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Summer Engineering Education Program: Formal-Informal Model

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2021 Fall ASEE Middle Atlantic Section Meeting


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Publication Date

November 12, 2021

Start Date

November 12, 2021

End Date

November 13, 2021

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Suzanne Keilson Loyola University Maryland

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Suzanne Keilson is a faculty member at Loyola University Maryland. Her background and degrees are in Applied Physics and her research interests include signal processing, biomedical and materials engineering, design and STEM education. She has served in administrative positions and has taught for the past twenty years, including in special cross-disciplinary first year programs. She is a frequent presenter at a variety of conferences and venues, is an active member of ASEE, the Mid-Atlantic section as well as ASME and IEEE.

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The STEM segment of Beat The Streets: Baltimore was conducted for six weeks during the Summer of 2021. The program was held at Cherry Hill Elementary/Middle School for one hour (10 – 11 A.M.) Monday – Thursday. This allowed for 24 contact hours in person between the students and instructor. Students used their personal or school provided laptops to access materials in class. The coding environments were intentionally online and web based to minimize complexity and the need to download software. The six weeks were divided into two three-week segments. The first three-week segment introduced students to programming in both Python and Scratch formats. Python coding was introduced in the context of Computer Science Unplugged Programming challenges ( This provided students with an introduction to binary numbers and command line text-based programming challenges that introduced them to fundamental concepts of computer science such as loops, conditionals, and data types. The students were then presented with a programming challenge in the Scratch platform. ( They created their own accounts on this web-based platform and used ‘drag and drop’ and object (sprite) centered programming to create their own versions of the classic Pong game. At the end of the first three weeks students presented their programs to the group. In the second three weeks students were provided with Arduino Uno development kits ( They were introduced to the hardware of the Arduino microcontroller which included breadboarding with switches, resisters, potentiometers, LEDs, phototransisters, and an LCD screen. They completed or attempted eight different projects that were detailed in a projects book that accompanied the kits. This reinforced their exposure to software environments and fundamentals of programming as well as introducing them to the frustrations, care and patience required for breadboarding circuits. On the last day of the program, they again presented what they had accomplished and were asked to provide a ‘lesson learned’. Most of the lessons learned in both the first and second segments of this summer program focused on the need for care, attention to detail and the challenges of troubleshooting a project.

Keilson, S. (2021, November), Summer Engineering Education Program: Formal-Informal Model Paper presented at 2021 Fall ASEE Middle Atlantic Section Meeting, Virtually Hosted by the section.

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