June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.1047.1 - 12.1047.19
Mechanical Engineering for Middle School Students: An Overview of the Mechanical Engineering Portion of MST at MSU
Mathematics, Science, and Technology at Michigan State University (MST at MSU) is a two week long introduction to advanced science and technology for academically-gifted middle school students. Though the program consists of a number of academic courses, a cornerstone of this program, and the focus of the present work, is a short course in mechanical engineering, which is presently in its ninth year of existence. This course is intended to expose the students to the fundamentals of mechanical engineering, as well as a variety of practical engineering problems related to the ﬁeld. Though portions of this program were previously presented to the ASEE in 2000, the program has undergone a signiﬁcant evolution since the initial report (completed after the ﬁrst year of the course). As such, the present work contains a comprehensive overview of the current program’s curriculum, organization, and, where instructional, evolution. As a whole, the work is intended to serve as a template for future mechanical engineering pre-college programs.
Mathematics, Science, and Technology at Michigan State University (MST at MSU) is a two week long residential program with the stated purpose of introducing high-achieving middle school stu- dents with technical interests to a variety of scientiﬁc and technical disciplines (ranging from as- tronomy to zoology) and university life in general. Though the program has evolved signiﬁcantly since its creation, a lasting cornerstone of the program’s curriculum has been a short course in mechanical engineering. This course, which is taught by a representative of the mechanical engi- neering department (a faculty member or doctoral candidate) in conjunction with a local secondary school educator, is intended to introduce the fundamentals of mechanical engineering in an infor- mative, yet approachable, manner.
Structurally, the mechanical engineering course is divided into ten two-hour academic units, each of which includes a brief technical lecture (approximately twenty minutes in length), a variety of hands-on demonstrations, and a competitive group project of a design-build-test nature. The course’s curriculum presently consists of three distinct sections: (i) mechanical system sciences, (ii) thermal-ﬂuid sciences, and (iii) design and manufacturing. Modules in the mechanical system section place particular emphasis on the basics of mechanics, namely statics, dynamics, and me- chanical vibration, as well as on simple electromechanical systems (e.g. motors and speakers) and feedback control. The thermal-ﬂuid modules stress the basic principles of work/energy, heat trans- fer, and aerodynamics, and the design modules include discussions of structural design and modern manufacturing. While this curriculum may be akin to that found in many pre-college engineer- ing programs, distinguishing traits include the program’s emphasis on hands-on, design-build-test projects and the emphasis the program puts on modern and past global engineering accomplish- ments (and occasionally instructive failures), as well as on ‘cutting-edge’ technologies likely to see broad implementation at approximately the same time the students will enter the technical work
Rhoads, J., & Somerton, C., & Olson, B., & Ballinger, T. (2007, June), Mechanical Engineering For Middle School Students: An Overview Of The Mechanical Engineering Portion Of Mst At Msu Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/1541
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