Newark, New Jersey
April 22, 2022
April 22, 2022
April 23, 2022
The paper will be a summary of the implementation and effectiveness of a one-week in-person workshop designed to introduce middle school students to engineering and what engineers do as part of an educational Summer Camp at Brookdale Community College, located in Lincroft, NJ. Other discussion highlights will include: research supporting the importance of introducing engineering to middle school students; the motivation behind the instructors’ decision to conduct the program in a summer camp setting; the significance to the program’s success of having had engineers and continuing education professionals design and teach the program; and plans for an expanded program during the summer of 2022, based on lessons learned.
Regarding the 2021 Summer Camp program, the engineering design process was the vehicle for demonstrating the work in which engineers engage. Problem-solving was a key connector of the subject of science to engineering. Students were given the opportunity to solve problems just as engineers would while learning how engineers use science in their everyday work. The NASA Mars landing in 2021 was used as a theme to increase students’ interest in engineering by engaging student teams in hands-on and fun real-life applications of engineering. This also provided a meaningful context for the middle school students to learn about science concepts, such as gravity, levers, and forces, as well as engineering concepts such as systems, building solid structures, mechanisms, and machines. Students were also introduced to the profession of engineering, the many different fields of engineering, the multi-disciplinary aspects of engineering, and examples of different engineering work places. The introduction of the engineering design process to student teams included the design and construction of spinning tops, gyroscopes, Rattlebacks, and Rube Goldberg devices. Then, the teams of students were involved in engineering activities, using everyday materials, related to the Mars landing. These included the design and construction of: A parachute that can hold weight and descend slowly; A lander that can keep items (such as people) inside the lander after impact; A paper Mars helicopter; A model of a space habitat; A working robot arm; and A Mars rover. An end-of-program survey found that the program did increase students’ interest in engineering and knowledge of engineering careers by providing them with challenging real-life applications of engineering.
Kimmel, H. S., & Spak, G. T., & Rockland, R. H., & Hirsch, L. S. (2022, April), Motivating Middle Schoolers to Be Engineers Paper presented at 2022 Spring ASEE Middle Atlantic Section Conference, Newark, New Jersey. 10.18260/1-2--40060
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