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Informal Pathways to Engineering

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.747.1 - 23.747.11



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Paper Authors


Monica E Cardella Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Monica Cardella is an assistant professor of engineering education at Purdue University. She is also the director of Informal Learning Environments Research for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Learning and Research (INSPIRE). She conducts research on undergraduate engineering students' design and mathematical thinking in formal and informal contexts in addition to research on how children develop engineering thinking in informal learning environments.

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Marisa Wolsky WGBH Educational Foundation

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Marisa Wolsky is an executive producer at WGBH Educational Foundation with over 20 years of experience turning STEM content into entertaining and educational media. Ms. Wolsky is the principal investigator for the NSF-funded series Design Squad, for which she oversees all aspects of the production, translating its engineering content into entertaining across many platforms. She is also senior producer for the NSF-funded preschool science series Peep and the Big Wide World, responsible for managing its production and working closely with the series’ advisors to oversee the implementation of Peep’s educationally rich science curriculum. Prior to this, she worked on the development and production of many children’s series, including Long Ago and Far Away, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?, Arthur, and ZOOM. Ms. Wolsky holds a B.A. in American Studies from Barnard College at Columbia University.

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Christine Andrews Paulsen Concord Evaluation Group

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Dr. Christine Andrews Paulsen is founder of Concord Evaluation Group (CEG) in Massachusetts. Dr. Paulsen holds a Ph.D. in education research, evaluation, and measurement from the University of Pennsylvania. She has been conducting evaluation research since 1990 and, prior to CEG, worked for the Institute for Social Analysis and the American Institutes for Research. Dr. Paulsen routinely directs evaluations of STEM-related projects in informal settings, focusing on learners as well as practitioners. Her main research interest lies in evaluating the use of learning technologies that hold the promise of enhancing the lives of traditionally underprivileged populations (children, parents, and communities).

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Tamecia R. Jones Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Tamecia Jones received a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University, a M.A. in Learning, Design, and Technology from Stanford University, and a M.Div. from Boston University School of Theology. She taught middle school math and science for three years, consulted with pre-college programs, and nonprofits and museums. The focus of her doctoral research is assessment in K-12 engineering education.

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Informal  Pathways  to  Engineering    Roughly  85%  of  a  child's  time  (waking  hours)  is  spent  in  out-­‐of-­‐school  settings.  Therefore,  as  we  consider  increasing  pre-­‐college  students'  awareness  of  engineering,  along  with  the  need  to  broaden  diverse  participation  in  engineering  and  promote  a  more  engineering-­‐literate  populous,  it  is  important  to  not  only  consider  how  children  learn  about  engineering  in  school  environments,  but  also  how  they  learn  about  engineering  in  out-­‐of-­‐school  settings.    This  project  seeks  to  investigate  the  effect  of  informal,  out-­‐of-­‐school  learning  activities  on  students'  interest  in  engineering  and  decisions  to  engage  in  engineering-­‐related  activities  (leading  to  choices  to  study  engineering  in  college).  The  study  builds  on  the  success  of  the  "Design  Squad,"  an  NSF-­‐funded,  multimedia  program  for  middle  school  children  that  includes  television  episodes  broadcast  nationally  on  PBS,  an  interactive  website,  and  hands-­‐on  engineering  activities.  The  study  uses  a  longitudinal  study  design  where  children,  parents  and  educators  (both  classroom  teachers  and  informal  educators)  are  interviewed  and  surveyed  to  collect  data,  which  will  be  analyzed  using  social  cognitive  career  theory.      The  broader  significance  and  importance  of  this  project  will  be  to  support  the  informal  engineering  field's  ability  to  inspire  more  children  to  pursue  engineering  pathways  (from  initial  interest  in  engineering  to  choices  in  college  majors  and  an  ultimate  career  as  a  professional  engineer).  The  project  builds  on  strong  partnerships  with  many  youth  organizations,  such  as  the  Girl  Scouts  of  the  USA,  FIRST  and  the  National  Engineers  Week  Foundation.  This  project  includes  not  only  a  research  program,  but  also  the  development  of  new  web-­‐resources  that  can  further  promote  children's  interest  in  and  understanding  of  engineering.    

Cardella, M. E., & Wolsky, M., & Paulsen, C. A., & Jones, T. R. (2013, June), Informal Pathways to Engineering Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19761

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