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Inspiring Future Electrical Engineers Through Science Teachers

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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

High School Engineering Education

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.745.1 - 15.745.15



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Paper Authors


Todd Kaiser Montana State University

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Todd J. Kaiser is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Montana State University. He holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, a M.S. in Physics from Oregon State University and a B.S. in Physics from Montana State University. His current focus areas include microfabricated sensors and actuators.

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Peggy Taylor Montana State University

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Carolyn Plumb Montana State University


Howard Tenenbaum La Jolla High School, San Diego Unified School District

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Howard Tenenbaum, MS, is currently teaching high school environmental science and physics. He graduated from the Master of Science in Science Education (MSSE) program in summer 2009. He holds an undergraduate degree in Soil Science from California Polytechnic University, Pomona. Tenenbaum has 15 years of experience as a science teacher at the secondary level which included two years at the American International School in Lisbon, Portugal. Tenenbaum has taught general science, and environmental science, physics, and chemistry, both at the advanced placement and regular levels. Prior to teaching, Tenenbaum gained valuable research experience while working in pharmaceutical research and development.

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Seth Hodges St. Michael Indian School, St. Michaels, AZ

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Seth Hodges, B.Ed., is in his fourth year of teaching science on the Navajo Indian Reservation in St. Michaels, Arizona. After a lengthy career in the U.S. Military, Hodges earned his undergraduate degree in Earth Science Education from Western Washington University. He has taught biology, physical science, earth science, and geology as well as geography and economics. Hodges is currently pursuing his Master of Science in Science Education (MSSE) degree from Montana State University and is on track to graduate in summer of 2010. Hodges interests involve the development of effective methods of teaching science vocabulary to students with limited English comprehension.

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

Inspiring Future Electrical Engineers through Science Teachers


An engineering course was developed for the Masters of Science in Science Education program that introduces science teachers to the concepts necessary to understand the principles governing the operation of silicon solar cells. The summer course stresses that engineering is applied science and uses multi-disciplinary understanding of the physical sciences to understand, develop, and fabricate solar cells. The teachers went into the clean room and completed the processing steps to produce functional solar cells, then they tested and characterized them. The teachers left with a souvenir wafer and course material that aided them in the introduction of subject matter into their curricula. Program assessment was conducted and course outcomes measured through teacher surveys.


The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) department at Montana State University (MSU) has created two new laboratory intensive courses in which undergraduate (EE407) and graduate students (EE505) are given the opportunity to go into a clean room and process a silicon wafer to produce functional electrical or micromechanical devices. The equipment to offer these courses was purchased with funds from a National Science Foundation Grant under the Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program. The purchased equipment was installed in a clean room that is now part of the Montana Microfabrication Facility. These courses are well received by engineering students; students leave with a greater appreciation and understanding of the processes used to create the electronics that are essential to our everyday life. Several of these students were interested in the idea of fabricating solar cells using the same equipment and technology. This interest generated the idea that a course developed for science teachers could be offered to harvest this enthusiasm. The thought was that an appreciation for solar cells could be expanded to middle and high school science teachers by offering them the same opportunity to learn about the operation and fabrication of solar cells. In turn, these science teachers would further communicate this excitement and knowledge to their students, which creates an invaluable opportunity to positively impact the development of and interest in science in today’s youth. Thus, a new engineering course was developed and added to the curriculum for the Master of Science in Science Education degree program at Montana State University.

Masters of Science in Science Education

The Master of Science in Science Education (MSSE) degree program was designed for science educators interested in pursuing graduate study while remaining employed. The majority of program students are practicing classroom teachers. Currently, there are about 350 science educators in the program.


Kaiser, T., & Taylor, P., & Plumb, C., & Tenenbaum, H., & Hodges, S. (2010, June), Inspiring Future Electrical Engineers Through Science Teachers Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15941

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