2021 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Engineering Design in Scientific Inquiry (EDISIn): Material Affordances in a Physics Lab

Document Type

Student Presentation


Media is loading

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Leslie Atkins Elliott


Engineering education requirements are new additions to the national K-12 science curriculum. Although science and engineering are often grouped together in an education context, these two practices are not identical. Implementing engineering and science content concurrently has been a challenge for educators. To address this problem, we need to know how engineering authentically emerges in a science class. Our study objective is to notice how material affordances influence the emergence of engineering and design practices in a science lab. There are a range of design choices students must make in designing an experiment; many of these are deeply related to the scientific ideas they are developing. By examining student material use and design, we can understand when generative student engineering is taking place. We observed students in an undergraduate inquiry-based physics lab to investigate how student material use and design influences their scientific thinking. We found that when students are allowed agency over material use, they are likely to engage in engineering practices. When students design experiments, they design science ideas. Implementing engineering practices in a physics lab adds both breadth and depth to student understanding of science concepts.

This document is currently not available here.