June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
23.509.1 - 23.509.9
Works in Progress Engineering Everywhere: Bridging Formal and Informal STEM Education As interest in STEM education has increased, engineering design challenges have been used in many different educational settings to engage student learning. As a way to illustrate the similar and differing needs of classroom and out‐of‐school time environments, this paper compares and contrasts factors that influence the structure of two engineering education programs: a formal engineering curriculum for the elementary classroom and an informal hands‐on engineering design challenge program at a science museum in northeast United States. This paper begins with an analysis of goals and factors that are similar between design challenges in the formal and informal setting. For example, elementary school students and museum visitors have similar misconceptions about engineering and technology; both formal and informal learning environments aim to create an engineering experience that is accessible and appealing to diverse populations; and classroom teachers and museum facilitators are challenged by both a limited budget and scarce preparation time. It then identifies some of the common structural components that both programs have adopted in response to these goals and factors. For example, both programs create activities using cheap and familiar materials and minimize set up and preparation time. In the second part of the paper, differences between formal and informal learning environments that have created divergences in our programs’ structures and goals are examined. For example, classrooms have extended learning time for engineering activities (i.e., several hours over multiple days) whereas a museum interactive exhibit rarely has more than 20 minutes to engage a visitor in an activity. In addition, classroom lessons are designed to engage only 25‐30 children at a time whereas a museum interactive activity must be able to accommodate more than 200 visitors in a two‐ hour time period. This is followed by a discussion of how the two programs have developed different structures to reach their similar goals. For example, because of the constraints of the museum environment, the design challenge program focuses on creating unique hands‐on engineering experiences within an exhibit setting that are quick, simple, and do not require much facilitation. This paper draws from a number of research and evaluation studies that examined how these engineering programs have impacted their learners. The results of these studies, some of which is presented in the paper, have further informed how the programs might be structured and delivered. This examination of engineering education in these two educational settings will further understanding about the factors/components that are critical to successful engineering activities so that others will be able to create richer STEM learning experiences in their own educational environments, whether in the classroom or out.
Yang, S., & Beall, L. (2013, June), Engineering Everywhere: Bridging Formal and Informal STEM Education (Works in Progress) Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19523
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