Stem embedded in the dujiangyan irrigation system: A descriptive-interpretive analysis to design stem course

Jon Chao Hong, Jian Hong Ye*, Ya Jiuan Ho, Ya Jun Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


STEM (science, technol-ogy, engineering, and mathematics) education is recognized as the world’s top education program. However, few STEM programs have been designed based on cultural-historical events. To explore this issue, the present study drew on the cultural-historical activity theory and the content analysis method by adopting the descriptive-interpretative approach to explore the STEM content of the Dujiang-yan Irrigation System (DIS) in present-day Sichuan, China. As early as 2,275 years ago during the Warring States period, Li Bing, the governor of Shu Shire in the Qin state, implicitly implemented the STEM concept when building the irrigation system. The results of this study indicate that the DIS incorporates Science (e.g., the hydraulic principle), Technology (e.g., making a large cobblestone Bamboo-Cage for building Fish Mouth), Engineering (e.g., water-level measurement) and Mathematics (e.g., Calculation of sand discharge). Adopting an educational pedagogy proposed by UN-ESCO which emphasized learning concepts from daily life, the present study draws on a cultural-historical event to inform STEM learning. The method and results of this study can be applied in the design of STEM programs based on other cultural-historical events from around the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764-779
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Baltic Science Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Cultural-historical activity theory
  • Dujiangyan
  • Hydraulic engineering
  • Interdisciplinary knowledge
  • STEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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