Engineering Imagination with Ideation


This paper explores the components and efficacy of an engineering-based Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program with a focus on ideation.  Leveraging the imaginative and iterative elements of the ideation process, participants engaged in inquiry exploring energy harvesting and novel sensor technology.  In modeling the ideation methodology, participants were more engaged in authentic research, which subsequently fostered the creation of novel lesson plans extending beyond the classroom.  The importance of research-based, STEM- based RET experiences are a critical feature of bolstering teacher content and pedagogical skills while embedding features of student-centered elements such as creativity and imagination.  During the following school year, participating teachers created an inter-district competition designing Ebolavirus sensors using the One Health framework introduced in the summer research experience program.  An example of a student product is provided.  A discussion of alignment to science curriculum standards as well as the need of these programs are also discussed.


STEM, 6-12, RET programs, Ideation

Full Text:



Andersen, L., & Ward, T.J. (2013). Expectancy-Value Models for the STEM Persistence Plans of Ninth-Grade, High-Ability Students: A Comparison between Black, Hispanic, and White Students. Science Education, n/a-n/a. doi: 10.1002/sce.21092

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2015). Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease). Retrieved from

Donath, L., Spray, R., Thompson, N.S., Alford, E.M., Craig, N., & Matthews, M.A. (2005). Characterizing discourse among undergraduate researchers in an inquiry-based community of practice. Journal of Engineering Education, 94, 403-417.

Dresner, M., & Worley E. (2006). Teacher Research Experiences, Partnerships with Scientists, and Teacher Networks Sustaining Factors from Professional Development. Journal of Science Teacher Education 17(1), 1-14. doi: 10.1007/s10972-005-9000-5

Emerging and Reemerging Infections [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from:

Employee engagement strategies in ‘STEM’ workplaces spark creativity. (2014). PR News, 70(1) Retrieved from

Engineering Design in the NGSS. [Image]. (2013). Retrieved from

Haik, Y. (2003). Engineering Design Process. South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Thomson/Brooks/Cole.

Haik, Y & Shahin, T. (Authors). (2003). Ideation Process. [Image]. Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning.

Hazari, Z., Tai, R.H., & Sadler, P.M. (2007). Gender differences in introductory university physics performance: The influence of high school physics preparation and affective factors. Science Education, 91(6), 847-876.

Hernandez, N.V., Shah, J.J., & Smith, S.M. (2010). Understanding design ideation mechanisms through multilevel aligned empirical studies. Design Studies, 31(4), 382–410.

Hite, R. (Author). (2015). One Health Sensor Judging and/or Scoring Rubric. [Image].

Johnson, C.C. (2013). Conceptualizing Integrated STEM Education. School Science and Mathematics, 113(8), 367 – 368.

Katehi, L., Pearson, G., & Feder, M. (2009). The Status and Nature of K–12 Engineering Education in the United States. The National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved from

Koro-Ljungberg, M., & Douglas, E.P. (2008). State of Qualitative research in Engineering Education: Meta-Analysis of JEE Articles, 2005-2006. Journal of Engineering Education, 97(2), 163-175.

Maltese, A. & Tai, R. (2010). Pipeline Persistence: Examining the Association of Educational Experiences with Earned Degrees in STEM among U.S. Students. Science Education, 95(5), 877-907. doi: 10.1002/sce.20441

Maxwell, H. (Photographer). (2015). Student work of an Ebolavirus Sensor. [Photograph].

Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Advanced Self-powered systems of integrated sensors and technologies. (Photographer). (2014). Participating Teachers Engaging in the Ideation Process. [Photograph].

Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Advanced Self-powered systems of integrated sensors and technologies. (Photographer). (2014). The Ideation Process in Action. [Photograph].

National Resource Council (NRC). 2012. A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington, DC: National Academics Press.

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). (2013). APPENDIX I – Engineering Design in the NGSS. Retrieved from

Nielsen, K.H. (2012). Scientific Communication and the Nature of Science. Science & Education, 22(9), 2067-2086.

One Health Initiative. (n.d.). About One Health. Retrieved from

One Health Sweden [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from:

Pop, M., Dixon, P., & Grove C. (2010). Research Experiences for Teachers (RET): Motivation, Expectations, and Changes to Teaching Practices due to Professional Program Involvement. Journal of Science Teacher Education 21(2), 127-147.

Roehrig, G.H., Moore, T.J., Wang, H.H., & Park, M.S. (2012). Is adding the E enough? Investigating the impact of K-12 engineering standards on the implantation of STEM integration. School Science and Mathematics, 112(1), 31-44.

Schweitzer, F., Gassmann, O., & Rau, C. (2014). Lessons from Ideation: Where Does User Involvement Lead Us? Creativity and Innovation Management, 23(2) 155-167.

Scott, R. (1990). Stimulating Students’ Design Creativity, Journal of Engineering Design, 1(3), 279-288.