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Incorporating Scientific Analysis And Problem Solving Skills Into A Physics And Engineering Summer Course

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Conference

2009 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Innovations in Teaching Physics or Engineering Physics

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

Page Count

15

Page Numbers

14.723.1 - 14.723.15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/5489

Download Count

47

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Paper Authors

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Jennifer Franck California Institute of Technology

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Jennifer Franck is a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology studying computational fluid dynamics. She received her M.S. in Aeronautics from Caltech and her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia. She is a co-director for the outreach program Caltech Classroom Connection, and was a YESS instructor for two years before becoming physics and engineering curriculum coordinator in 2008.

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Ted Yu California Institute of Technology

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Ted Yu is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology. He received his B.S. in Chemistry/Materials Science from UCLA and his M.S. in Materials Science from U.C. Berkeley. While at Berkeley, he was a teaching assistant for Chem 1A, an introductory chemistry class. His research interest involves atomistic level simulations of fuel cells and batteries. Ted was a physics instructor for the 2008 YESS program.

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Juan Pedro Ochoa-Ricoux California Institute of Technology

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J. P. Ochoa-Ricoux was born in Mexico city in 1980. He obtained his B.S. in Physics Engineering with Honors from the ITESM (Monterrey Tech) in 2003. Since then he has been a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology, where he studies the phenomenon of neutrino oscillations in the MINOS Experiment at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He was a YESS physics instructor for 2007-2008, and is the curriculum coordinator for the 2009 program.

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James Maloney California Institute of Technology

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James Maloney is Director of the Caltech Classroom Connection, a science and engineering outreach program at the California Institute of Technology that targets the local K-12 public school system. He received his M.S. in physics from Caltech for his work in the field of nano-scale mechanical resonators, and a B.S. in physics from the University of Florida. James was a YESS physics instructor in 2007 and 2008.

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Angela Capece California Institute of Technology

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Angela Capece is a Ph.D. student at the California Institute of Technology. The focus of her research is on plasma-surface interactions and surface chemistry in hollow cathode discharges for ion propulsion. Angela received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University in 2005, and a M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Caltech in 2007. Angela served as a physics instructor for the 2008 YESS Program.

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Luz Rivas California Institute of Technology

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Luz Rivas is Assistant Director of Minority Student Education at the California Institute of Technology, and has been coordinating the YESS Program since 2007. She received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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

Incorporating Scientific Analysis and Problem-Solving Skills into a Physics and Engineering Summer Course

Abstract

The Young Engineering and Science Scholars (YESS) three-week summer program offered by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) recruits and inspires talented high school students towards engineering and science career paths. The program is geared towards high- achieving, but traditionally underrepresented minority students in science and engineering who have demonstrated excellent academic records in math and science. This paper describes the science and engineering course offered by the program including its objectives, teaching philosophies, and its mentoring process for design and research projects. Assessment is performed using the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) and shows excellent student gains when compared with other college-level physics courses. Student surveys and feedback on the program, the course, and general science and engineering attitudes are also discussed, and recommendations for future courses are provided.

Introduction

Pre-college science and engineering programs offer students an opportunity to explore careers in science and engineering. For high-achieving students who have already shown aptitude in mathematics and science a university outreach program can challenge them beyond the traditional classroom environment, providing first-hand exposure to research scientists and engineers as well as an introduction to the university science and engineering culture. The Young Engineering and Science Scholars (YESS) program 1 is for college-bound high school juniors and seniors of underrepresented minority groups who have strong academic credentials and an inclination towards science and engineering disciplines. The goals of the program are to nurture their interests in science and engineering through challenging academic courses, faculty lectures, and tours of the Caltech campus and research laboratories, while introducing them to the Caltech undergraduate lifestyle. YESS builds upon scientific knowledge through analytical thinking that will help students succeed at competitive science and engineering undergraduate programs.

Many other universities have similar outreach and recruitment programs that range in size and duration, and target various student demographics. Programs that most closely resemble the goals and demographics of the YESS program are MIT’s Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) 2 and Carnegie Mellon’s Summer Academy for Mathematics and Science (SAMS) 3. These programs are both longer in duration and enrollment, offer more courses including mathematics, and due to the larger size offer various ability levels for some courses.

In contrast, the YESS program offers only two classes, “Neuroscience” and “Physics and Engineering”, each instructed by a team of five graduate students and research staff from a variety of disciplines at Caltech. The courses are designed to be representative of Caltech, providing a glimpse of the undergraduate lifestyle, academic rigor, and active research interests. Similar to the Institute, the YESS program has a remarkably low instructor to student ratio of 3:1, allowing for great amounts of formal and informal interaction with active researchers. Since

Franck, J., & Yu, T., & Ochoa-Ricoux, J. P., & Maloney, J., & Capece, A., & Rivas, L. (2009, June), Incorporating Scientific Analysis And Problem Solving Skills Into A Physics And Engineering Summer Course Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5489

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: © 2009 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