June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Engineering Physics & Physics
14.723.1 - 14.723.15
Incorporating Scientific Analysis and Problem-Solving Skills into a Physics and Engineering Summer Course
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.
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. 10.18260/1-2--5489
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