June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.726.1 - 12.726.9
Exposing High School Students to the Role of Engineering and Advanced Materials in Developing Alternative Energy Sources Introduction
There is an unprecedented need to foster a new awareness of and interest in engineering careers in the American workforce of tomorrow currently in the K-12 pipeline. The American College Testing organization reports that in the decade from 1992-2002, its surveys indicate a precipitous drop (from 9% to 6%) in US high school students interested in majoring in engineering. Additionally, there is the recurring problem of the lack of math and science preparedness among US students. Many programs have been started to address these problems. One of these is a growing movement towards teaming college faculty with K-12. The ASEE Engineering K-12 Center seeks to promote awareness and knowledge of engineering and technology as tools for advancing achievement in K-12 science and mathematics teaching and learning. As an active part of this effort, the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University operates a summer camp-based Engineering Starters Program, with each camp lasting two weeks. It is well known that laboratories and demonstrations add information and interest to science and engineering courses 1. Laboratory exercises provide a great opportunity to expose students to ‘real materials’ in an active learning environment. Such exercises also provide a mean to satisfy important learning objectives and the ability to conduct experiments, analyze and interpret data 2. Our program centers on a series of interactive lectures in a lab setting, with relevant experiments immediately following. There are extensive pre-experiment discussions and comparison with actual results in post-experiment discussions. These are supplemented by lab tours of graduate and faculty research labs and interactions with those researchers, who also provide them with additional simple experiments to give them a feel of the scope and value of the research problem being investigated. Our paper discusses a specific module and an experiment to expose the students to electrical and electro-chemical engineering concepts and the challenges and opportunities of alternative energy sources such as fuel cells. In the summer of 2006, this camp was offered to a batch of about 25 high school students (9th – 11th grade) and about 25 middle school students (7th – 8th grade).
Introduction of Energy Concepts
The module begins with a detailed overview of the different sources of energy and their impact on the environment was discussed. Before the instructor presents, we ask the students about the chief sources of environmental pollution. High school students readily identify automobiles and chemical industries as major sources, showing their general awareness about the environment. The presentation discusses the major role of petroleum-based energies (gasoline and diesel, for instance) in transportation and the manufacturing and utility sectors. The gasoline energy cycle and its effect on the environment are illustrated with an easy-to-grasp slide (Fig. 1). The cycle explains the process of oil extraction from wells, followed by crude oil processing and finally distribution of the refined products (gasoline, diesel, natural gas, etc). The engineering operations behind these stages are explained to the students. Fig. 1 shows tailpipe emissions at the end of the gasoline cycle. The typical chemical analysis of tailpipe gases is presented, and their environmental impact is discussed.
Rajaram, G., & Pai, D., & Sankar, J. (2007, June), Exposing High School Students To The Role Of Engineering And Advanced Materials In Developing Alternative Energy Sources Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2734
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