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Deepening Math and Science Skills in Middle School Students using Civil Engineering-based Learning Modules

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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

Middle School Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.380.1 - 25.380.13



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Paper Authors


Courtney A. Peckens University of Michigan

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Courtney A. Peckens is a doctoral student in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Michigan. Peckens obtained a M.S. degree from the University of Michigan in civil and environmental engineering in 2008 and is also currently working toward completion of a M.S. degree in electrical engineering, along with a Ph.D. in civil engineering. Prior to attending the University of Michigan, Peckens received her B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Hope College in Holland, Mich. While Peckens’s primary research interests include wireless sensing networks for structural health monitoring applications, she is also very interested in engineering education and specifically outreach programs for middle school and high school students.

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Jerome Peter Lynch University of Michigan

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Deepening Math and Science Skills in Middle-School Students using Civil Engineering-based Learning ModulesThe lack of racial diversity in undergraduate engineering programs is a growing concern in theUnited States. According to a study released by NACME in 2008, only 4% of underrepresentedminorities that are graduating from high school have taken the necessary math and scienceclasses to be qualified for admission to such engineering programs [1]. As a result, considerableefforts have been made to improve the pre-college STEM programs such that minority studentshave more opportunities for success in college engineering programs. This paper focuses on anongoing study that involves an in-depth introduction of civil engineering concepts to middleschool students from historically underrepresented groups. Throughout this five day program thestudents are introduced to environmental engineering, surveying concepts, structural engineeringand strength of materials engineering. Though each week focuses on a different component ofcivil engineering, the main academic focal point of the program is to introduce students to basicconcepts of trigonometry, while using them in interesting engineering applications. By doingthis, the concept will either be reinforced to the student, if they had previously learned it in theirclasses, or help to give the student a slight competitive edge over their fellow students when theydo learn it. Additionally, the activities associated with the new concepts help to foster interest incivil engineering and demonstrate to the student how techniques learned in the classroom can beapplied to engineering problems. The program has currently been implemented for one sessionand the success of the program was assessed through pre-program and post-program surveys.Overall, the program was deemed successful through increased comprehension of trigonometricproperties and increased interest in engineering in general.[1] National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME). Confronting the “New”American Dilemma”. 2008.

Peckens, C. A., & Lynch, J. P. (2012, June), Deepening Math and Science Skills in Middle School Students using Civil Engineering-based Learning Modules Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21138

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