June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Programmatic Issues in Physics or Engineering Physics Programs
Engineering Physics & Physics
13.980.1 - 13.980.13
Physics Fundamentals, Engineering Design, and Research: An Integrated Approach to the Development of a Three-Week Shortcourse
Many outreach programs offered by universities provide pre-college students an opportunity to explore careers in science and engineering. For high-achieving students who already have an interest in these areas, these types of programs can introduce students to advanced concepts, develop their understanding of scientific methodologies, and expose them to science and engineering research. One such program, the Young Engineering and Science Scholars (YESS) Program, is a three-week summer residential program created to bring exceptional high school juniors and seniors from underrepresented minority groups to study at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The program is intended for motivated students who wish to broaden their knowledge of science and engineering beyond that offered by their high schools. During the three-week program, students take science courses and are exposed to laboratory tours, faculty lectures, and college admissions workshops.
The creation and implementation of an integrated curriculum for a physics and introductory engineering YESS course is the focus of this paper. The 2007 physics and engineering curriculum was designed with four main objectives in mind: to ensure that students had a conceptual understanding of mechanics fundamentals, to challenge students to use their knowledge of mechanics in an engineering design competition, to expose students to advanced topics in physics, and finally to provide students with an opportunity to conduct guided research. Several assessment methods were used to determine if this type of fast-paced and integrated curriculum would be successful in achieving the aforementioned objectives. These include a pre- and post-examination, student performance evaluations, and student surveys and feedback.
This paper provides a description of the program, a discussion on the teaching philosophy, a breakdown of the physics course structure, and a presentation of results obtained from the assessment. From these results, it is concluded that an integrated approach to increasing student understanding of physics fundamentals, design, and research can be accomplished in a shortcourse setting. It is therefore expected that the 2007 YESS physics curriculum presented here will serve as the educational model for the YESS Program in subsequent years.
2. Program Description
The YESS Program at Caltech is a three-week summer residential program for high-achieving rising high school juniors and seniors who are underrepresented in science and engineering fields. The program is free of charge to admitted students. YESS aims to strengthen students’ interests in science and engineering; develop students’ understanding of scientific methodologies; provide early exposure to science and engineering research; and recruit incoming students to Caltech.
Jackson, W., & Franck, J., & Maloney, J., & Ochoa-Ricoux, J. P., & Rimoli, J., & Rivas, L. (2008, June), Physics Fundamentals, Engineering Design, And Research: An Integrated Approach To The Development Of A Three Week Shortcourse Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4299
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