June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
NSF Grantees Poster Session
24.746.1 - 24.746.15
Informal Pathways to EngineeringRoughly 85% of a child's time (waking hours) is spent in out-of-school settings. Therefore, as weconsider increasing pre-college students' awareness of engineering, along with the need tobroaden diverse participation in engineering and promote a more engineering-literate populous, itis 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 investigates the effects of informal, out-of-school learning activities on students'interest in engineering and decisions to engage in engineering-related activities (leading tochoices to study engineering in college). The study builds on the success of “Design Squad,” anNSF-funded, multimedia program for middle school children that includes television episodesbroadcast nationally on PBS, an interactive website, and hands-on engineering activities. Thestudy uses a longitudinal study design where middle-school aged children (from two differentgeographic regions), parents and educators (both classroom teachers and informal educators) areinterviewed and surveyed to collect data, and data is analyzed using social cognitive careertheory.The broader significance and importance of this project will be to support the informalengineering field’s ability to inspire more children to pursue engineering pathways (from initialinterest in engineering to choices in college majors and an ultimate career as a professionalengineer). The project builds on strong partnerships with many youth organizations, such as theGirl Scouts of the USA, FIRST and the National Engineers Week Foundation. This projectincludes not only a research program, but also the development of new web-resources that canfurther promote children's interest in and understanding of engineering.
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