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Composites In Construction: A Research Experience For Teachers

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

K-20 Activities in Materials Science

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.311.1 - 8.311.4



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Paper Authors

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Jed Lyons

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

Session 2364

Composites in Construction: A Research Experience for Teachers

Jed Lyons, Associate Professor Department of Mechanical Engineering University of South Carolina

Abstract A grant to the University of South Carolina from the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program supported five high school science teachers to conduct engineering research on the university campus during the summer of 2002. The goal was to increase the teacher’s knowledge of engineering materials and to enhance their inquiry skills. The teachers also developed several laboratory modules that were derived from their research to take back and use in their classroom. The teachers conducted research on the use of fiber reinforced composite materials to strengthen and stiffen the components of bridges. For the past two decades, composites have been introduced to the construction industry as a practical way to improve the load carrying capacity of existing concrete, steel and wooden structures. Wood was chosen for the RET research due to the availability of wood beams, the limited duration of their summer research experience, and the ease in creating easily transportable in-class laboratory modules. Specifically, the teachers investigated the factors affecting the strength of the bond between epoxy-glass composites and southern yellow pine. During the six-week program, the teachers learned to conduct literature research in the library, to design experiments, to fabricate composite material overlays on wood beams, to test the beams to determine strength and stiffness improvements and to test the bond strength after various environmental exposures. Through these experiences, the teachers gained increased content knowledge, design of experiments skills, and useful instructional materials.

Introduction This project was made possible by a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) Supplement1 to the University of South Carolina’s Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) grant from the National Science Foundation. The objective of the RET was to enhance the ability of selected high school teachers to teach ENGR 101 - Introduction to Engineering in their schools for college credit. This project was designed to increase the teacher’s content knowledge and inquiry skills through a complete engineering research experience, from experimental design to final reporting. The participating teachers also developed several laboratory modules that were derived from their research and could easily be taken back and used in their classroom. The participants were recruited from a pool of 14 high school science teachers who had passed the University of South Carolina’s course ENGR 701 - Introduction to Engineering for Teachers. This course qualifies them to teach ENGR 101 in their schools. The demographics of the five teachers were 1 white female, 1 black male and 3 white males. Each teacher had earned

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Lyons, J. (2003, June), Composites In Construction: A Research Experience For Teachers Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11539

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