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Girls CREATE: Teaching K-8 Girls Engineering Principles through Illustrative Story Telling

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-College Engineering Division Curriculum Exchange

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.643.1 - 24.643.2



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Paper Authors


Adrian Lee Central Illinois Technology and Education Research Institute

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Dr. Adrian Lee received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009, specializing in probability and risk analysis of aviation security systems. Dr. Lee served as a post-doctoral research engineer at Vishwamitra Research Institute, Center for Uncertain Systems: Tools for Optimization and Management, and is currently President of Central Illinois Technology and Education Research Institute. Dr. Lee also holds an adjunct academic position in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and is a member of the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). His research interests include STEM education, probability and statistics, and stochastic optimization.

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LEGO Theater: Teaching K-8 Girls Engineering Principles through Illustrative Story Telling (curriculum exchange) The educational research community is currently exploring new ways to establishopportunities aimed at increasing the number of females pursuing STEM related careers.Whether new curriculum is introduced within school hours or after school programs, it remainsessential this transformation in learning does not lessen the emphasis placed on traditional, well-established subjects. Indeed, a cross-disciplinary approach to correlating engineering principlesto standard science, math, and literacy concepts can help prepare students for specializedengineering subjects, while also reinforcing creativity and writing skills. This work aims tointroduce students to engineering at an early age by providing an environment for femalestudents in 3rd -8th grades to work together and learn about various modern day issues throughthe use of LEGO StoryStarter. The instructional material is intended to encourage the students tocontemplate the type of problems scientists and engineers encounter, and how the resultingsolutions help improve our society’s capabilities. By utilizing cutting edge technology andsoftware, the program’s curriculum includes projects designed to prepare students for their futureacademic careers and teach them about the role of technology in society. Girls CREATE (Composing Relationships through Engineering, Artistic, and TeachingExperiences) is an after school program that combines elements of scientific and artistic designusing narrative and illustrative techniques to portray connections between various engineeringproblems and their potential solutions. Students use computer (PC & tablet) softwareapplications and LEGO StoryStarter to compose short stories depicting common engineeringproblems and their existing or potential solutions. The students use LEGO components toconstruct scenes depicting a specific engineering problem (e.g., environmental, energy, health,safety), as well as illustrating a known or creative solution. Pictures of the scenes are importedinto the LEGO StoryVisualizer software or captured using a stop motion application (e.g., SAMAnimation Software/myCreate, iMotion HD) to produce an artistic reflection upon the posedproblem. The younger students form interpersonal relationships by working together in smallgroups, while 7th and 8th grade students gain teaching experience as group leaders. By forming asocial, collaborative environment, the Girls CREATE program encourages future interest inscience, engineering, and technology through the strengthening of creative writing skills. Methods used to determine the program’s success include the collection of student and parentsurveys for qualitative evaluation of the program’s content and students’ level of interest. Schoolteachers are consulted to synchronize concepts taught in class to the program content in an effortto reinforce the students’ science and literacy skills. Long term effects of this program can bedetermined as the participants progress into high school, where enrollment in elective courses –including computer programming, engineering, and specialized art classes, for example – can bemonitored.

Lee, A. (2014, June), Girls CREATE: Teaching K-8 Girls Engineering Principles through Illustrative Story Telling Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20534

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