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Engineering The World: Hands On Experimentation For Civil Engineering K 12 Outreach

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Where Are Tomorrow's Civil Engineers?

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.509.1 - 8.509.11



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Paper Authors

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Tarek Rizk

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Donald Carpenter

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James Hanson

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

Session 1315

Engineering the World: Hands-on Experimentation for Civil Engineering K-12 Outreach

James L. Hanson, Donald D. Carpenter, and Tarek Rizk

Lawrence Technological University


This paper details the development and application of a community outreach program designed to teach children about math, science, and the world in which they live. The program was titled “Engineering the World” and emphasized civil engineering applications. The program was offered in an inner-city middle school in Detroit, Michigan. The program was developed by civil engineering professors at Lawrence Technological University with the assistance of undergraduate engineering students. The activities were categorized by civil engineering discipline including construction, environmental, geotechnical, hydraulics, structural, surveying, and transportation. The paper describes details of several of the hands-on experiments and provides an assessment of the program including suitability of the activities for this age group. The activities were generally well received by the students. Recommendations for similar outreach programs are provided.


It is well documented that children determine if they are “interested” in math and science by the time they are in middle school. Therefore, it is important to reach children at that age with fun, interactive, and interesting activities that improve the learning process. An outreach program was conducted with middle school students that emphasized civil engineering activities and concepts. The activities were developed to provide exposure to each of the conventional disciplines of civil engineering. Many of the activities were suitable for conducting competitions between individuals or teams of students. A summary of the original 8-module session is presented in Table 1.

The middle school at which the program was held was an inner-city school in Detroit, Michigan. Students in the program were enrolled in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Enrolling in the after school program required qualification of good academic standing by the students and almost all of the students were underprivileged minorities. Classes were scheduled for 20 students, yet regular attendance was between 8 and 12 students. The sessions were scheduled at the conclusion of the school day, from 2:30 until 5:00 pm one day per week. Classes were offered at the school two afternoons per week and the identical program was offered to two separate groups of students. Time was allotted during each session for a snack break.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Rizk, T., & Carpenter, D., & Hanson, J. (2003, June), Engineering The World: Hands On Experimentation For Civil Engineering K 12 Outreach Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11737

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