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Preparing Middle and High School Students for Conducting Postsecondary Academic Research

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-college Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1059.1 - 25.1059.15



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Paper Authors


Adrian Lee Central Illinois Technology and Education Research Institute

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Adrian Lee received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2009, specializing in probability and risk analysis of aviation security systems. Lee served as a post-doctoral research engineer at Vishwamitra Research Institute, Center for Uncertain Systems: Tools for Optimization and Management, and is currently President of Central Illinois Technology and Education Research Institute. Lee is a member of the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). His research interests include nonlinear and adaptive control, probability and statistics, and stochastic optimization in the areas of robotics, energy systems, and national security.

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Preparing Middle and High School Students for Conducting Postsecondary Academic Research The last several years have shown a remarkable increase in focus towards teaching science,technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) principles both within and outside theclassroom environment. This effort, recently endorsed by President Obama’s “Educate toInnovate” and “Change the Equation” campaigns, has and continues to be explored throughvarious avenues, including research in academia, museum programming, and competitive events.As a work in progress, this research effort aims to help prepare students for the rigors ofconducting research at the collegiate level by pursuing the concept of teaching and applying theresearch process through the introduction of an informal program. This concept is initially beingexplored within the Springfield, Illinois public school district through the organization of abiannual workshop focusing on teaching a systematic and ethical approach to performingresearch, and by establishing an online journal intended for the 7-12 grade audience. The goalsof this project are to increase middle and high school students’ understanding of scientists’ andengineers’ responsibilities, and to increase their awareness of the role of STEM fields in creatinga safer, healthier, and more social society. This combination of learning and applying helpsstudents realize the significance of today’s challenges, outlines the use of a systematic approachto problem solving, and creates a pathway for achieving their academic endeavors. The central component of this program is the establishment of an online, open-access journaldesigned to increase middle and high school students’ awareness of modern engineering andscience practices used in academia and industry. The journal aims to combine short articlescontributed by middle and high school students on STEM related issues, by university studentsand faculty outlining current research activities, and by professionals detailing standard industrialpractices. The goal of this journal is to actively engage students in problems of national concernwhile preparing them for advanced careers in science or engineering fields. Furthermore, the aimis to tie these articles to specific concepts presented in standard classroom curricula, so as toform connections between formal learning and real-world scenarios. The goal is to publish“intellectually entertaining” articles that inspire students to pursue STEM related careers, whilealso providing an overview of opportunities in post-secondary academia and industry. The undergoing research effort aims to invoke the experiential learning process by utilizingevidence and inquiry-based methodologies, and by encouraging students to incorporate systemsthinking and service learning principles within their research projects. Students are encouragedto collaborate with fellow students and mentors to strengthen their leadership skills, while alsobuilding their self-efficacy through early exposure to academic research. The success of thisresearch effort will be based on the evaluation of students’ and teachers’ perception of thepresentation, content, and quality of the STEM journal, through the quantitative analysissurrounding details of the website usage, and by capturing the impact that student-initiatedresearch projects has on inspiring future scientists and engineers. Group discussions and onlinesurveys will provide continual assessment of the STEM journal in meeting its goals andobjectives through multiple choice questions (for conducting statistical analysis) and openresponse questions (for basing continual improvement). The criteria for program successconstitutes articles published from a diversity of STEM disciplines and author backgrounds, andthe effective use of these articles as supplementary instructional material within the classroom.

Lee, A. (2012, June), Preparing Middle and High School Students for Conducting Postsecondary Academic Research Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21816

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