Future Cities Engineering: Early Engineering Interventions in the Middle Grades


This paper describes qualitative and quantitative research conducted with middle school students participating in a Future Cities Engineering course. Insights were sought regarding both affective and cognitive changes which transpired during the one-semester schedule of activities focused on modeling the infrastructure of a city built 150 years in the future. Modeling activities consisted of both a computer simulation, SimCity 3000 Unlimited, and the construction of a physical scale model depicting student visions. To determine the efficacy of SimCity in serving as a realistic modeling tool, the software was “ground-truthed” by comparing Sim dimensions to the dimensions of analogous objects (roads, water pipes) in the real world. An age-appropriate attitude survey was developed and administered with the goal of measuring student disposition towards the engineering profession. Additionally, a multiple-choice content test was developed and administered both pre and post instruction to obtain a quantifiable measure of student learning. Findings show that student participation in such a course can lay favorable foundations for appreciation of and participation in the engineering profession.


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The Alexander Dawson School
Las Vegas, Nevada

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada

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