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Engineering Beyond The Classroom

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Technological Literacy and the Educated Person

Tagged Division

Technological Literacy Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.478.1 - 15.478.17



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Paper Authors

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Michele Dischino Central Connecticut State University

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James DeLaura Central Connecticut State University

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Patrick Foster Central Connecticut State University

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David Sianez CCSU

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Engineering Beyond the Classroom: Afterschool Experiences for Technological Literacy


Technology surrounds us, and technological literacy benefits all members of society – engineers and non-engineers alike. Our understanding of technology influences a wide range of decisions we encounter in our daily lives, from selecting healthcare options to making informed product purchases and dietary choices. At the same time, most people have very few direct, hands-on connections to technology, except as finished consumer goods. This lack of engagement is responsible, at least in part, for societal shortfalls in technological proficiency.

In 2008, through support from the State General Assembly and Department of Education, seven organizations and institutions were awarded funding to develop an afterschool program designed to spark student interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The afterschool setting was targeted with the goal of creating opportunities for middle and high school students to build STEM skills through fun, hands-on activities in a relaxed atmosphere. The partners, which include our University, represent the education continuum from K-12 through higher education, and collectively have developed and implemented standards-based, hands-on, afterschool STEM programs, professional development programs, and STEM-related monitoring and evaluation contracts.

For their part, our University faculty applied the principles of problem-based learning in the context of “demystifying magic” to develop a module in which students explore events that appear to have a magical quality. Unlike most illusions, the “tricks” learned through these activities aim not only to mystify, but to demystify as well, as students unravel the STEM behind the sorcery. Phenomena related to surface tension, pressure differentials, buoyancy and the behavior of light are among those explored, and information about engineering applications is included with each activity, as well as resources related to black and female inventors. As a capstone event, students are challenged to stage their own magic show, creating original “tricks” based on what they learned.

Dischino, M., & DeLaura, J., & Foster, P., & Sianez, D. (2010, June), Engineering Beyond The Classroom Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16128

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