Playhouse modules for children

Janice M. Margle, Kathleen Fadigan

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


This is a work in progress (WIP). It describes a multi-disciplinary project at the Penn State Abington campus. The project brings together freshmen engineering students, pre-service elementary teachers, and preschool children. The playhouse module is an end-of-semester, campus-specific, design project for freshmen engineers enrolled in Penn State's Introductory Engineering Design course (EDSGN 100). As for the pre-service elementary teachers, they are sophomores enrolled in Introductory Field Experience for Teacher Preparation (CI 295). This course, which includes voluntary service work at early childhood education centers, provides the connection between the freshmen engineers and the preschool children. The secret to the success of the Playhouse Modules for Children is four-fold. (1) It is a combination of cardboard boxes. (What youngster doesn't like building a fort or house from cardboard boxes?) (2) It is the freedom to design, build, and embellish a product (a playhouse module made from cardboard). (3) It is having young, "pint-size" clients (the preschool children). And, (4), it is having live, walking, talking, breathing resources (the pre-service teachers) who are at most a year, or two, older than the freshmen engineers. The four secrets to success along with an intimate campus setting appear to level the playing field for the students. Both the freshmen engineers and the pre-service teachers are enrolled in classes at the same Penn State campus, located in the suburban Philadelphia area, and are apt to see each other in passing. A unique element of the Playhouse Modules for Children project is the collaboration between the freshmen engineers and the pre-service elementary education majors. The elementary education students, most of whom are female, receive first-hand knowledge of engineering and the engineering design process, and as a result, receive early exposure to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)1 and engineering practices. Engaging the future elementary teachers in the design process is key to achieving an engineering-literate public in the future. By dispelling stereotypes and educating future teachers, this project aids in promoting engineering across diverse populations at an early age. At the end of the project, the modules designed by the engineers are donated to local early childhood education centers where the pre-service elementary teachers volunteer during the semester. Many of these daycare centers serve urban and low-income communities where the children directly benefit from the playhouse modules generated by this project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 26 2016
Event123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - New Orleans, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2016Jun 29 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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