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Curriculum Exchange: Studio STEM, Engineering After School

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-College Engineering Division Curriculum Exchange

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.348.1 - 24.348.3



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Paper Authors


Christine Schnittka Auburn University

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Dr. Christine Schnittka is an assistant professor in the College of Education and the Department of Curriculum and Teaching with a joint appointment in the College of Engineering. Her current research involves developing and evaluating engineering design-based curriculum units that target key science concepts and environmental issues through the contextual lens of problem-based learning. Prior to receiving her Ph.D. in science education at the University of Virginia, Dr. Schnittka was a middle school teacher and administrator for 10 years, and prior to that, worked as a mechanical engineer. She has published her work in journals such as the International Journal of Science Education, the International Journal of Engineering Education, Advances in Engineering Education, The Science Teacher, and Science Scope.

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Studio STEM: Engineering After SchoolStudio STEM is an after-school program designed to increase middle school youth’sunderstanding of science, technology, and engineering through issues related to energysecurity and sustainability. Youth are given the challenge to design and construct devicesthat apply what they have learned about what energy is, how it is transferred andtransformed, and how electricity is created, used, and stored. Youth design motion-generated electric lights, solar powered vehicles, a town that stores its energy incapacitors and batteries, and insulated dwellings. The studio model places emphasis on ascience and engineering content-rich curriculum that links youth to their environment,and the support and scaffolded discussions with mentors. The informal character of thisprogram allows youth the freedom to explore and self-identify with STEM topics. Thepurpose of this mixed-methods study was to understand how middle school youth learnedscience and engineering as three groups participated in the curriculum at after-schoolstudio locations for three academic years. Video, pre and post tests, storyboards, onlinechat logs, and exit interviews were used to triangulate findings. Results indicate that therelaxed freedom youth experienced when mentored by college student facilitators wasconducive to learning, and that the environmental/energy context was also motivating.Significant gains were made in science content knowledge and attitudes toward STEM.Curriculum modifications were made as modules were repeated, so that the curriculummore fully addressed the after-school environment and the studio model. This workshould be of interest to the ASEE K-12 Division, as engineering design curriculum andactivities will be more frequently used as a result of the Next Generation ScienceStandards. More schools are adopting the STEM framework for curriculum developmentand implementation, with engineering being a key component. Studio STEM is at theforefront of this movement and is a model for STEM integration in informal settings.

Schnittka, C. (2014, June), Curriculum Exchange: Studio STEM, Engineering After School Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20239

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