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Board # 93 : Using Modular Technology as a Platform to Study Youth Approaches to Engineering Practice (Work in Progress)

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Pre-college Engineering Education Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Jacqueline F. Handley University of Michigan

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Jacqueline Handley is a graduate student at the University of Michigan, in Science Education. Her background is in Material Science and Engineering, with an emphasis on Biomaterials Design. She is interested in, broadly, how best bridge engineering practice and education. More specifically, she is interested in studying how students and teachers conceptualize and engage with engineering design practices, and how to increase access to engineering.

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Elizabeth Birr Moje University of Michigan


Jerome Peter Lynch University of Michigan

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Dr. Jerome Lynch is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan; he is also a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science by courtesy. He is also the Director of the University of Michigan Smart and Healthy City Initiative which focuses on solving urban challenges with smart city technologies. Prior to joining Michigan in 2003, Dr. Lynch had completed his graduate studies at Stanford University where he received his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2002, M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1998, and M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2003. Prior to attending Stanford, Dr. Lynch received his B.E. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the Cooper Union in New York City. His current research interests are in the areas of wireless cyber-physical systems, cyberinfrastructure tools for management of structural monitoring data, and nanoengineered thin film sensors for damage detection and structural health monitoring. Dr. Lynch has been awarded the 2005 ONR Young Investigator Award, 2009 NSF CAREER Award, 2009 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), 2012 ASCE EMI Leonardo da Vinci Award and 2014 ASCE Huber Award.

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Katherine A. Flanigan University of Michigan

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Using Modular Technology as a Platform to Study Youth Approaches to Engineering Practice (Work in Progress) With the creation of the Framework for K-12 Science Education by the National Research Council and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), teaching engineering in K-12 education is becoming not only more common, but also a necessity. With the call for engineering design instruction occurring as early as kindergarten, and science and engineering enactment better modeling the discipline, the NGSS mark a major shift towards a new vision of science, and now engineering, in the K-12 classroom. This new vision is not without its challenges. Though much work has been done on understanding student and teacher understanding of and roles in particular science practices (e.g., argumentation), less work has explored what this looks like for engineering practice. Though some frameworks for evaluation of engineering practices in the classroom exist, more work needs to be done to understand student understanding and learning of engineering practices. Understanding this will help inform the design of better supports for teachers and students. This work proposes to a concretely study student conception of engineering practice, along with how engineering can connect to the K-12 classroom. Our collaborators have developed modular sensor technology that allows for multiple and changeable sensors to be adapted on one device. These sensors were originally designed for assessing bridge structural integrity, but have been adapted so that a student can choose a range of sensing modalities pending the question they want to address. We are working with youth in an urban setting to develop a question they want to address about their city, and deploying the sensor to study this question. Youth are challenged with defining problems within their city, ways that sensing technology can best provide information to address that problem, and addressing other questions that arise in their deployment. This arrangement provides a unique window to isolate youth attitudes and understanding surrounding problem definition, an engineering practice called out in NGSS and pertinent to many models of engineering design. For our work on problem definition, youth are assessed by observation, interview and survey. Engagement with the modular sensing technology is iteratively assessed for program and technical improvements. Results presented intend to include a summary of strengths and weaknesses of the model based on youth feedback, as assessed by the survey. Performance data will also be included, based on observations conducted with students as they used the framework to define a question. This will be related back to use in the K-12 classroom. Finally, an initial summary of observations of youth challenges with problem definition. We hope that our model will provide new insight into how students begin to conceptualize these and other engineering practices, and how we can utilize this information to support teachers in engineering.

Handley, J. F., & Moje, E. B., & Lynch, J. P., & Flanigan, K. A. (2017, June), Board # 93 : Using Modular Technology as a Platform to Study Youth Approaches to Engineering Practice (Work in Progress) Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27958

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