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Enhancing K-12 Education with Engineering Outreach

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Robots and K-12 Computer Applications

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.531.1 - 23.531.9



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Paper Authors


Cheryl D. Seals Auburn University

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Dr. Cheryl Seals is an associate professor in Auburn University's Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering. She graduated with a B.S. C.S. from Grambling State University, M.S. C.S. from North Carolina A&T State University and a Ph.D. C.S. from Virginia Tech. Seals conducts research in Human Computer Interaction with an emphasis in visual programming of educational simulations, user interface design and evaluation, and educational gaming technologies. Dr. Seals also works with computing outreach initiatives to improve CS education at all levels by a focused approach to increase the computing pipeline by getting students interested in STEM disciplines and future technology careers. One of these initiatives is the STARS Alliance ( with programs in K-12 outreach, community service, student leadership and computing diversity research.

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Earl B. Smith Georgia Southern University

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Dr. Earl B. Smith is a visiting assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Southern University. He graduated with a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech, a master of science in Engineering from Prairie View A&M University, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University. Dr. Smith’s work experience includes being a contract employee at AT&T Bell Laboratories, performing surveying work for the Jackson Electric Membership Corporation, and summer internships at the Atlanta Gas Light Company and Sandia National Laboratories. In addition to Georgia Southern, he has taught at Texas A&M, Prairie View A&M and Tuskegee Universities. His research interests include fuzzy logic, control system design and intelligent systems. He is a member of ASME, ACM, ASEE, Tau Beta Pi and Pi Tau Sigma.

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Enhancing K-12 Education with Engineering OutreachK-12 STEM Education is greatly in need of improvement in Alabama. According to rankings ofsmartest states, Alabama’s ranking has been consistently falling and last year dropped 2% downto number 45 out of 50 states. Our program has been working for the last 6 years our engineeringand computing outreach programs have improved students STEM exposure, logical reasoning,reading and problem solving skills. We accomplish this by infusing specialized computing andeducational gaming technology into the classroom and afterschool programs to reinvigorate K-12students in our local area as a model for student computing engagement. Our researchinvestigates methods to energize students through intrinsic motivation to work harder and toachieve a brighter future and to support the future STEM workforce.We want to build STEM workforce by providing more technology training to students at earlierages to potentially increase future enrollments. A prominent problem has been falling enrollmentrates in STEM (e.g. computing based majors). Student interest in computer science was fallingworldwide and between 2000 and 2005 incoming freshman interest in computer science droppedby 70% in the U.S. (Kelleher, 2007). The Taulbee survey found that computer scienceenrollment at research universities dropped by 50% (Vegso, 2006). It also indicated that 84.9%of bachelor's degrees were awarded to men in computer science. As a result, literature wasexplored to provide tools and ideas to apply to take a step towards providing a solution.In order to keep attracting the brightest minds in a more diverse context, the computer sciencecommunity must ensure that new computing-based technologies and curricula meet the diverseneeds of the global population and find ways to attract and retain a more diverse student groups.Mentoring and more exposure to computing can increase recruitment and retentionWe have found growing interest by youth in video gaming and our hope is to leverage thisphenomenon to draw more students into computing fields. In many cases this is a great techniquefor recruiting. In searching for innovative ways to make computer science more appealing tostudents, educators must think fundamentally about what culturally relevant innovations can beused to enrich computer science and related STEM disciplines. Making changes to the methodsof student’s first introduction can greatly affect future interests and enrollments. When creatingand modifying curricula, we must identify ways to motivate students of both genders and a widervariety of backgrounds.The lessons for our computing and technology club were designed to nurture junior scientists anddevelop their skills in general scientific problem solving. The foundation for the lesson plansutilized Alabama Course of Study Science Objectives as a guide. The students met their teachersand programming assistants weekly for 6-9 weeks. Students also had extra sessions with teachersto promote “Thinking like a Scientist” activities. Each school concentrated on differentactivities: Electricity, Spring Forces & Motion and Space and other fundamental engineeringconcepts. Some of the other activities involved Lego Robotics; Scratch Programming; & AliceProgramming.

Seals, C. D., & Smith, E. B. (2013, June), Enhancing K-12 Education with Engineering Outreach Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19545

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