Integrating algebra and engineering in the middle school classroom

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

Publication Date



The Building Math curricula project was originally titled "Integrating Algebra and Engineering in the Classroom." It resulted in the development of three middle school instructional units that uniquely integrates inquiry-based mathematics investigations and engineering design challenges. The engineering design challenges provide meaningful and engaging contexts to learn and use mathematics, and to develop students' teamwork, communication, and manual skills. The mathematics investigations yield useful results to help students make informed design decisions. In particular, special focus was given to the development and use of algebraic reasoning. This paper seeks to answer the questions: "What algebraic learning is evidenced in the student work and classroom videos collected in the pilot studies?" and "How was the engineering design is informed by the mathematics research phase of design challenge?" The major finding claims that when engaged in Building Math design challenges, middle school student at different grade levels use algebraic reasoning when analyzing changing rates of an exponential function, interpret slope in a meaningful context, and use a mathematical model to make reasonable predictions. They then use this understanding to inform their engineering designs to meet the criteria and constraints of the challenge. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2008.



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