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Middle School Sustainable Outreach? Fun Activities In Math And Engineering: A 2 Year Case Study

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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

Engineering in the Middle Grades

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.872.1 - 15.872.12



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Paper Authors


Althea Smith North Carolina State University

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Althea Smith is a PhD candidate in Biomathematics in the Department of Statistics. She earned her B.S. in Mathematics from Stony Brook University in 2004 and a M.S. in Biomathematics from North Carolina State University in 2007. Althea is a former graduate Fellow of the RAMP-UP program from the years 2006 to 2009. She is looking forward to obtaining her PhD in August 2010.

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Elizabeth Parry North Carolina State University

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Elizabeth Parry received her B.S. in Engineering Management-Mechanical Engineering from the
University of Missouri-Rolla. After working for IBM for 10 years, Mrs. Parry left to raise her
children and start a science education business. Since 1999, she has directed two major grant
programs for the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University. Currently, she is the
Project Director for the RAMP-UP program.

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Laura Bottomley North Carolina State University

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Dr. Laura Bottomley is the Director of the Engineering Place in the College of Engineering. She has been a Principal Investigator of the RAMP-UP program for the past ten years.

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Lynn Albers North Carolina State University

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Lynn Albers is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department. She has been a Graduate Fellow in the RAMP-UP program since the fall of 2005. She received her
B.S. in Mathematics with a minor in Music from MIT and her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering
with a minor in Nuclear Engineering from Manhattan College.

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


It has been well documented that out-of-time STEM programs positively impacts the students and facilitators involved. However, we have yet to understand the sustained impact of middle school afterschool programs on its stakeholders. RAMP-UP (Recognizing Accelerated Math Potential in Underrepresented People), a National Science Foundation funded GK-12 outreach program at North Carolina State University (NCSU) has established the Fun Activities in Math and Engineering (FAME) at a local inner-city middle school. The facilitators of FAME were undergraduate and graduate Fellows and middle school math teachers. The objectives of this program were to re- enforce basic math concepts learned in the classroom and to expose the students to several fields of engineering while involving in hands-on engineering activities. For example, the activities incorporated understanding the key principles of engineering design, mathematical estimation and extrapolation, and how to appropriately collect data - skills which are clearly cross-disciplinary.

The FAME program was conducted weekly on a semester basis for 2 years (Fall 2007 through Spring 2009). Quantitative data in the form of surveys were collected at the end of each semester for the students involved. In addition, qualitative assessment data from the facilitators has been collected. In this paper we use the FAME program as a case study to evaluate the sustained impact of middle school after-school programs. This study reveals the positive relationship between the students and facilitators, and improved student and facilitator attitudes towards STEM fields throughout the 2-year period.


Participation in afterschool programs has been shown to be associated with educational success including greater engagement in learning and higher academic performance.4 Programs based in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have often shaped and developed future scientists. For students to succeed in STEM fields Jolly, Campbell and Perlman3 suggest the necessary trilogy: engagement, capacity and continuity. Meaning students are engaged by having interests and motivation for the involvement in the sciences, student have the capacity or required skills needed to advance in these disciplines and students have the academic support and material resources (continuity) needed for these interests. After-school programs can provide a vehicle for realization of this trilogy outside of the classroom.

STEM based university and industry outreach programs have proven to greatly impact the community they serve. However, sometimes university or industry supported STEM outreach programs are comprised of a one day activity/demonstration exposing the youths to STEM fields. Though great in their attempts, these one day programs fail to develop mentor relationships between students and facilitators. It is this mentorship that has proven to profoundly impact the views of STEM fields of the students participating in these programs.1 We define sustainable STEM outreach as a partnership that maintains, fosters and promotes long-lasting interests in STEM fields.

Smith, A., & Parry, E., & Bottomley, L., & Albers, L. (2010, June), Middle School Sustainable Outreach? Fun Activities In Math And Engineering: A 2 Year Case Study Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16823

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