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K-12 Pedagogical Tunable Modules

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 Engineering Resources: Best Practices in Curriculum Design, Part 2 of 2

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.835.1 - 24.835.12



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Paper Authors


Andres Cornel Chavez California State University Northridge

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Andres C. Chavez was born November 24, 1989 in Panorama City, CA. As an undergraduate he attended California State University Northridge (CSUN) where he double majored in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in May 2012. Currently, Andres is pursuing a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering at CSUN where his research focus is on smart materials and engineering education. A design stemming from his educational research has been field tested and should be implemented in local school curricula in the near future. Andres plans to continue his education by pursuing doctoral studies in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in Solid Mechanics and conducting research in smart material systems.

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Stephanie Marie Jaco California State University Northridge

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Alejandro Roldan California State University Northridge

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Matthew Ferrer CSUN

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Joyceanne Sim


George Youssef California State University, Northridge Orcid 16x16

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Dr. George Youssef is an Assistant Professor at California State University, Northridge. His research interest is in the area of experimental mechanics and biomechanics. He recently was recognized by Engineers Council as Distinguished Engineering Educator for 2014. Dr. Youssef has many publications on the mechanics of polyurea. He earned his Ph.D. from University of California, Los Angeles, in 2010.

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K-12 Pedagogical Tunable ModulesAbstractK-12 students are rarely engaged in out of the classroom scientific activities. These activitieshowever, tend to emphasize the learning of the fundamental science, i.e. mathematics andphysics, rather than practical and core engineering skills such as design, system integration andtroubleshooting. This is also apparent in current K-12 curricula which lack hands-on engineeringconcepts. The cumulative effect of these approaches to education over a student’s pre-collegeacademic lifetime results in: 1) a shortage in career-ready high school graduates; and 2) a limitednumber of college bound students pursuing STEM education and careers. Moreover, thosegraduates who seek STEM education may have strong analytical skills, but lack the criticalthinking, hands-on and practical skills needed for scientific application, i.e. engineering orexperimentation. This serious problem is further elevated by the sporadic availability of financialsupport to develop and disseminate engineering-based outreach activities. This combined effectseverely hinders the quality and number of domestic scientists and engineers produced by theU.S., thus inhibiting the country’s competitiveness in the global economy’s technology sector. Inorder to address this issue, the concept and a functional prototype of a tunable educationalmodule has been developed. The uniqueness of this approach follows from the module’scapability of modifying a single engineering activity to meet time and student skill-levelrestraints as well as the mentors’ or teachers’ time and effort constraints; i.e. tunability.A module was developed in order to implement and test the concept of tunability. In particular,the module focuses on an electric bell which was chosen due to its simplicity and its broad andfundamental underlying physics and engineering skills. It can be taught on several levels; e.g.basic principles such as polarity (elementary school students) up to using the Biot-Savart law(high school or community college students). The module provides a lesson plan for instructorsor mentors, clearly defined objectives and outcomes, and methods for evaluating its effectiveness(e.g. surveys and worksheets). It consists of a “core” set of topics (e.g. electromagnets, polarityand magnetic fields) and a set of “blocks” (e.g. EM assembly and Ampere’s law) which can beadded to the core to tune the intricacy. These blocks increase the level of detail, and thusdifficulty, of each lesson by incorporating deeper levels of physics, mathematics, andassembly/experimentation (e.g. deriving the flux of a solenoid or taking voltage measurements ofthe battery for field calculations). A functional prototype and complete lesson plan will bepresented as well as statistical analyses of feedback from high school students based on multipleoutreach activities conducted by the research team.

Chavez, A. C., & Jaco, S. M., & Roldan, A., & Ferrer, M., & Sim, J., & Youssef, G. (2014, June), K-12 Pedagogical Tunable Modules Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20726

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