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Design and Implementation of an Online Outreach Program for Experimental Measurements (Evaluation)

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

PCEE Session 11: Engineering Outreach / Summer Programs

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Paper Authors

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Aimee Cloutier Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


Eric Constans Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Eric Constans is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

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James Mayhew Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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The purpose of this paper is to describe the design and implementation of the Creation Crates outreach program in the summer of 2020 and 2021. In the spring of 2020, most academic programs – both at the undergraduate and K-12 levels – were suddenly forced to move online. Because of health-related concerns, most in-person K-12 summer outreach programs were also cancelled. Creation Crates was developed to provide a remote alternative to the cancelled outreach programs that would still allow students to encounter engineering concepts and strengthen quantitative analytical skills. We believe the details of our program are worth sharing to provide new ideas for educators who are still teaching in an online setting or who are seeking low-cost options for course content related to experimental measurements.

Creation Crates is a virtual engineering outreach program designed for rising high school juniors and seniors. The program was inspired by the forced online implementation of a Measurement Systems course in the spring of 2020 and focuses on skills related to experimental measurements. Over the course of two weeks, participants in Creation Crates perform five different experiments, all the while layering in increasingly complex techniques related to uncertainty analysis and design of experiments. At the beginning of the program, each participant receives a kit in the mail containing the necessary materials and measurement tools for each experiment. The program includes two hours of remote, synchronous classes each weekday as well as daily asynchronous content.

Feedback on the program was collected through a free response survey. Based on the comments of those who chose to participate, the reception to the program has been positive. In response to the question, “What did you enjoy about the program? What did you find valuable?” common positive features included the individual attention from instructors as well as the new and valuable information students were learning. The most common suggestion for improvement was to facilitate more student-student interaction (rather than just student-faculty interaction). Although the instructors did make an attempt to implement more student-student interaction in the second iteration of the program, it was largely unsuccessful.

Although the feedback the students provided was similar in both years, the instructors observed a dip in engagement in the second iteration of Creation Crates. We believe this is largely due to lightened pandemic-related restrictions in the summer of 2021 (as compared to the summer of 2020); since students had the freedom to pursue most “normal” activities in the summer of 2021, some participants tried to treat the program as fully asynchronous, which is not how it was intended to be experienced. As a proposed remedy to this issue, we plan to condense the program into a one-week experience that instead lasts four hours a day, and we are also developing new ideas for ways to facilitate student-student interaction more successfully.

Cloutier, A., & Constans, E., & Mayhew, J. (2022, August), Design and Implementation of an Online Outreach Program for Experimental Measurements (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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