Kristen Wendell

Professional Title
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Education
About Me (Bio)
I am Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Education at Tufts University, where I lead a research group at the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach. Our research efforts focus on supporting discourse and design practices during K-12, teacher education, and college engineering learning experiences, and on integrating engineering into the elementary school experience. Current NSF-supported projects emphasize urban settings and community-based engineering approaches. I received a Ph.D. in Science Education from Tufts, where I developed and studied an engineering-design-based science curriculum for elementary students, and an M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics (aerospace engineering) from MIT, where I studied advanced spacesuit design at the Man-Vehicle Lab. I earned my undergraduate degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University. In 2016 I was a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).
TERC, Inc.

This project builds capacity for middle school teachers to enact and adapt integrated STEM curriculum units with their students. The units will focus on biomimicryexamining structures and functions found in nature and applying these to solve human problems, which combines science, engineering, and technology. The project enables teachers to design activities that are personally authentic to their students by supporting teachers to examine their students' assets, needs, and interests and center these during unit design.

Tufts University

This is a Faculty Early Career Development project aimed at developing, implementing, and assessing a model that introduces novice elementary school teachers to community-based engineering design as a strategy for teaching and learning in urban schools. Reflective of the new Framework for K-12 Science Education, the model addresses key crosscutting concepts, disciplinary core ideas, and scientific and engineering practices. It builds on theoretical perspectives and empirical foundations, including situated learning, engineering design cognition, and children's resources and funds of knowledge, including cultural and linguistic diversity.

Tufts University

This project explores how classroom conversations can engage children in making sense of the problems that they are addressing and foregrounding ethics while making design decisions. To provide children with opportunities to engage in rich classroom conversations, the project team uses a community-based engineering curricular approach, where students address problems that affect their local school communities.

Tufts University

This project will develop, enact, and study a critical climate technology journalism curriculum to support multilingual sixth grade students’ knowledge and practices in engineering. Synthesizing expertise in climate technology, communication, and multilingual education, the project will engage students in investigating, designing, and communicating critical engineering knowledge about community-based technological systems. Students will learn engineering as they construct and convey messages about climate technology in their community for an audience of family members, community groups, and civic leaders.

University of Massachusetts, Boston (UMass Boston)

This collaborative, exploratory, learning strand project focuses on improving reflective decision-making among elementary school students during the planning and re-design activities of the engineering design process. Five teacher researchers in three elementary schools provide the classroom laboratories for the study. Specified units from Engineering is Elementary, a well-studied curriculum, provide the engineering content.