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Engineering Education Collaboration: Innovative Pedagogical Methods For High School And University Environmentalists

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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

Engaging Students

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.483.1 - 15.483.10



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Paper Authors

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Leslie Hadaway Norwood High School

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Megan Urbaitis Norwood High School

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Regina Lamendella Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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Daniel Oerther University of Cincinnati Orcid 16x16

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Andrea Burrows The University of Cincinnati

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Mike Borowczak The University of Cincinnati Orcid 16x16

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Anant Kukreti The University of Cincinnati

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

Engineering Education Collaboration: Innovative Pedagogical Methods for High School and University Environmentalists


This paper presents an innovative teaching approach, how it is implemented, student response results of the implementation, and the assessment of impact on student learning. The findings are based on surveys given to the students after each lab lesson taught in partnership with university (Project STEP) and community members.

The purpose of this paper is to showcase authentic molecular technology research methods that have been incorporated into a high school level water quality study in cooperation with a watershed restoration program. Typically, water quality studies focus on chemical analysis such as pH, dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand, orthophosphates, nitrates, temperature, turbidity, macro-invertebrate survey and fecal coliform cultures. This paper shows that by using molecular technology, the source of pollution in the watershed can be determined.

Students in these high school science classes are engaged in authentic experiences to identify and analyze human impact on the environment and local ecosystems. Students also are able to collect and analyze data using computer and molecular technology. With help from the local watershed managers, the AP high school students filter bacteria, isolate their DNA, use the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify the DNA, and finally use gel electrophoresis to trace the DNA to its source (human, cow or intestinal bacteria). In this way, both AP and Physical Science students can extend the water quality study to trace the pollution to a point source. This is a unique approach to high school science laboratory activities.

All watershed data is collected and organized using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and graphing software. Students are able to form conclusions using technology that is used in today’s workplace. Initial findings regarding student response to this innovative teaching approach indicate that the actual application of molecular technology methods, employed to solve a problem with an unknown conclusion, is very meaningful to students. Unlike other traditional classroom labs, neither the teacher nor the students know what the results of the watershed tests are before-hand. This type of innovative teaching approach, supported by research on inquiry lessons, provides a more memorable experience for the students – actually performing technology that they would otherwise only read about in textbooks and articles. This paper will provide other instructors with a kind of roadmap, but one where there are experiences of many partners and students that highlight both successes and challenges.

Project STEP

The chief goal of this National Science Foundation funded project is to produce scientists, engineers, and secondary mathematics and science educators who are experienced in developing and implementing authentic educational practices. The graduate students, called STEP Fellows, are the main focus of the grant. The STEP Fellows, 15 in the last three years, are trained to bring their complex graduate research to an understandable and interesting K-12 level. This process

Hadaway, L., & Urbaitis, M., & Lamendella, R., & Oerther, D., & Burrows, A., & Borowczak, M., & Kukreti, A. (2010, June), Engineering Education Collaboration: Innovative Pedagogical Methods For High School And University Environmentalists Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16896

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