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Foundations and Effectiveness of an Afterschool Engineering Program for Middle School Students

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Conference

2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Middle School Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count

13

Page Numbers

25.647.1 - 25.647.13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/21404

Download Count

39

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Paper Authors

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Richard H. Crawford University of Texas, Austin

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Richard H. Crawford is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas, Austin, and is the Temple Foundation Endowed Faculty Fellow No. 3. He received his B.S.M.E. from Louisiana State University in 1982 and his M.S.M.E. in 1985 and Ph.D. in 1989, both from Purdue University. He joined the faculty of UT in Jan. 1990 and teaches mechanical engineering design and geometry modeling for design. Crawford's research interests span topics in computer-aided mechanical design and design theory and methodology, including research in computer representations to support conceptual design, design for manufacture and assembly, and design retrieval; developing computational representations and tools to support exploration of very complex engineering design spaces; research in solid freeform fabrication, including geometric processing, control, design tools, manufacturing applications; and design and development of energy harvesting systems. Crawford is co-founder of the DTEACh program, a Design Technology program for K-12, and is active on the faculty of the UTeachEngineering program that seeks to educate teachers of high school engineering.

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Christina Kay White University of Texas, Austin

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Chandra L. Muller University of Texas, Austin

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Chandra Muller is Professor of Sociology at University of Texas, Austin. She studies the transition from adolescence to adulthood with a focus on the pathways into STEM fields.

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Anthony J. Petrosino Jr. University of Texas, Austin

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Anthony Petrosino is a Learning Scientist and an Associate Professor of Science and Mathematics Education and the Elizabeth G. Gibb Endowed Fellow at The University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University where he was a member of the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (CTGV) for five years. While doing his doctoral work, Petrosino was a NASA Space Grant Fellow funded through the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He was a seven-year member of the NSF-funded VaNTH ERC and a Principle Investigator of a Department of Education funded PT3 grant. His additional research interests include informal science learning, engineering education, and the development of expertise. While at the University of Texas, Austin, he helped establish the UTeach Teacher Preparation Program. Petrosino taught secondary science for seven years and is a certified K-12 teacher of science. In addition, he was an Assistant Superintendent of Schools for two years and was also a secondary school administrator for three years. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Science Education and Technology, the Journal of the Learning Sciences, Mathematical Thinking and Learning, Educational Computing Research, and the American Educational Research Journal.

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Austin B. Talley P.E. University of Texas, Austin

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Austin Talley is a graduate student in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Texas, Austin, a Cockrell Fellow, and a licensed Professional Engineer. His research focus is in design methodology with universal design and engineering education. He has received his B.S. from Texas A&M University and M.S.E. from the University of Texas, Austin. Contact: Austin@talleyweb.com.

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Kristin L. Wood University of Texas, Austin

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Kristin L. Wood is currently a professor, Head of Pillar, and Co-director of the International Design Center (IDC) at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). Wood completed his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering (Division of Engineering and Applied Science) at the California Institute of Technology, where he was an AT&T Bell Laboratories Ph.D. Scholar. Wood joined the faculty at the University of Texas in Sept. 1989 and established a computational and experimental laboratory for research in engineering design and manufacturing. He was a National Science Foundation Young Investigator, the Cullen Trust for Higher Education Endowed Professor in Engineering, and University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas, Austin.

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Abstract

Foundations and Effectiveness of an Afterschool Engineering Program for Middle School Students AbstractCalls for improving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education inthe United States are well-known and well-publicized. This attention has led to efforts tointroduce engineering in the K-12 grades. Several states have adopted or are consideringadopting standards for pre-college engineering, and a number of off-the-shelf curricula areavailable for teaching pre-college engineering, particularly at the high school level. While K-12schools are just beginning to offer courses in engineering, many more informal, afterschoolprograms that focus on engineering have been available for a number of years. However, theeffects of these afterschool programs are not as easily documented and are therefore not well-studied.In this paper, we describe a novel afterschool engineering program targeted for middle schoolgrades. The afterschool program builds on our many years of experience in conductingengineering-based professional development for K-12 teachers. The program is founded on athree-pronged approach of: 1) engaging students in inquiry-based learning opportunities thatencourage practice of key STEM concepts, development of analytical skills, and increasedawareness of STEM college and career pathways; 2) professional development and support forteachers to guide students in meaningful engineering design activities and targeted STEMcollege and career pathway investigation; and 3) informing parents and caregivers of the fullrange of STEM college and career pathway options so that they may support and encourage theirstudents’ pursuit of STEM-related educational and professional goals. The curriculum for theprogram features motivation of engineering concepts with readily-available technologyexamples, and team-based design projects with NAE 21st Century Grand Challenges themes.Professional development is integrated into our existing program of institutes, and we havecreated activity-based presentations for parents/caregivers to provide insight into the academicconsiderations for preparing their students for college and STEM careers.The evaluation strategy for our afterschool program includes student surveys administered in thefall and spring semesters (e.g., before and after the programs), as well as in-depth informationfrom focus groups. The findings from the initial evaluation indicate that students in the targetgrades throughout the school district exhibited an increasingly positive attitude towardengineering and science-related careers. Among participants in the afterschool program, thepercentage of students with positive attitudes toward careers in engineering increasedsignificantly from 45% to 71% from the fall to the spring. Likewise, teachers who participated inthe program noted positive changes in themselves that they translated into strategies for teachingin their classrooms.

Crawford, R. H., & White, C. K., & Muller, C. L., & Petrosino, A. J., & Talley, A. B., & Wood, K. L. (2012, June), Foundations and Effectiveness of an Afterschool Engineering Program for Middle School Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/21404

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