June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.798.1 - 13.798.12
Introducing Engineering through Candy
Food engineering is a multidisciplinary field that deals with different aspects of food production and processing. Students’ familiarity with candy provides an excellent way to introduce middle school students to the sweeter aspects of engineering. A module that covered several mathematics concepts was developed around candy engineering.
The National Science Foundation Grades K-12 Fellowship offered at Drexel University College of Engineering paired a graduate student with a middle school teacher from the School District of Philadelphia. The team developed engineering-based several modules for inclusion in the middle school curriculum. The schools where the modules are being implemented consist of underrepresented students. In this atmosphere a single module was developed and implemented on mass, volume and density of two different candies. Upon the completion of the lesson activities the students were able to differentiate between mass and volume as well as calculate density.
The design of the module ensured that math skills that the students were having difficulty mastering were covered. The result of ensuring adequate coverage of the math skills in the module resulted in improvements measured on regionally administered benchmark exams. Analysis of student performance showed 19/26 students answered 75% or greater of the question on regional math benchmarks correctly. The improvement of student scores on the benchmark exams can be traced back to the overlap of the module with the math skills covered and their appearance on the benchmark exams.
Delicious and inviting, food elicits a positive reaction from students young and old. The Food Network and the A&E specials are testament to the popularity that food has derived. The familiarity that we have with food can be harnessed to exemplify engineering. M&Ms has been used to teach math for many years and many great examples are given online about the distribution of colors in a bag of M&Ms. Instead of using the candy to learn basic statistics, Skittles and M&Ms can be used to expand science and math concepts using engineering as a vehicle for fifth grade students. In order to provide insight into food engineering, a module was developed at Martha Washington Elementary in Philadelphia, PA.
Martha Washington Elementary was one of the sites selected to host a Drexel University GK-12 Fellow. In collaboration with the Fifth and Six grade teachers, a module was designed, after observing the students and their performance on math benchmarks. Two concepts, in particular needed help and the module was built to ensure those math standards were covered in depth. After completion of the module, student’s performance on benchmark exams and attitudes in science were investigated. The increase in performance on benchmark exams and increase in the positive attitudes toward engineering.
Birnkrant, M., & Cathell, M., & Blount, P., & Robinson, J., & Fontecchio, A., & Fromm, E. (2008, June), Introducing Engineering Through Candy Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/4169
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