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4 Schools For Women In Engineering Innovative Approaches To Increase Middle School Students' Interest In Stem

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Outreach: Future Women in Engineering II

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.6.1 - 9.6.10



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Paper Authors

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Peter Wong

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Stephanie Blaisdell

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Paula Leventman

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Anna Swan

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Katherine Ziemer

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Rachelle Reisberg

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3592

4 Schools for Women in Engineering Innovative Approaches to Increase Middle School Students Interest in STEM

Rachelle Reisberg1, Paula Leventman1, Katherine Ziemer1, Stephanie Blaisdell2, Anna Swan3, Peter Wong4

Northeastern University1 / Worcester Polytechnic Institute2 / Boston University3 / Tufts University4


Four colleges - Northeastern University (NU), Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Boston University (BU), and Tufts University (Tufts) - are collaborating to introduce engineering to middle schools. Models are being developed to demonstrate concepts that encourage girls and boys to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Each primarily female team includes engineering faculty, middle school teachers, industry volunteers, and undergraduate students. Teams are creating flexible curriculum activities that are classroom tested and documented for national dissemination.

Funded by a three-year NSF grant (HRD GSE 0217110), the collaboration is in its second year. Pilots are underway with assessment points to incorporate lessons learned from classroom testing. Each team selected different concepts to develop:

- NU’s project has students using basic science concepts and the 8 steps of the engineering design process to design and test an orange juice concentration unit. Students are challenged to provide good-tasting orange juice to Boston Schools for $0.15 a glass.

- BU’s project involves genetic coding and decoding. The connection between the codes of the DNA building blocks in genes and physical traits are stressed. Students do hands-on gene manipulation to make bacteria fluoresce and create physical models of DNA/RNA to code and decode genetic traits.

- Tufts’ project introduces the concept of number systems and the language of computers (binary). Once students are familiar with patterns of 1’s and 0’s, decoder boxes are distributed and students map binary patterns to letters of the alphabet. Students flip switches and see light patterns that enable decoding of messages. Prototype decoders with unique messages have been built for classroom testing.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Wong, P., & Blaisdell, S., & Leventman, P., & Swan, A., & Ziemer, K., & Reisberg, R. (2004, June), 4 Schools For Women In Engineering Innovative Approaches To Increase Middle School Students' Interest In Stem Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--12975

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