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Challenges of Introducing Engineering in After-school Settings

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Out-of-School and Informal Activities

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.297.1 - 25.297.10



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Paper Authors


Paul A. Klenk Ph.D. Duke University

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Paul A. Klenk received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and materials science at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering in 2006. Since graduating, Paul has been the Co-director of Engineering K-Ph.D., the Pratt School of Engineering's K-12 outreach program. In this position, he is an editor for the TeachEngineering Digital Library, develops afterschool engineering curriculum through the TechXcite program, and previously managed Duke’s engineering GK-12 program.

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Gary A. Ybarra Duke University

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Gary A. Ybarra, Ph.D. is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University. His areas of interest are signal and information processing and K-12 engineering outreach. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees all in ECE from NC State University.

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Rodger D Dalton Jr Techsplorers

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Rodger Dalton (B.S.E.E., NCSU, 1992, and M.S.E.E., Duke University, 2006) is an electrical engineer with 20 years of industry experience and holder of nine U.S. and foreign patents, with more than a decade of experience designing fiber optic telecommunication products. With a passion for teaching, Dalton has fostered the aspirations of young engineers and scientists from elementary school students to mentoring new-grad engineers as they begin their careers. During his undergraduate studies at NC State, he operated a private tutoring business that served hundreds of students and developed curriculum for the electric circuits lab. While attending graduate school at Duke, he coordinated the Techtronics after-school program at Rogers Herr Middle School in Durham, N.C. The excitement of working with younger students led Dalton to create Techsplorers in 2009. Techsplorers is an engineering enrichment program that operates summer camps at three locations in Raleigh and Chapel Hill in addition to online learning via HD streaming videos and electronics project kits.

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American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference 2012, San Antonia, TX Impacts of Training 4-H After-School Program Instructors in Engineering ModulesAbstractZZZ is an informal, project-based engineering program for middle school students. The programis a partnership between the Engineering School at XXX University, the Department of 4-HYouth Development and Family & Consumer Sciences at YYY University, and the National 4-HCouncil. The ZZZ curriculum is centered on seven themes (Wireless Communication,Biomedical Technology, Digital Imaging, Solar Energy, Transportation, Heating and Cooling,and GIS/GPS). Within each theme are modules containing four to six 45 minute activitiesdesigned to engage kids in the engineering design process in an informal setting. Each module isintended to introduce a modern and exciting technology that children encounter in their everydaylives while encouraging meaningful exploration and use of math and science as problem solvingtools. 4-H Afterschool staff, most of whom do not have any formal engineering education, teachthe program. Prior to teaching a module, 4-H Afterschool staff participate in a one-day workshopheld at a 4-H Extension Center. This paper examines the impacts on the instructors, who often donot have a science or engineering background, of participating in the workshops and teaching thecurriculum. Survey data from instructors trained in California, West Virginia, and NorthCarolina will be utilized in addition to post program interviews for detailed followup. Inaddition, the paper examines the impacts of the program on the students through focus groupdata collected during the first four years of the project in California, West Virginia, and NorthCarolina and how it has changed over the last two years as the program has expanding to newsettings in additional states. Focus groups, conducted by Compass Consulting Group who isresponsible for the external evaluation of the project, have provided means of getting moredetailed information on the engineering concepts students take away from the curriculum. Focusgroup data provides a thorough investigation of student attitudes towards science, engineering,and technology. The goals of these focus groups are to determine: 1) do students know whatengineers do? 2) have there been changes in student attitudes towards science, math, andengineering? 3) are students more or less interested in pursuing a career in science, engineering,and technology? 4) do students in rural and urban counties have different preferences inengineering activities? 5) do girls/boys have different preferences in engineering activities?.Finally, the paper will describe the challenges of expanding the program to additional states(West Virginia and California) over the last two years within the 4-H system and plannedexpansion to Michigan, Missouri, Colorado, and West Virginia. ZZZ is an Informal ScienceEducation program funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant #___________).

Klenk, P. A., & Ybarra, G. A., & Dalton, R. D. (2012, June), Challenges of Introducing Engineering in After-school Settings Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21055

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