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Development of a High School Engineering Research Program: Findings from a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) Site

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Conference

2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Integrating Technical Research into Professional Development and K-12 Classrooms

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count

11

Page Numbers

22.473.1 - 22.473.11

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/17754

Download Count

40

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Paper Authors

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Amy E. Landis University of Pittsburgh

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Christian D. Schunn University of Pittsburgh

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Monica Christine Rothermel University of Pittsburgh

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Scott Shrake University of Pittsburgh

biography

Briana Niblick University of Pittsburgh

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Briana Niblick is a Ph.D. student and NSF IGERT Fellow in the Sustainability and Green Design research group.

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Abstract

Development  of  a  high  school  engineering  research  program:  Findings  from  a   Research  Experience  for  Teachers  (RET)  Site.   Abstract  submitted  to  American  Society  for  Engineering  Education   2011  Annual  Conference  and  Exposition   June  26  –  29,  2011  –  Vancouver,  BC,  Canada     Amy  Landis*,  Chris  Schunn**,  Briana  Niblick$,  Monica  Rothermel$,  Scott  Shrake$   University  of  Pittsburgh,  Pittsburgh,  PA   *Assistant  Professor,  Department  of  Civil  and  Environmental  Engineering   **Associate  Professor,  Learning  Research  and  Development  Center   $  Graduate  student,  Department  of  Civil  and  Environmental  Engineering     Students’  first  exposure  to  engineering  all  too  often  occurs  at  the  university  level.  Engineering  is  rarely  taught  in  high  school,  although  as  professors  and  teachers  begin  to  recognize  this  delay  in  instruction,  high  schools  are  beginning  to  introduce  engineering  concepts  into  their  curricula.  One  program  that  promotes  high  school  engineering  instruction  through  collaboration  with  local  universities  is  the  National  Science  Foundation’s  Research  Experience  for  Teachers  program  (NSF  RET).  The  University  of  Pittsburgh  hosts  one  such  site  with  the  aim  of  bringing  engineering  design  into  urban  high  schools  via  real  world  applications.  One  element  of  the  RET  Site  brings  high  school  students  into  research  laboratories  at  the  University  of  Pittsburgh.  This  paper  presents  an  introduction  to  the  RET  program  and  delves  into  the  findings  from  the  internship  portion  of  the  RET  Site.     The  RET  Site  at  the  University  of  Pittsburgh  has  four  main  components  including  curriculum  development  for  Pittsburgh  area  high  school  teachers  during  an  intensive  summer  experience,  teacher  implementation  of  new  engineering  design  units  into  their  courses,  an  annual  design  competition  where  the  teachers’  students  present  their  projects,  and  finally  high  school  student  internships  within  research  laboratories  at  the  University  of  Pittsburgh.  Interns  participated  in  research  activities  with  the  aim  of  developing  their  interest  in  engineering,  developing  their  ability  to  perform  research,  and  developing  their  engineering  skills.    Throughout  the  internship,  students  were  given  the  opportunity  to  work  with  graduate  students  and  university  professors  on  current  research  projects,  and  they  were  exposed  to  graduate-­‐level  research  activities  through  their  participation  in  book  discussion  groups,  research  seminars,  a  research  methods  course,  and  a  laboratory  safety  course.    The  students’  internship  culminated  with  a  final  written  report  and  presentation  during  a  symposium.   High  school  student  interns  during  the  summers  of  2009  and  2010  participated  in  two  different  types  of  internship  experiences.  The  first  experience  focused  on  advancing  the  students’  design  that  originated  in  their  classroom  experience.  Students  were  given  the  opportunity  to  improve  the  designs  that  won  them  the  internship  from  the  RET  design  competition  with  guidance  from  graduate  student  mentors  and  professors.    The  second  experience  fully  engrossed  the  students  in  the  research  activities  at  the  University;  the  only  connection  to  the  students’  original  classroom  project  was  the  subject  area.  For  example,  student  interns  who  presented  a  design  related  to  prosthetics  were  placed  in  a  prosthetics  research  team  at  Pitt.     Student  creativity,  interest  in  engineering,  knowledge  of  engineering  fields,  and  skill  development  was  assessed  through  focus  groups,  evaluation  of  student  journaling,  and  student  surveys.  Students  in  the  different  types  of  experiences  showed  different  levels  of  engagement  in  research  and  differing  perceptions  related  to  engineering.  Students  from  the  first  experience  that  focused  on  advancing  their  classroom  project  showed  more  resistance  to  change  and  were  slower  to  come  to  creative  engineering  solutions.  From  the  findings  of  this  study,  we  discuss  best  practices  and  recommendations  for  incorporating  high  school  students  into  a  university  laboratory  setting.    

Landis, A. E., & Schunn, C. D., & Rothermel, M. C., & Shrake, S., & Niblick, B. (2011, June), Development of a High School Engineering Research Program: Findings from a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) Site Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/17754

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