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Engineers As Teachers: Bringing Cutting Edge Math And Science Topics Into Underprivileged Classrooms Via Student And Professional Engineers

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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

Culture, Society, and Co-op

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.500.1 - 15.500.15



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Paper Authors


Lindsey Jenkins-Stark Iridescent

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Ms. Lindsey Jenkins-Stark, Vice President. Ms. Lindsey Jenkins-Stark has a multi-subject credential from the University of California at Dominguez Hills, and an undergraduate degree in sociology with a focus in law from the University of California at San Diego. She was a Teach for America corps member in Los Angeles from 2006-2008. She is a distinguished middle school teacher who has taught math, science and social studies. She has been a member of a Los Angeles Unified District School decision-making committee as well as chair for her grade level.

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Tara Chklovski Iridescent

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

Cooperative and Experiential Education Engineers as Teachers: Bringing Cutting-edge Math and Science Topics into Underprivileged Classrooms via Student and Professional Engineers

Abstract Since its inception in 2006, Iridescent’s mission has been to foster curiosity, confidence, and a love for science and engineering in underserved children by utilizing undergraduate, graduate, and professional engineers as instructors in the community. Iridescent serves 3rd -7th grade low- income Hispanic and Black students and their families in the greater Los Angeles area. Our approach is to train volunteer engineers to teach cutting edge science to students and their families. This approach leverages a vital, yet untapped resource, engineers, to address the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) achievement gap. Engineers become long term volunteers, developing relationships with the children, and bringing valuable social capital into high-need areas. Through our partnership with the University of Southern California (USC), engineering undergraduates enroll in “Engineers as Teachers” and receive 3 units of technical elective credit for participating in our training program. During the 16-week training undergraduate engineers partner with graduate students, faculty and professional engineers and learn to break down complex ideas into simple lessons, identify learning objectives, design aligned experiments and assess learning through a pedagogical theory-based approach. Throughout the training, engineer volunteers develop a story that pervades four to five lessons. Story topics are based on volunteering engineers’ research field so that they can share their expertise with the participating community. To bring research-based STEM topics to the community, volunteer engineers work in pairs to develop lessons and experiments from their field. They then present their lessons and experiments to the whole training group which, in turn, offers suggestions on explanations, experiment design, and how to present the overall concept. Volunteers use an online collaboration site to comment on lesson plans, reflect on their teaching, and post new ideas and material. Volunteer engineers come away from their experience with three main areas of impact. 1) They are empowered by inspiring others. “It is really a big deal to be working with students at a young age so they can be excited about what they're learning and {so these students can} be really ambitious for the future." 2) They learn important lessons in management and public speaking. One volunteer observed, “This is a really useful skill because I’m sure later on in my career I’ll have to explain what I do to an audience that doesn’t necessarily have a background in my field.” 3) They learn more about their own field. One engineer commented: “The day to day life as a student at USC is a lot of theory. When we actually get to go into these classrooms, we’re actually…taking the theories we learned in our books and applying them to small models…” This paper provides rationale for using engineers to deliver content to underprivileged communities, including the benefits to both the communities and the engineers. It outlines the engineers’ training that includes in-depth discussions and applications of established instructional theory and strategy. A key feature of Iridescent’s model is incorporating feedback and evaluation. We employ a multi-method research approach to evaluate the program’s impact

Jenkins-Stark, L., & Chklovski, T. (2010, June), Engineers As Teachers: Bringing Cutting Edge Math And Science Topics Into Underprivileged Classrooms Via Student And Professional Engineers Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16941

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015