June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Pre-College Engineering Education
This is a report of the findings of a five-year project to promote the use of Science & Engineering Fairs in middle and high school science curriculums. Our focus was to support the use of Fairs in low income, rural, and underperforming schools.
Background Science and Engineering (S&E) Fairs are a widely used educational activity that are believed to increase students’ creativity, engagement, and learning in science and engineering through student-driven inquiry projects. Proponents also argue that S&E fairs enhance students’ interest in pursuing science college majors and science careers.Our questions during this project included 1. Did students who participated in a school fair show increased science interest, value, or efficacy? 2. What kinds of transformative experiences did students who completed projects report?
Methods Teachers administered a pre- and post-fair survey of science and fair-related attitudes to students in their science classes that included both students who did and did not complete S&E projectsMeasures of science interest and value were administered as well as the “transformative experiences” survey, which assessed how much projects motivated students to engage deeply in the topic.
Results We compared three groups of students: those who did not complete a project, those who completed a project but did not advance to the regional fair, and those who did advance to the regional fair. We ran ANCOVA analyses to control for pre-fair attitudes. There were no significant differences of participating compared to not participating, but completing a project that advanced to regional was associated with having higher science efficacy and value, but not interest.
Comparing these groups for transformative experience, we found students who went on to the state fair were more likely to report having transformative experiences in the realms of motivated use and expanded perception, but not in experiential value.
These results suggest that science and engineering fairs have positive impacts on student attitudes towards science when they are high enough quality to advance to the regional fair. More research Is needed on whether the project itself precipitated these changes, or if more engaged students also benefitted more from the fair.
Lakin, J. M., & Ewald, M. L., & Davis, V. A. (2019, June), Getting Everyone to the Fair: Who Participates in and Benefits from Science and Engineering Fairs (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32872
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