Introducing students to engineering concepts in early education is critical, as literature has shown that students’ degree of comfort and acceptance of science and technology is developed very early on in their education. While introducing engineering as a potential profession in K-12 classrooms has its own merits, it has also proven itself to be useful as a teaching tool. Engineering can lend itself to concepts that can engage students in critical thinking, problem solving, as well as the development of math and science skills. In engineering higher education there has been an increased focus on industrial ecology and sustainability in order to help students understand the environmental and social context within today’s society. The authors of this paper discuss the importance of these attributes when introducing engineering to K-12 students. Engineering and sustainability are not two mutually exclusive concepts, but sustainability should be considered throughout the practice of the engineering discipline. The ADEPT (Applied Design Engineering Project Teams) program at the University of California, Berkeley was established to design and deploy a standards-based engineering curriculum for middle schools and high schools (grades 6–12) designed to integrate mathematics and science concepts in applied engineering projects, inspire secondary students, and strengthen the classroom experience of current and future faculty in math, science, and engineering. This paper discusses the importance of introducing engineering and sustainability in K-12 classrooms. Example modules that were developed through the ADEPT program are presented as well as a set of recommendations that were designed as a guideline for educators to incorporate engineering and sustainability in K-12 classrooms. While the module discussed here was designed for middle school students, the curriculum and criteria recommended can be adapted to primary and secondary education programs.

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