July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society, Community Engagement Division, and Equity, Culture & Social Justice in Education
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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