June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.47.1 - 14.47.6
A Materials Outreach Program Developed by MSE Undergraduates for Junior High Students Focused on Grade Level Expectations
The Material Advantage chapter at Washington State University has developed a teaching toolkit to address materials related topics for students at the 7th and 8th grade levels in the state of Washington. The students in the chapter surveyed junior high school science teachers in regards to topics they had difficulty in addressing in classes. Density, magnetism, and electrical conductivity were three topics noted, of which demonstrating and teaching density of materials was noted by most of the teachers. To address these needs the students chose to develop a set of materials that could be distributed in a “kit” format to teachers for use in class demonstrations. These kits, developed as part of an informal chapter outreach activity, consist of ten materials of varying density, and include materials with different magnetic, electrical and optical properties. In addition to the ten identically sized materials (cylindrical rods), a graduated cylinder, an electrical conductivity tester, and a magnet are included in the kit. An accompanying worksheet prompts the junior high school students to separate the materials using the properties noted above, and gives example applications of each type of material. This paper documents the activities and pilot scale distribution of the kits by the student participants.
The state of Washington addresses the educational needs of students through a set of standards referred to as Essential Academic Learning Requirements, which include specific goals and targets for each grade level. At each grade level, the Grade Level Expectations (GLEs) specify a core of conceptual knowledge and abilities that students should achieve by that grade; they are not meant to detail teaching methodologies or test specifications, though they do constrain the content of statewide testing. As such, they are the subject of significant attention by teachers in the K-12 system in the state.
Engineering outreach in general is a very active area of experimentation. One only needs to examine the myriad of engineering outreach programs across the country1 to realize that there is no “silver bullet” type activity. Within the Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) community there are several established methods of K-12 outreach2,3. The student chapter of Material Advantage at Washington State University, the organization representing four of the largest professional MSE societies (ASM International, TMS, AIST, and ACerS), has previously carried out various K-12 outreach programs ranging from undergraduates visiting high schools to present a one hour seminar about MSE to building a small impact tester for the local science center (the “Breakinator”) for children in grades 3-5 to explore the difference between brittle and ductile materials. After carrying out activities for high school and grade school students, the WSU MA chapter decided to focus on developing an outreach program to middle schools in Washington; the choice of focusing on middle school has been shown to be an effective point in outreach4. It should be noted that these were not mandatory service learning projects, but voluntary activities driven by undergraduate and graduate student interest.
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