June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
11.396.1 - 11.396.25
Design and Evaluation of InnoWorks: A Portable, Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Program by Volunteer College Students for Middle School Youth from Underprivileged Backgrounds
InnoWorks is an innovative science and engineering program designed by volunteer college undergraduates for middle-school students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the flagship program of United InnoWorks Academy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization founded in 2003. The primary goals of InnoWorks are to (1) provide underprivileged students with an opportunity to explore the real-world links among science and engineering disciplines, (2) foster teamwork, enthusiasm, and career interests in science and engineering, and (3) use current neuroscience and educational research to develop mentoring, teaching, and learning methods that build student confidence in problem-solving.
The InnoWorks initiative is unique among extracurricular educational programs for several reasons. First, InnoWorks programs are offered entirely free of charge for all students nominated by their schools and community centers. Second, the programs are developed and conducted entirely by volunteer undergraduate students from around the country who are eager to share their passion for science and engineering. Third, InnoWorks curricula are designed to be exceptionally interdisciplinary, which enables students to understand connections among different scientific fields and how they relate to their own lives. Finally, to personalize and improve mentoring and teaching methodologies, InnoWorks develops and evaluates novel adaptations of research by cognitive neuroscientists and educational psychologists.
Currently, there are InnoWorks chapters at Duke University and University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP); three new chapters are being developed at the University of Arizona, Georgetown University, and the University of Pennsylvania for 2006. InnoWorks has completed two successful years of summer programs with over 110 students and 80 volunteer undergraduates. In 2005, the program theme was the human senses and the curriculum was entitled “Making Sense of Senses”. The programs each ran for approximately one week and were divided into sensory themes: Vision, Hearing, Touch, Taste, Smell, and Prediction & Estimation. We used concrete sensory experiences to initiate educational activities modeled on Kolb’s experiential learning cycle.1 Each theme began with group activities as the primary learning experiences, followed by competitive missions in teams of four students, each with one or two undergraduate mentors. All missions were designed to inspire students to use and extend the knowledge gained from the group-learning activities. Mission topics included robotics, rockets, electronic filters, microscopy, fiber-optics, and crime scene investigation.
Each InnoWorks program is designed to be modular, scalable, and portable for effective national and international application. The program provides an innovative method to bring higher- education expertise to middle-school youth and fosters development of synergistic relationships between universities and communities. Moreover, the program offers a valuable opportunity for undergraduates to become involved in mentoring, teaching, and community outreach. InnoWorks aims to help remedy the national shortfall in future STEM-educated (Science, Technology,
Hwang, W., & Bissell, A., & Kaplan, D., & Mian, M., & Agrawal, V., & Manson, J., & Ybarra, G. (2006, June), Design And Evaluation Of Innoworks: A Portable, Interdisciplinary Science And Engineering Program By Volunteer College Students For Middle School Youth From Underprivileged Backgrounds Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/628
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