Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
One of the most effective techniques to teach engineering in higher education is service learning, in which student learning objectives are combined with community service to provide a real-life, progressive learning experience. A significant part of the required work for engineering introductory courses is comprised of team projects, which are effectively facilitated through service learning. This paper describes a 10-year ongoing service-learning project at our college done in close collaboration with the local children’s museum, XXXXXXX. It presents the development, implementation, and results of this project, which is included as a component of a freshman-level Introduction to Engineering course. Initially, the museum’s Education Coordinator requested our help to develop thematic toys and games to teach visiting children various physics concepts and evolved to align with the re-development of XXXXXXX into a STEM Center during the past decade. The project starts with the museum Education Team, the “customer,” presenting to engineering students the physics concepts they need addressed as well as the aesthetic, technical, and safety requirements of the project. Each student engineering team chooses a particular physics concept to design and build a toy or game “exhibit” that meets all the requirements, using recycled and repurposed materials as much as possible. The teams are required to present their prototypes to the engineering course instructor and XXXXXXX Team for inspection, feedback, and approval. After final modifications, a formal product test with the “real customers” (children and their families) is conducted at the XXXXXXX. On a busy Saturday afternoon, hundreds of children and their families play with the exhibited toys and games and indicate their preferences on a ballot to decide the “Top-3.” exhibits. At the same time, the XXXXXXX Education Team evaluates each exhibit to select up to three projects that would be donated and become exhibits in the museum. The project concludes with detailed team written and oral reports that describe how the multi-step engineering design process was used to design, build, and test a new product. The final activity of the project are class discussions where students exchange observations and lessons learned. Feedback on this project has been almost universally positive since its inception. This paper also provides conclusions and suggestions to help other schools start a service-learning component in their Introduction to Engineering course that will not only benefit students, but also help their communities learn more about engineering.
Dimitriu, D. G., & Bartels, K. B., & Navarro, C. C. (2020, June), Engineering Service Learning at Children’s Museum: A Decade of Empowering the STEM Education Pipeline Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34559
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