This narrative essay describes a project in an urban sixth grade science class that began as an effort to link civic engagement with disciplinary learning in chemistry. The ways in which students took up this project prompted the authors to see urban infrastructures as engineered sites of learning with world-making possibilities. By interrogating the ways in which science and engineering practices are imbued with values and happen in places, teachers can engage young learners in critical examinations of their built worlds. The authors argue that there is an opportunity in K-8 engineering education to avoid reproducing some of the pathologies of (post)secondary STEM education by making the ethical and political dimensions of the STEM enterprise explicit. In fact, elementary school teachers’ ability to prioritize the whole child over disciplinary norms may allow them to engage students in realistic assessments of the built world while also imagining hopeful present-futures.
Frausto Aceves, A.,
More than civil engineering and civic reasoning: World-building in middle school STEM.
Occasional Paper Series,