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Stimulating Pre College Interest In Science, Engineering And Mathematics Through Space Oriented Activities

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1137.1 - 10.1137.13



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Paper Authors

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Sally Blake

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Eric MacDonald

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Scott Starks

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Stimulating Pre-College Interest in Science, Engineering and Mathematics through Space-Oriented Activities

Scott Starks, Sally Blake and Eric MacDonald University of Texas at El Paso


The City of El Paso is a rapidly growing community located on the US-Mexico border that has a largely Hispanic population. The region can be categorized as under-educated and socio- economically disadvantaged. For a number of reasons, most students graduating from El Paso area high schools are under-prepared in mathematics and science and thus are at a disadvantage in pursuing engineering programs at the post secondary level.

The Texas PreFreshman Engineering Program (TexPREP) seeks to identify high-achieving middle and high school students with interests in science, engineering and mathematics and to enhance their preparation in these fields and thus increase their likelihood of succeeding in college. TexPREP is an academically intense eight-week summer program, which stresses the development of abstract reasoning, problem solving skills, and their applications.

The Pan American Center for Earth and Environmental Studies (PACES) is a NASA University Research Center on the UTEP campus. In addition to its mission to contribute research in support of NASA’s Earth Science Strategic Enterprise, PACES seeks to promote science, engineering and mathematics awareness among K-12 students, especially those with minority and socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

In 2001, collaboration between TexPREP and PACES began with the objective of using activities with space-oriented themes as a means to stimulate student interest in science, engineering and mathematics. Over the past two summers, a variety of activities have been conducted. These include (1) Remote sensing and image interpretation, (2) CricketSat electronic telemetry device activity, (3) Protein Crystal Growth experiment, (4) Rover design competition (5) “Mission to Mars” play, and (6) Field trips to NASA facilities. This paper presents a description of these space-oriented program components and some results from the evaluation of the program.

1. Introduction

Underrepresented minorities now compromise over 25% of the U.S. population. This proportion is projected to continue upward. From more than one-fourth of the total population, underrepresented minorities compromised only 12% of the baccalaureates awarded in engineering in 2000. Additionally, females of all ethnic backgrounds remain underrepresented in the engineering and technological workplace. Over the past several decades, the need to increase minority and female participation in engineering has taken center stage. An increase in minority and female participation in engineering is needed in order to help fill the numerous positions in

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Blake, S., & MacDonald, E., & Starks, S. (2005, June), Stimulating Pre College Interest In Science, Engineering And Mathematics Through Space Oriented Activities Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15134

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