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World in Motion of the Society of Automotive Engineers

Key Features

A World in Motion and A World in Motion II are two programs developed under the leadership of the Society of Automotive Engineers that are designed to enable teachers, supported by engineers, scientists, and other technical professionals, to give students in grades 4-6 and 7-8 respectively hands-on inquiry-based experiences in which they learn about certain physical principles. In AWIM II especially, they also learn about the many aspects and challenges of engineering design.

Because engineering bridges the gap between pure science and the "real world", the students in A World in Motion II become familiar with its many strands: science, technology, planning, design, making presentations, marketing, etc. The programs are thus truly interdisciplinary, involving the academic disciplines of science, mathematics, technology, social studies, and language arts.

The educational experiences provided by the instructional materials and led by teachers benefit from the presence of volunteer technical professionals who can make one-time visits, can play a more frequent consulting role, or can even become mentors in the classroom.

In the elementary-school program, there is a partnership between a teacher and a volunteer. In the middle-school program, the partnership is established between school administrators, and a business or organization. In both cases, the partnership is a valuable feature and is key to the success of the program.

Becoming Involved

The two programs offer volunteer engineers, scientists, and other technical professionals who wish to become involved in science and technology education, grades 4-8, a direct path into the classroom that doesn't require the presence of either local systemic reform, an organizational structure provided by some national program, or a local organization willing to support extensive involvement in the schools, as do most of the other Example Programs described at this Website. As such, it can be (and often has been) the initial involvement for many scientists and engineers who want to "test the waters".


Goals. The goals of these two programs are 1) to educate children about certain physical principles, 2) to introduce them to the nature of engineering design and the excitement that its challenges can generate through teamwork, 3) to provide interdisciplinary learning opportunities for students, and 4) to involve engineers, scientists, and other technical professionals and their employing organizations in support of scientific and technical education in grades 4-8.

Strategy and Scope. These two programs are designed to teach children in grades 4-6 and 7-8 about certain physical problems and many aspects of engineering design. To accomplish these goals, engineers, scientists, and other professionals go into the classroom in support of teachers who are using these materials. These professionals are usually supported by their employing organizations or other interested organizations. More than 33,000 elementary-grade kits have been distributed, while the middle-school kits are, less than a year after their publication, spreading rapidly to middle-school classrooms.

Learning Experiences for Grades 4-6. A World in Motion is a set of three science-based engineering problems for grades 4, 5, and 6, each problem taking 2-3 weeks. They are taught by classroom teachers, usually in partnership with engineers from their local communities. It is an example of a way in which engineers (or other technical professionals) with a desire to support elementary science and technology education but no experience can, on their own, take a first step into a classroom.


Learning Experiences for Grades 7 and 8. A World in Motion II is intended to be a set of two rather complex engineering design challenges for grades 7 and 8. Each unit takes about 8 weeks and involves science, technology, social studies, and language arts. The grade-7 challenge became available in the fall of 1996, and the grade-8 challenge is expected to appear during the fall of 1997. For each of these challenges, local professionals contribute to the students' understanding of the engineering design experience. The involvement of these professionals reflects a partnership between their employer or an organization with which they are associated and the school or school system.


Funding. The development and field testing of A World in Motion II was financed by grants from the National Science Foundation. The publication and dissemination of both sets of materials is financed by the SAE Foundation (an organization to which both businesses and individuals in the many areas related to mobility on land, sea, air, or space contribute).

Organizational Information. The Society of Automotive Engineers is a professional society of more than 71,000 members and 55 local sections in North America. Its membership includes a wide range of technical professionals related to land, sea, air, and space vehicles.


Contact Information. Further information about A World in Motion and A World in Motion II can be obtained from

World in Motion
Society of Automotive Engineers
400 Commonwealth Drive
Warrendale, PA 15096-0001

Phone: 412-772-8513

FAX: 412-776-2103


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