The Next Generation Science Standards define engineering as "....any engagement in a systematic practice of design to achieve solutions to particular human problems."  AREN encourages participants to ask scientific questions and to define problems that can be solved. Problems that can be solved may include reengineering AREN technology.  Problems that can be solved may also include designing various instruments, to learn more about our earth.

Excerpt from Appendix I of the Next Generation Science Standards -- Engineering Design in the NGSS

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) represent a commitment to integrate engineering design into the structure of science education by raising engineering design to the same level as scientific inquiry when teaching science disciplines at all levels, from kindergarten to grade 12. There are both practical and inspirational reasons for including engineering design as an essential element of science education. 

We anticipate that the insights gained and interests provoked from studying and engaging in the practices of science and engineering during their K-12 schooling should help students see how science and engineering are instrumental in addressing major challenges that confront society today, such as generating sufficient energy, preventing and treating diseases, maintaining supplies of clean water and food, and solving the problems of global environmental change. (NRC 2012, p. 9). 

Providing students a foundation in engineering design allows them to better engage in and aspire to solve the major societal and environmental challenges they will face in the decades ahead. 

Key Definitions 

One of the problems of prior standards has been the lack of clear and consistent definitions of the terms science, engineering, and technology. A Framework for K-12 Science Education has defined these terms as follows: 

In the K–12 context, “science” is generally taken to mean the traditional natural sciences: physics, chemistry, biology, and (more recently) earth, space, and environmental sciences . . . . We use the term “engineering” in a very broad sense to mean any engagement in a systematic practice of design to achieve solutions to particular human problems. Likewise, we broadly use the term “technology” to include all types of human-made systems and processesnot in the limited sense often used in schools that equates technology with modern computational and communications devices. Technologies result when engineers apply their understanding of the natural world and of human behavior to design ways to satisfy human needs and wants. (NRC 2012, p. 11-12) 

The Framework’s definitions address two common misconceptions. The first is that engineering design is not just applied science. As described in Appendix F: Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS, the practices of engineering have much in common with the practices of science, although engineering design has a different purpose and product than scientific inquiry. The second misconception is that technology describes all the ways that people have modified the natural world to meet their needs and wants. Technology does not just refer to computers or electronic devices. 

The purpose of defining “engineering” more broadly in the Framework and NGSS is to emphasize engineering design practices that all citizens should learn. For example, students are expected to be able to define problemssituations that people wish to changeby specifying criteria and constraints for acceptable solutions; generating and evaluating multiple solutions; building and testing prototypes; and optimizing a solution. These practices have not been explicitly included in science standards until now.