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From Egg Drops To Gumdrops: Teaching Fourth Grade Students About Engineering

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Teamwork, K-12: Projects to Promote Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.584.1 - 8.584.9



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Paper Authors

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David Chesney

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

Session 2003-122

From Egg Drops to Gum Drops: Teaching Fourth Grade Students about Engineering

David R. Chesney The University of Michigan

Abstract Students remember 80% of what they do and 20% of what they hear. With this premise in mind, the author developed an active approach to educating a classroom of fourth grade students in multiple areas of engineering. The intent is minimally, to increase interest in math and science in the young students. Optimally, the students will pursue engineering as a career. Hands-on activities were used to demonstrate six different areas of engineering over an academic year, such as launching rockets (Aerospace Engineering) and building bridges (Civil Engineering). A typical classroom session was comprised of a 10-15 minute introduction of the topic, 60 minutes of students constructing and testing a project, and 10-15 minutes discussing the results. The approach was applied to a fourth grade class of twenty students in Brighton, Michigan and was judged a success by faculty and students.

Introduction “I never knew engineering could be so fun. When I grow up, I’m either going to be an engineer or an actor. Sincerely, Maddy”

The motivations for the project include recent statistical trends in math, science, and engineering education. Recent studies have shown that many female elementary students diverge from interest in Math and Science at the fourth to fifth grade level 1,2. Reasons for the divergence include implicit or explicit bias within the classroom, lack of role models, and subsequent decreased peer support.

In addition (and on a broader scale), the number of undergraduate degrees awarded in engineering has been steadily and consistently decreasing over the past decade 3. Specifically, the percentage of degrees awarded in engineering and engineering technology decreased by 4 percent between 1990 and 1995, and an additional 7 percent between 1995 and 2000.

Finally, on a personal level, the author is both a practicing engineer (Mechanical and Computer Science) and the father of three daughters. Because of my background and lifelong interest in Math and Science, I would choose not to have the noted divergence occur in my home.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Chesney, D. (2003, June), From Egg Drops To Gumdrops: Teaching Fourth Grade Students About Engineering Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11506

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