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STEM Summer Institute Increases Student and Parent Understanding of Engineering

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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 and Pre-College Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1103.1 - 24.1103.9



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Paper Authors


Stacy S. Klein-Gardner Harpeth Hall School and Vanderbilt University

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Dr. Stacy Klein-Gardner began as the Director of the Center for STEM Education in April 2011 just as the Center began. An engineer by training and in her ways of thinking, she received a BSE in biomedical and electrical engineering from Duke University in 1991. She then earned her M.S. from Drexel University in 1993 and her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Vanderbilt University in 1996. Dr. Klein-Gardner's career focuses on K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, particularly as it relates to increasing interest in and participation by females. Dr. Klein-Gardner serves as the Director of the Center for STEM Education for Girls at the Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, TN. Here she leads professional development opportunities in STEM for K-12 teachers and works to Identify and disseminate best practices from successful K12, university and corporate STEM programs for females. This Center also leads a program for rising high school girls that integrates community service and engineering design in a global context. She continues to serve as an Adjoint Professor of the Practice of Biomedical Engineering, Teaching & Learning, and Radiological Sciences at Vanderbilt University. She served as the Associate Dean for Outreach in the Vanderbilt School of Engineering from 2007-2010. Dr. Klein-Gardner currently serves as the chair of the American Society for Engineering Education’s K12 division.

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XXX Institute Increases Student and Parent Understanding of Engineering  The XXX Institute (SSI) is a non-residential, ten-day summer camp for rising high school girlsheld by the XXX. In 2013, twenty-eight girls participated in the program. Two-thirds of thegirls were from local public comprehensive high schools, while the other third attendedindependent schools in the area. The curriculum was based in both service learning andengineering design within a global context. The Lwala Community Alliance of Kenya "hired"the participants to work on two projects. The rising 9th and 10th graders designed a fish pond toenable the Lwala residents raise fish to use as a commodity. The rising 11th and 12th gradersdesigned an oven for the women of Lwala to bake mandazi in large quantities to use as acommodity for trade. Participants used the engineering design process to manage the designsalong with appropriate scientific inquiry, statistical analyses, CAD drawings, and hands-onprototype building to accomplish this task. Each group also prepared an oral presentation and avideo of their fish pond or oven in action. These videos ran while the girls stood in front of theposters, giving their oral presentations, to judges, parents, and teachers from their home schoolson the final engineering design competition day. We also did things to make this feel a bit morelike a traditional camp - and not just academics – such as making ice cream, making shrink-dinks, going to the playground, etc. We also included topics like college planning and buildingup the girls’ social capital. Parents were specifically engaged at two points during the program:a homework assignment designed to have parents and daughters brainstorm about the Lwaladesign challenges and an invitation to parents to participate in the engineering design projectpresentations on the last day.The Parents’ Engineering Awareness Survey (PEAS) (Yun, et. al, 2010) was administered to allconsented parents (one per participant) prior to and following the SSI. The PEAS surveyincludes knowledge, attitude, and behavior aspects; only the knowledge and attitude aspects werehoped to be impacted by this program due to the short intervention time betweenimplementations of this survey. The Draw an Engineer Test (DAET) (Knight and Cunningham,2004) was administered to all consented student participants prior to and on the last day of theSSI. The PEAS survey indicated a significant increase in parental knowledge of engineering.The parental attitude aspect increased as well, but did not reach statistical significance. Usingqualitative analysis, the DAET test indicated an increase in the accuracy of studentunderstanding of what engineering is and what engineers do. The STEM Summer Instituteprogram is an effective model for helping both girls and their parents increase their knowledge ofwhat engineering is and should be replicated and emulated in other programs, both academicyear and summer, for girls.   

Klein-Gardner, S. S. (2014, June), STEM Summer Institute Increases Student and Parent Understanding of Engineering Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23036

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