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STEM High School: Do Multiple Years of High School Engineering Impact Student Choices and Teacher Instruction?

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 Engineering Resources: Best Practices in Curriculum Design, Part 1 of 2

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1102.1 - 24.1102.17



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Paper Authors


Malinda S. Zarske University of Colorado, Boulder

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Dr. Malinda Zarske is faculty in the General Engineering Plus department at the University of Colorado Boulder. A former high school and middle school science and math teacher, she has advanced degrees in teaching secondary science from the Johns Hopkins University and in civil engineering from CU-Boulder. Dr. Zarske has been involved in K-12 engineering education for over 14 years, and currently teaches product design courses through General Engineering Plus, as well as STEM education courses for pre-service teachers through the University’s CU Teach Engineering program. Additionally, she manages and mentors graduate and undergraduate engineering fellows who teach in local K-12 classrooms through the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program’s NSF-funded TEAMS initiative, is faculty advisor for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and on the development team for the TeachEngineering digital library. Dr. Zarske’s primary research interests are on the impacts of project-based service-learning on student identity, recruitment, and retention in K-12 and undergraduate engineering.

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Madison J. Gallipo University of Colorado Boulder

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Madison Gallipo is an undergraduate Chemical Engineering major at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is involved with research and volunteer work relating to K-12 engineering education. Her research deals with engineering educational benefits at the high school level, while her volunteer work involves hands-on teaching of basic STEM techniques and principles at the elementary school level. She is expected to graduate in May of 2016.

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Janet L. Yowell University of Colorado, Boulder

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Janet serves as the Associate Director of K-12 Engineering Education for the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. Involved since 2000, she collaborates on the College’s ambitious K-12 engineering initiatives, including their capacity-building and school partnership programs. She coordinates the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program’s NSF-funded TEAMS Program (Tomorrow’s Engineers… creAte. iMagine. Succeed.) which engages more than 2,200 K-12 students in engineering throughout the academic year and summer months. She is also a contributing curriculum writer and editor for the TeachEngineering digital library, also an NSF-funded project.

Janet holds a master’s degree in Information and Learning Technology from the University of Colorado Denver and a bachelor’s in Communication from the University of Colorado Boulder.

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Derek T. Reamon University of Colorado, Boulder

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STEM High School: Does four years of high school engineering impact student choices and teacher behavior?K-12 engineering programs are rapidly increasing around the nation, particularly at the highschool level. Integrating opportunities for high school students to repeatedly practice engineeringskills has been suggested to increase students’ interest in pursuing a career in engineering.However, little research exists to show the real impacts on the students’ attitudes towardsengineering and where they end up after high school. Also, as the number of programsincreases, so does the need for qualified teachers to staff those courses (2008 reference here).The majority of K-12 teachers do not have a background in engineering; and more times thannot, they do not know what an engineer does or have knowledge of the different disciplines ofengineering, thusly making it difficult to adequately encourage their students to pursueengineering as a career (2001 reference here). One challenge for schools wanting to betterimplement the “E” in STEM is the training of teachers required to effectively teach engineeringin the classroom.The XX high school STEM Academy program was implemented at a large, Midwesternsuburban high school in the U.S. to provide a program for students to gain up to four years ofengineering-related experience as part of their daily school curriculum. The courses in thisprogram are taught by teachers who have worked with engineering faculty at their localUniversity to both develop hands-on, design-based engineering classes and to learn how tosuccessfully teach engineering concepts and principles to students (2012 reference here). In thispaper, 37 students who completed engineering courses in the STEM Academy program over fouryears of high school are examined. Data is analyzed from multiple sources, including semestersurveys that provide an in-depth look at students’ changing interests and attitudes towardsengineering over four years in the Academy, retention rates of students in the program, andwhere these students are studying one year post-graduation. In addition, the three STEMAcademy teachers who taught this group of students over four years provide valuable input tothis paper. Their thoughts on their students’ growth and progress, as well as their opinions of theSTEM Academy’s progression and effectiveness, are evaluated. Lastly, this paper looks at theteachers’ perception of their own preparedness in teaching and guiding students in engineering-related courses.Specifically, this paper addresses the following question, “Does four years of engineeringeducation at the high school level, when taught by qualified teachers, significantly increasestudents’ interests and attitudes towards engineering, as well as increase the amount of studentswho choose to pursue an engineering-related path after high school?” This paper seeks to revealhow an integrated four-year engineering program in high school impacts students over multipleyears, as well as gives insight into the effectiveness of this kind of program when taught byteachers of varying backgrounds trained in partnership with their local university.

Zarske, M. S., & Gallipo, M. J., & Yowell, J. L., & Reamon, D. T. (2014, June), STEM High School: Do Multiple Years of High School Engineering Impact Student Choices and Teacher Instruction? Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23035

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