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Gearup: Teaching Engineering, Science, And Mathematics To Junior High And High School Students Through The Use Of K’nex Bridges

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Conference

2008 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Innovative K-12 Engineering Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count

10

Page Numbers

13.637.1 - 13.637.10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/4196

Download Count

30

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Paper Authors

biography

Heath Tims Louisiana Tech University

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Dr. Heath Tims is an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at Louisiana Tech University. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Louisiana Tech University in 2001. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, in 2003 and 2005 respectively. His research focus is dynamic systems, modeling, and controls. He is also involved with STEM educational research at the college and pre-college level.

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Galen Turner Louisiana Tech University

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Dr. Galen Turner III is the Maxfield Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Louisiana Tech University. He received his B.S. from Loyola University, New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1992 with majors in Mathematics and Religious Studies. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mathematics from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, in 1994 and 1999 respectively. His current research is in the area of graph minors and computational mathematics as related to a number of interdisciplinary areas of study. In addition to research collaboration, Dr. Turner has served as an educational consultant for centers in Texas and Louisiana.

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Don Schillinger Louisiana Tech University

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Dr. Don Schillinger is an associate professor in the College of Eduation at Louisiana Tech University. He received his B.S in Chemistry Education in 1995 from the University of Central Florida. He received his M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction – Science Education from the University of Mississippi in 2002 and 2004, respectively.

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

GEAR UP: Teaching Engineering, Science, and Mathematics to Junior High and High School Students through the use of K’Nex Bridges

Abstract

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.

Introduction

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. https://peer.asee.org/4196

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