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Incorporating Engineering Research Experiences Into High School Physical Science Curricula

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Engineering Collaboration: Faculty & Student in K-12 Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.711.1 - 15.711.11



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Paper Authors


Holly Anthony

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Holly Anthony, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at Tennessee Tech University, and Co-PI on the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded outreach program, Research Experience for Teachers in Manufacturing for Competitiveness in the US (RETainUS).

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Josh Price

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Josh Price teaches Physical Science at Clay County High School, TN.

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Joe Harris

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Joe Harris teaches Physical Science at Cookeville High School in Putnam County, TN.

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

Incorporating Engineering Research Experiences into High School Physical Science Curricula


As high school teachers, it is rare that we have the opportunity to see the engineering applications for the mathematics and science concepts we teach. In Summer 2009, however, we participated in a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) project at Tennessee Tech University. Our research experiences varied: the second author conducted research that explored pack cementation processes and the variables affecting the aluminide coatings on nickel-based alloys in terms of composition and microstructure. Pack runs were conducted on the samples using different methods. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to look at both microstructure and composition. The third author researched creep strength in alloys with particular interest in whether there were significant differences in creep performance between a lever arm apparatus and a direct load apparatus.

As a result of the RET experience, we each developed a Legacy Cycle module (curriculum unit) that engaged our high school students in (1) a study of metals and ways to increase those metals’ ability to withstand high ambient temperatures (in the context of an airplane crash investigation), and (2) a study of creep, stress, and strain tests and how to apply these tests to investigate the properties of aluminum foil. These modules placed students in the role of an investigator and required them to become researchers—giving them ownership in their learning.

This poster session will highlight features of these legacy cycles and showcase our students’ outcomes and products as a result of their engagement in the module. We approached the implementation of a legacy cycle module with both excitement and hesitation, but were pleased to see that our student outcomes were exceptionally positive. The Legacy Cycle model for lesson planning and implementation proved effective as a means for bringing engineering concepts and research into our high school science classrooms.

The Legacy Cycle Model

The Legacy Cycle design (see Figure 1) makes use of a contextually based “challenge” followed by a sequence of instruction where the students offer initial predictions (Generate Ideas), gather information from multiple sources (Multiple Perspectives), integrate the knowledge gathered and extend this knowledge (Research and Revise), and finally the students formalize their solutions in formative and summative assessment activities (Test your Mettle and Go Public).1

This process allows students to construct meaning of concepts and make connections, which is strongly associated with students’ ability to use knowledge effectively in diverse situations.2 The Legacy Cycle benefits students by positioning them to understand material by providing time for them to reveal prior misconceptions and demonstrate changes in thinking. The challenge question provides a real-world context, which prompts learners to utilize concepts as opposed to memorizing facts, increasing comprehension and adaptive reasoning.1

Anthony, H., & Price, J., & Harris, J. (2010, June), Incorporating Engineering Research Experiences Into High School Physical Science Curricula Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16276

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