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Engineering Outreach: Connecting Biomimetic Research To Urban K 12 Classrooms

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Innovative K-12 Engineering Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.517.1 - 13.517.15



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Paper Authors

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Gisele Ragusa University of Southern California

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Michael Khoo University of Southern California

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Ellis Meng University of Southern California

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Joseph Cocozza University of Southern California

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

Engineering Outreach: Connecting Biomimetic Research to Urban K-12 Classrooms


In 2003, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a large private research university with funds to create a Biomimetic MicroElectronic Systems Engineering Research Center (BMES ERC)- a center dedicated to the coordination of groundbreaking research in the development of biomimetic devices. The ERC brings physicians, biologists, engineers and educators together to develop microelectronic systems that interact with living, human tissues. The resulting technology enables implantable and portable devices that can treat presently incurable diseases including blindness, loss of neuromuscular control, paralysis, and loss of cognitive function. The NSF recognizes the importance of infusing NSF funded research in K-12 classrooms with the goal of providing teachers and K-12 students with access to high quality, research-based curriculum in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) areas. Accordingly, NSF has provided funds for university researchers in this ERC to engage with 6-12 grade STEM teachers through a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) Program. This paper discussed the preliminary results of an RET program focused on biomedical engineering (BME) research experiences in urban contexts. This is a “work in progress” paper that documents preliminary results of evaluative research resulting from the BMERET experience. The focus of this paper is on the RET teachers’ sense of science teaching efficacy and the teachers’ perceptions of the RET program’s success during the first year of the BMERET experience.

The ERC has a significant education outreach effort with a focus on 6-12 grade urban education on BME applications using NSF RET supplement funding. These outreach efforts combine the collaborative expertise of an urban school of engineering, school of medicine and school of education. The BMERET program has provided middle school and high school science teachers in urban settings with opportunities to engage with premiere researchers in BME laboratory settings at a top tier research university. With the combined expertise of the BME scientists and education faculty, BMERET teacher participants are creating powerful curriculum to use in their middle school and high school science classrooms. The teacher participants have experienced greater science teaching efficacy then their non-participant teacher peers, which may be as a result of the collaborative RET experience. Sixth through twelve grade teachers have benefited greatly from bringing the BME lab experiences to their science classrooms providing them with opportunities to engage in BME related research aligned to curriculum standards per teacher report. This will be supported and evidenced by resulting high schools on state science benchmark content exams and BME related concept inventories once the program is complete.

Introduction and Overview

Urban schools are typically heavily impacted by poverty, students with limited English proficiency, and overall low academic achievement, especially in STEM subject areas.

Ragusa, G., & Khoo, M., & Meng, E., & Cocozza, J. (2008, June), Engineering Outreach: Connecting Biomimetic Research To Urban K 12 Classrooms Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4379

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