Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
The well-documented lack of diversity in engineering, coupled with the growing evidence that diverse teams are more successful, begs for the development of effective educational outreach tools that appeal to students from underrepresented groups in engineering - including females, racial/ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, and first-in-family college students. Building on our previous work-in-progress , here we describe an educational outreach initiative that aims to engage underrepresented students by highlighting the positive societal impact of biomedical engineering.
Service learning combines curriculum presentation with community service and has been shown to enhance classroom learning, student retention, and personal and professional skills [2-5]. Additionally, research has found that making a positive impact on society is especially important to underrepresented students in career selection [6-7] and engineering courses with clear service connections commonly attract students from underrepresented groups [8-9].
Here we describe our implementation of educational outreach activities focused on the hands-on, real-world engineering application of toy adaptation for children with developmental or physical disabilities. Toy adaptation involves modifying the toy’s activation to enhance the child’s interaction with the toy. The process includes deconstructing a toy, examining its circuit, and soldering an alternative activation switch. This involves conceptual and technical learning such as basic circuitry, hand tool usage, reverse engineering, and soldering techniques, while it also provides a concrete example of how bioengineers may benefit their communities.
Utilizing toy adaptation in outreach is a novel application of this universal design strategy. Previous work by the Toy Adaptation Program at Ohio State University [10-12] utilized toy adaptation as a method to increase first-year engineering students’ understanding of the field of engineering, and the connection between engineering and society . The novelty of our work is the implementation of toy adaptation as an outreach tool to engage underrepresented students who have not yet selected engineering as a course of study or career path.
Assessment includes both qualitative and quantitative self-reported data obtained by surveys after outreach events. These events occurred both during the academic year as well as at summer camps and they primarily focused on underrepresented students in engineering at the middle and high school level. We found that students overwhelmingly agreed that they enjoyed toy adaptation. When asked on a Likert scale from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree, students responded to the statement, “I enjoyed toy adaptation” with an average of 4.76. In the open response section, students often commented that they enjoyed the “hands-on” aspect, “working with a team”, and that the final product “benefits people.” Preliminary data also show that female students may especially understand the impact of toy adaptation. When responding to the statement, “Toy adaptation is valuable,” female student responses averaged 4.91 while male student responses averaged 4.46 and this difference was statistically significant (p = 0.017) when tested with a Mann-Whitney U Test.
In conclusion, we describe an effort to engage a more diverse body of bioengineers through the novel use of toy adaptation in a bioengineering outreach initiative that highlights the positive impact of bioengineering. Our efforts are targeted to underrepresented local middle/high school students and community college students who are preparing to make decisions about their future educational and career paths.
 2017 ASEE Annual Conference paper, anonymized for blind review  Oakes, W., Duffy, J., Jacobius, T., Linos, P., Lord, S., Schultz, W. W., & Smith, A. (2002). Service-learning in engineering. In Frontiers in Education, 2002. FIE 2002. 32nd Annual (Vol. 2, pp. F3A-F3A). IEEE.  Duffy, J., Tsang, E., & Lord, S. Service-learning in engineering: What why and how? ASEE Annual Conference 2000.  Eyler, J., & Giles Jr, D. E. (1999). Where's the Learning in Service-Learning? Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series.  Sax, L. J., Astin, A. W., & Avalos, J. (1999). Long-term effects of volunteerism during the undergraduate years. The review of higher education, 22(2), 187-202.  National Academy of Engineering (2008). Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering.  Google (2014). Women Who Choose Computer Science – What Really Matters.  Davis, R. E., Krishnan, S., Nilsson, T. L., & Rimland, P. F. (2014). IDEAS: Interdisciplinary Design Engineering and Service. International Journal for Service Learning in Engineering, Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship, 165-179.  Rader, C., Hakkarinen, D., Moskal, B. M., & Hellman, K. (2011, March). Exploring the appeal of socially relevant computing: are students interested in socially relevant problems?. Proceedings of the 42nd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (pp. 423-428). ACM.  Mollica, M.Y., Kajfez, R.L., Riter, E.R., West, M., Vuyk, P., Community Service as a Means of Engineering Inspiration: An Initial Investigation into the Impact of the Toy Adaptation Program. ASEE Annual Conference 2016.  Stavridis, O.M., Kajfez, R.L., Riter, E.R., Mollica, M.Y., Modeling real-world objects: connecting SolidWorks to toy adaptation. Frontiers in Education Conference 2016.  Kajfez, R., Vuyk, P., Mollica, M., Riter, E., West, M., Toy Adaptation Program Workshop: Enriching First-Year Engineers by Teaching the Electronic Toy Adaptation Process. First Year Engineering Experience ASEE Conference 2016.
Mollica, M. Y., & Feldner, H. A., & Israel, S., & Caspi, A., & Steele, K. M., & Hendricks, D. G. (2018, June), Board 7: Work in Progress: Toy Adaptation as Engineering Outreach to Diverse High School Students Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30090
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015