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DCI in Engineering, Technology, and the Application of Science

Table 1 lists the core ideas in Engineering, Technology, and the Application of Science, as well as the defining questions for each DCI. See the framework for more examples and grade band endpoints or the NGSS website for further information.

Table 1 Disciplinary Core Ideas in Engineering, Technology, and the Application of Science
Core Idea Defining Question

ETS1:  Engineering Design

How do engineers solve problems?
ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem What is a design for?
What are the criteria and constraints of a successful solution?
ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions What is the process for developing potential design solutions?
ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution How can the various proposed design solutions be compared and improved?
ETS2: Links Among Engineering, Technology, Science, and Society How are engineering, technology, science, and society interconnected?
ETS2.A: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology What are the relationships among science, engineering, and technology?
ETS2.B: Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World How do science, engineering, and the technologies that result from them
affect the ways in which people live? How do they affect the natural world?

Disciplinary Core Ideas in Engineering, Technology, and the Application of Science

Engineering and technology can be considered to be applications of scientific knowledge. The framework defines technology, engineering, and application of science as follows:

  • An application of science is the use of scientific knowledge for a specific purpose.
  • Technology is any modification of the natural world made to fulfill human needs or desires.
  • Engineering is a systematic approach to design, with a goal of meeting human needs or wants.


Engineering, technology, and applications of science are often interconnected. The process of engineering design can be used to create new technology or applications of science. New scientific discoveries and technologies often have an influence on society and the natural world. According to the framework, students must have an understanding not just of the facts of science, but of the processes of science and how science is utilized.



Image caption

Fig. 1. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers replenishes an Atlantic City beach with sand dredged from the ocean after the beach was eroded by Hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012.

Image copyright and source

Image courtesy by Rosanna Arias from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Marine and aquatic environments have long served as contexts for advances in engineering and technology. For example, from antiquity people have designed and built boats to navigate rivers and cross the ocean. In modern times, ocean engineers are designing solutions to harness the power of the ocean to generate electricity. Ocean engineers also design technologies that allow scientists to further explore the ocean. Technologies are developed to allow people to more efficiently extract resources from the ocean or to live more safely in coastal areas that are prone to natural hazards (Fig. 1). In many cases, there is a need to balance the needs of humans with issues of sustainability.


Activities and Special Features Aligned with Core Ideas in Engineering, Technology and the Application of Science

ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

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Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.