June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
13.637.1 - 13.637.10
GEAR UP: Teaching Engineering, Science, and Mathematics to Junior High and High School Students through the use of K’Nex Bridges
Building Bridges to the Future is a GEAR UP program developed by mathematics, science, engineering, and education faculty from Louisiana Tech University. The primary goal of the project is to expose students from under-performing schools to mathematics, science, engineering, and literacy subject areas. Faculty members from the College of Engineering and Science have teamed up with the College of Education to develop engaging projects aimed at junior high and high school students. These projects utilize K’Nex bridges kits as a means for providing a hands-on learning environment. Building Bridges to the Future includes aspects of team and collaborative learning, as well as literacy in the teaching of math, science, and engineering principles.
During the summer of 2007, 41 junior high and 54 high school students, from throughout the state of Louisiana participated in the summer camps. Of this group, the majority of the students were from under-represented groups. Material for the camps centered on building bridges. By designing small-scale K’Nex bridges, the students have to apply the math, science, and engineering they are learning to a real-world problem. During the course of the week, the students continually add to their skill set, and the week culminates with a design competition and a field trip to view bridges in the local area. Experiences indicate that topics which utilize hands- on activities and lead to a design competition will motivate students.
Results of the project include documented pre and post test scores, activities developed, as well as student attitudes toward math, science, and engineering.
Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a major focus of the United States Department of Education. It is well documented (National Science Board) that enrollment in science based programs has been declining since the 1980s1. To ensure competitiveness in a changing global economy, the Board strongly recommends national-level action to provide more graduates in science and engineering based fields. (The Science and Engineering Workforce: Realizing America’s Potential)2.
GEAR UP efforts focus on schools where more than 50% of the student population is eligible for free or reduced lunch under the National School Lunch Act. Students in the selected districts were judged to have above-average needs, based on four criteria: 59% or more of the district's students are eligible for free or reduced lunch; the district's composite ACT score is 19.6 or lower; the percentage of first-time college freshmen is 42.7% or lower; and the percentage of freshmen requiring remedial courses is 45.6% or higher.
A summer camp program was developed by the mathematics, science, engineering, and education faculty. The primary goal of the camp is to expose junior high and high school
Tims, H., & Turner, G., & Schillinger, D. (2008, June), Gearup: Teaching Engineering, Science, And Mathematics To Junior High And High School Students Through The Use Of K’nex Bridges Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4196
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015