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Studio Stem: Networked Engineering Projects In Energy For Middle School Girls And Boys

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Engineering in the Middle Grades

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1138.1 - 15.1138.18



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Paper Authors

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Christine Schnittka University of Kentucky

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Michael Evans Virginia Tech

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Brett Jones Virginia Tech

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Carol Brandt Virginia Tech

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

Studio STEM: Networked Engineering Projects in Energy for Middle School Girls and Boys


The US workforce of the 21st century reflects an increasing need to train and hire engineers, scientists, and technologists.1,2 Whereas, the current trend is to seek expertise from foreign nationals, the new agenda is to place a concerted effort on the training and development of US citizens in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Consequently, the researchers addressed this effort by exposing young people to STEM careers while focusing on design issues and concepts related to energy conservation and the environment.

In this paper, we describe the results of the initial implementation of Studio STEM in an informal setting for underserved youth: an after-school Boys and Girls Club in a rural Appalachian community. The curricular package used for this pilot study, called Save the Penguins, has been used in the past in formal, in-school settings with advantaged youth.3,4 In this iteration the researchers selected a different population and added an information communication technology (ICT) component to encourage technical literacy and collaboration. Additionally, volunteer mentor/facilitators were trained to coach and scaffold student understanding, providing a supportive, motivating presence in the studio. The theoretical framework of social constructivism was the driving force for curriculum design, and was present in data collection and data analysis. Students were observed and videotaped for the duration of the intervention (which took place in the fall of 2009), and were administered post assessments on attitudes in the form of surveys and interviews.


The purpose of this study was to better understand how middle school students' attitudes and perceptions about engineering, science, and computer technology changed as they learned engineering design concepts in an after-school studio setting with mentor/facilitators and a collaborative ICT-embedded environment. The driving research questions guiding the investigation were:

1. How are students learning engineering design with an information communication technology (ICT) component in an afterschool setting? 2. rd engineering, science, and computer technologies impacted by the intervention? 3. How are the actions of the teachers and other facilitators related to the motivation students have to learn engineering and participate in the design activities?

These research questions were well suited to the theoretical framework of social constructivism because they addressed sense-making through social group activities and teacher scaffolding.5,6,7,8 They also addressed the expectancy-value model of motivation9,10,11 in that the

Schnittka, C., & Evans, M., & Jones, B., & Brandt, C. (2010, June), Studio Stem: Networked Engineering Projects In Energy For Middle School Girls And Boys Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15933

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