Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Community Engagement Division
Our NSF-funded ITEST project focuses on the collaborative design, implementation, and study of recurrent hands-on engineering activities with middle school youth in three rural communities in or near Appalachia. To achieve this aim, our team of faculty and graduate students partner with school educators and industry experts embedded in students’ local communities to collectively develop curriculum to aim at teacher-identified science standard and facilitate regular in-class interventions throughout the academic year. Leveraging local expertise is especially critical in this project because family pressures, cultural milieu, and preference for local, stable jobs play considerable roles in how Appalachian youth choose possible careers.
Our partner communities have voluntarily opted to participate with us in a shared implementation-research program and as our project unfolds we are responsive to community-identified needs and preferences while maintaining the research program’s integrity. Our primary focus has been working to incorporate hands-on activities into science classrooms aimed at state science standards in recognition of the demands placed on teachers to align classroom time with state standards and associated standardized achievement tests. Our focus on serving diverse communities while being attentive to relevant research such as the preference for local, stable jobs attention to cultural relevance led us to reach out to advanced manufacturing facilities based in the target communities in order to enhance the connection students and teachers feel to local engineers. Each manufacturer has committed to designating several employees (engineers) to co-facilitate interventions six times each academic year.
Launching our project has involved coordination across stakeholder groups to understand distinct values, goals, strengths and needs. In the first academic year, we are working with 9 different 6th grade science teachers across 7 schools in 3 counties. Co-facilitating in the classroom are representatives from our project team, graduate student volunteers from across the college of engineering, and volunteering engineers from our three industry partners. Developing this multi-stakeholder partnership has involved discussions and approvals across both school systems (e.g., superintendents, STEM coordinators, teachers) and our industry partners (e.g., managers, HR staff, volunteering engineers).
The aim of this engagement-in-practice paper is to explore our lessons learned in navigating the day-to-day challenges of (1) developing and facilitating curriculum at the intersection of science standards, hands-on activities, cultural relevancy, and engineering thinking, (2) collaborating with volunteers from our industry partners and within our own college of engineering in order to deliver content in every science class of our 9 6th grade teachers one full school day/month, and (3) adapting to emergent needs that arise due to school and division differences (e.g., logistics of scheduling and curriculum pacing), community differences across our three counties (e.g., available resources in schools), and partner constraints.
Lesko, H. L., & Grohs, J. R., & Matusovich, H. M., & Kirk, G. R., & Carrico, C., & van Montfrans, V., & Gillen, A. L., & Paradise, T., & Blackowski, S. A., & Baum, L. M. (2018, June), Engagement in Practice: Lessons Learned Partnering with Science Educators and Local Engineers in Rural Schools Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30387
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