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The Effect of Summer Engineering Camps on Students’ Interest in STEM

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Pre-college Engineering Education Division Technical Session 16

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Jessica Marie Faber Wartburg College

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Jessica is a student at Wartburg College studying Engineering Science with a minor in Creative Writing and Mathematics. She is active with soccer at Wartburg and works for the innovation Studio in the Engineering department.

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Luke G. Grzech Wartburg College

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Luke is a Student in the Engineering Science Department at Wartburg College. He is getting his major in Engineering Science and Minors in Mathematics and Leadership. Research interests include recruitment into STEM and diversity in STEM.

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Murad Musa Mahmoud Wartburg College Orcid 16x16

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Murad is an Assistant Professor at the Engineering Science Department at Wartburg College. He has a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Utah State University. Research interests include recruitment into STEM, diversity in STEM as well pedagogy and instruction.

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Kurt Henry Becker Utah State University

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Kurt Becker is the current director for the Center for Engineering Education Research (CEER) which examines innovative and effective engineering education practices as well as classroom technologies that advance learning and teaching in engineering. He is also working on National Science Foundation (NSF) funded projects exploring engineering design thinking. His areas of research include engineering design thinking, adult learning cognition, engineering education professional development and technical training. He has extensive international experience working on technical training and engineering educaton projects funded by the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and U.S. Department of Labor, USAID. Countries where he has worked include Armenia, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, China, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, and Thailand. In addition, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses for the Department of Engineering Education at Utah State University.

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The interest levels of students before and after they attend a summer Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) camp will be analyzed in this paper. During July 2017, 2018, and 2019 groups of students attended a weeklong STEM summer camp designed to increase their interest in STEM. These camps were funded by a seven-year grant from the Department of Education as a part of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEARUP) program. The goal of the engineering camps and the overall GEARUP grant is to help inspire middle and high school students to pursue a career in STEM, and to academically prepare them to succeed in college.

The students that attended the engineering camp each summer participated in a series of engineering research activities. During these activities, students worked with engineering faculty and graduate students throughout the camp. While the themes and focus of these activities varied from year to year, they were generally hands-on learning experiences that applied concepts typically learned in the classroom to real-life scenarios. Teams of students, led by science teachers, developed hypotheses for the research experiments, tested the hypotheses, and were challenged to think like engineers. The students’ research findings and experiences were presented in the form of research posters and slide presentations at the end of the camp. Before, and immediately following the summer camps, students completed surveys that asked various questions covering a variety of topics including their general interest in STEM, thoughts about a possible future in a STEM career, factors influencing their choice of career, the perceptions of their friends and family towards STEM, among others. Data from those surveys is analyzed in order to compare the interest levels before and after the camp. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected simultaneously in a concurrent mixed methods research design, and both streams of data are analyzed together to offer a mixed analysis perspective into the results, and to offer a deeper insight to the student’s perspectives and thoughts. The analysis includes comparing interest levels before and after the camps for the entire group of students, for the subgroups that started with high interest, versus low interest in STEM. Additionally, an examination of the differences in interest levels between male and female students is performed.

Faber, J. M., & Grzech, L. G., & Mahmoud, M. M., & Becker, K. H. (2020, June), The Effect of Summer Engineering Camps on Students’ Interest in STEM Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35309

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