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Teaching STEM to K-12 Students: Undergraduate Students Engaged in Engineering Pedagogical Development in a COVID-Persistent Learning Environment

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Community-Engaged Engineering Education Challenges and Opportunities in Light of COVID-19 Paper Presentations 1

Tagged Divisions

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society, Community Engagement Division, and Equity, Culture & Social Justice in Education

Page Count

20

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37823

Download Count

80

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Paper Authors

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Reed Marshall

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Daylen James McGhee United States Military Academy

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Lixrine Epie Ngeme United States Military Academy

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I am a Civil Engineering student at the United States Military Academy dedicated to building interest in STEM majors for pre collage students. I want to raise a certain level of awareness and excitement in high school student for STEM classes and make them see the importance the knowledge acquired from these classes have in the active progress of the world we live in.

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Joseph Carl Price

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Aaron T. Hill Jr. United States Military Academy

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Colonel Aaron Hill is an Assistant Professor and Design Group Director in the Department of Civil & Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from West Point, a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management from Missouri S&T, a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech, and a PhD in Civil Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. Aaron has served in the military for 23 years as an Engineer Officer with assignments around the world to include Afghanistan, Egypt, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He is a licensed professional engineer in Virginia and a Project Management Professional. Aaron’s primary areas of research are engineering education, the behavior of steel structures, and blast. Aaron mentors students by serving as an advisor for capstone projects and through service as an Officer Representative for Women’s Volleyball and Men’s Basketball. His passion for teaching and developing tomorrow’s leaders resulted in his selection in 2009 for the American Society of Civil Engineers New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award and the 2013 Outstanding Young Alumni Award for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech.

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Brad C. McCoy United States Military Academy

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Brad C. McCoy is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, and currently an Asst. Professor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering and the Director of the Center for Innovation and Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA). He holds a BS degree in civil engineering from USMA (2001), and MS and PhD degrees in civil engineering from North Carolina State University (2011 and 2019). Brad is a licensed Professional Engineer (Missouri). His research interests include sustainable infrastructure development, sustainable construction materials, and engineering education.

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Kevin P. Arnett P.E. United States Military Academy

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LTC Kevin Arnett is a fifth year Assistant Professor at the US Military Academy. He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from USMA in 2001, his M.S. Civil Engineering from U.C. Berkeley in 2011, and his PhD in Structural Engineering from UCSD in 2019. He teaches structural analysis and design of steel structures, and is a licensed Professional Engineer in California and Missouri.

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Abstract

Knowledge of science and engineering plays a major role in solving problems and enhancing people’s lives in our world today. Investing in the future’s STEM professionals is vital to strengthening the growing demand for engineers. Previous studies on the subject of raising interest in STEM majors focused on (a) the number of undergraduate students who decide on a major prior to attending college, (b) common misconceptions regarding the STEM field, and (c) effectiveness of pedagogical techniques to increase curiosity. However, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, pedagogical techniques to introduce K-12 students to the STEM fields must be adjusted. This paper investigates the effectiveness of various methods to engage and interact with K-12 students interested in STEM during the COVID-19 learning environment, and discusses key conclusions from a pilot 90-minute virtual module for K-12 students, showcasing the importance and versatility of STEM in the modern world. Through hands-on activities, interactive games, easy to use software, demonstrations, and videos, student interest and curiosity in the STEM field is increased and K-12 teachers are provided with tools to continue to foster this curiosity throughout the school year. Surveys taken before and after the learning module measure interest in the STEM fields directly related to the module provided. Studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between critical motivational, secondary learning, and post-secondary variables on desire to be a STEM student. Throughout our education system, many misconceptions cast the STEM field as tough and only designed for the smartest of students. Data from a U.S. news article shows that one third of kids lose interest in this field prior to fourth grade, and fifty percent have lost interest by the eighth grade. These misconceptions lead students to become disinterested in a field of study for which they have only had a paltry exposure. Studies have shown that the best ways to spark curiosity in the STEM field is through hands-on activities, field trip tours, interactive games, and real-world applicability. The main reasons that educational institutions have trouble providing these concepts to their students is because of the lack of funding and the varying emphasis on STEM programs. There are numerous sites, sources, and programs that give students the opportunity to be exposed to STEM, which require minimal resources and funding in the eyes of the schools. The study found that capitalizing on the increased use of technology in the current COVID learning environment enables K-12 teachers to increase STEM awareness, interest, and intellectual curiosity of K-12 students in the virtual classroom. Further the study found that connecting K-12 students with professionals across the STEM fields brings the virtual modules to life by connecting the learning to real-world applications and allowing students to “see themselves” in the field. Together, the teachers and professionals leverage the technology to draw a diverse group of young people to STEM fields in the future.

Marshall , R., & McGhee, D. J., & Ngeme, L. E., & Price , J. C., & Hill, A. T., & McCoy, B. C., & Arnett, K. P. (2021, July), Teaching STEM to K-12 Students: Undergraduate Students Engaged in Engineering Pedagogical Development in a COVID-Persistent Learning Environment Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37823

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