The Vis Te Project: Visualization For Improved Technological And Scientific Literacy


Visualization in Technology Education (VisTE) is a standards-based initiative designed to promote the use of graphic visualization among grade 8-12 students to improve their higher order thinking, communication skills, and understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics. By using simple and complex visualization tools, students can conduct research, analyze, solve problems, and communicate major topics identified in the new ITEA Standards for Technological Literacy (STL) as well as topics aligned with national mathematics and science standards. Unfortunately, rigorously tested instructional materials to support such activities do not yet exist. Over three years, the project team will develop 12 discrete units. Units will encompass areas such as biotechnology, medical technology, communications, transportation, power & energy, and construction. While the curriculum is not developed for the post-secondary level, it is expected to have an impact on the students’ understanding of key technologies and their ability to apply graphic communication tools in the exploration and conveyance of technology and engineering concepts. This presentation will provide an overview of the project. I. Background On April 2000, the International Technology Education Association (ITEA) reported in a document titled Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology that America’s students urgently need to develop a deeper knowledge of the nature, creation, and potentials of technology and its symbiotic role in human society, as well as develop a broader range of technological skills 1 . The Technology for All Americans Project, a branch of the ITEA that helped create the Standards for Technological Literacy (STL), issued a “call to action” to a variety of stakeholders to help cultivate technological literacy and to recognize technology education as an essential core field of study in our nation’s secondary schools. Toward this end, it has also called for the creation and/or modification of a variety of instructional materials to better reflect the new standards. The Visualization in Technology Education (VisTE) project presented in this paper addresses this need by developing materials that will enhance the technology education curriculum. These materials provide activities requiring students’ use of graphic communication tools to convey scientific and technical data that are aligned with the Standards for Technological Literacy (STL), along with secondary mathematics and science curriculum development standards. The earliest efforts by project investigators to use computer graphics visualization in technology education began with the development of a post-secondary course in scientific visualization for undergraduate engineering and science students 2 . Later activities in revising NC’s secondary technical graphics curriculum led investigators to believe that computer graphics literacy could play a key role in vocational and technical education reform. Since 1995, the project investigators, with the assistance of Carl Perkins federal funds and in partnership with the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), several school systems, and a leading community college, have developed and piloted similar materials through the development of a two-year high