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Iowa State University SYMBI GK-12 Program: A Case Study of the Resident Engineer's Effects on Eighth Graders' Attitudes Toward Science and Engineering

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Outreach Activities and Introductory Materials Engineering

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Page Count


Page Numbers

25.863.1 - 25.863.9



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Paper Authors

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Peter R. Hondred Iowa State University


Karri M. Haen Iowa State University

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Karri Haen is the NSF-CBiRC educational programs evaluator at Iowa State University's Research Institute for Studies in Education (RISE). Her current education research interests include determining how philosophy of science issues impact science pedagogy and comparative analysis of science teacher professional development strategies. Haen has been a Knaphus Fellow Lecturer in the ISU Biology program and began working with CBiRC and RISE after completing her Ph.D. in evolutionary genetics in 2010.

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Adah Leshem Iowa State University


Michael R. Kessler Iowa State University Orcid 16x16

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Michael R. Kessler is an Associate Professor of materials science and engineering at Iowa State University and an associate of the Department of Energy Ames Laboratory. He received a B.S. degree from LeTourneau University, Longview, Texas, in 1996, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1998 and 2002, respectively. His research thrusts are focused on the processing and characterization of polymers and polymer matrix composites.

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IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY SYMBI GK12 PROGRAM: A CASE STUDY OF THE RESIDENT ENGINEER’S EFFECTS ON 8TH GRADERS ATTITUDES TOWARD SCIENCE AND ENGINEERINGABSTRACT Symbi, an NSF GK12 program, is a partnership between Iowa State University and the Des Moines publicschool system in an effort to develop innovative and engaging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)activities for middle school students. STEM graduate students are selected to serve as resident scientists or engineersin a middle school science classroom, spending one full day each week throughout the academic school year. TheseGK12 Fellows provide exposure to inquiry-based learning experiences and authentic demonstrations, and bringrelevance to the science curriculum by engaging the students in real world challenges. In addition, the Fellows serveas role models for STEM based occupations and encourage the students to develop the skills sets they will need tobe competitive in the 21st century global economy. Here we present a case study showcasing the activities andinteractions of Symbi GK12 Fellows in the classroom with implications for other partnerships between graduatestudents and middle schools. The Fellows provide relevance to the STEM core curriculum which helps studentsrelate to the classroom activities. Each Fellow’s research background provides a unique venue for further scientificinvolvement. In this case study, the primary research focus of the author, a GK12 Fellow, is on materials science andengineering, a field almost completely absent from middle school curriculum. By providing hands ondemonstrations and reliable scientific expertise, 8th grade students showed a significant increase in not onlyacademic understanding but also in attitudes toward science and engineering related fields. These findings weresupported through surveys, student testimonies, and pre- and post-assessments of the activities relating to materialsscience and engineering.

Hondred, P. R., & Haen, K. M., & Leshem, A., & Kessler, M. R. (2012, June), Iowa State University SYMBI GK-12 Program: A Case Study of the Resident Engineer's Effects on Eighth Graders' Attitudes Toward Science and Engineering Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21620

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