Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Pre-College Engineering Education
This paper discusses the level of interest of middle school students’ in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields as well as the factors influencing their interest. The paper also discusses their parents’ perceptions of those fields. Students attended an outreach summer engineering camp designed to increase the interest and motivation of middle school students to go into STEM fields, specifically engineering. This camp is part of a seven year grant funded by the Department of Education as part of the GEAR UP program. The grant’s overall goal is to help more than 3,000 middle and high school students’ improve their academic achievement, creating a pipeline of academically prepared students enrolling and excelling in college. The engineering summer camp targets 6 to 12th grade underrepresented students and science teachers. The engineering camp discussed here is one component of the GEAR UP grant.
Participating students and teachers spent a week preforming real engineering research investigation in collaboration with engineering research faculty at a land grant university to study the interaction of urban and natural areas and their effect on water quality in a local water shed. During the summer camp, teacher and student participants developed engineering research hypotheses, tested those hypotheses and thought like engineers. The summer camp culminated in research posters and slide (PowerPoint) presentations where teams of students led by a science teacher described the research findings of their week-long camp. The teams discussed an engineering research hypothesis and a simple experiment to follow to verify that hypothesis helping them think like engineers.
Participating students were given surveys to complete at the beginning and at the end of the summer camp. Those surveys included questions about their interest in STEM, their engagement with STEM and their friends’ perception of science. Similarly, the parents of participating students completed surveys about their education, income and perception of science, math and engineering. While the parents did not attend the camp, they were involved via a blog that was created to keep the parents updated about the camp activities and get them involved. The blog was updated daily with a short description of the activities of the day, photos/video of the day, as well as a link to all the photos/videos taken that day. The blog also contained quotes from the students’ daily journals. Data from both students and parents was analyzed and correlated to find the factors influencing the students’ interest.
Results showed a positive trend for both students and parents. The students’ interest in STEM fields increased, particularly for those students who started the camp with low interest. The parents’ perception of STEM also improved after their children attended the camp. Factors influencing the students’ interest in STEM fields included the grades they achieve in their science and math courses, their level of STEM engagement, the perception of their friends towards STEM fields and the perception of their parents regarding science and engineering.
Mahmoud, M. M., & Becker, K. H., & Longhurst, M. L., & Dupont, R. R., & Mesner, N., & Dorward, J. (2018, June), Factors Influencing the Interest Level of Secondary Students going into STEM fields and their parents’ perceived interest in STEM (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30507
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