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The Virginia Demonstration Project: A Summative Assessment

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Middle School Engineering Programs, Curriculum, and Evaluation

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1514.1 - 22.1514.18



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Paper Authors


Jacob D. Joseph The College of William and Mary

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Jacob Joseph has over ten years of experience in the engineering industry, and has taught secondary chemistry and physics. Mr. Joseph is the Virginia area coordinator for the STEM Education Alliance. In addition, he is currently the lead evaluator on a Department of Defense grant and is lead on the evaluation team designing the new survey instrument, the STEM Attitudes and Awareness Scale.

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Jessica Taylor College of William and Mary, STEM Education Alliance

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Jessica Taylor is a Program Coordinator for the STEM Education Alliance. She serves as a professional development coordinator, curriculum developer, and outreach liaison to the Virginia Demonstration Project, a program supported by the Department of Defense. She has worked in various formal and informal science education programs since 2001.

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Gail B. Hardinge College of William and Mary, STEM Education Alliance

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Gail Hardinge is a Clinical Associate Professor of Education at the College of William and Mary. She is the Director of the STEM Education Alliance, a project center designed to create connections between the educational, science and engineering communities. She is the project director for the Virginia Demonstration Project, a Department of Defense funded initiative that has received several Virginia science awards. She teaches educational consultation and assessment, and supervises advanced graduate students in field studies.

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Eugene F. Brown Virginia Tech

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Eugene Brown is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. He has
worked with ONR and DoD since 2001 on educational-outreach-related work-force development issues.
He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics and is the author
of many papers and reports describing his research in the areas of computational fluid dynamics, fluid
mechanics, and his work in educational outreach.

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The Virginia Demonstration Project— A Summative Assessment ABSTRACTIn the fall of 2003, representatives from the Office of Naval Research met with the staff of thenSenator John Warner (R-VA) to seek funding for an innovative program devoted to increasingthe interest of middle school students in pursuing careers in science and engineering. From thesediscussions, the Virginia Demonstration Project (VDP) emerged which has grown to reach morethan 3700 7th and 8th graders in its academic year and summer camp programs, to involve morethan 170 science and math teachers in its professional development activities, and to employ theservices of nearly 100 young Navy scientists and engineers (S&E’s) who, in 27 schools and 5states, work side-by-side the teachers in the classroom as facilitators, mentors, and role models.The focus of the activity remains on the 5 school systems which surround the Naval SurfaceWarfare Center (NSWC) in Dahlgren, VA, but in the seven years of its existence it has expandedto involve the Naval Sea Warfare Centers in Dam Neck, VA, Indian Head, MD, andPhiladelphia, PA. In addition there are elements of the VDP at the Space and Naval WarfareSystems Command in Charleston, SC, and at the Air Force Research Laboratory InformationDirectorate in Rome, NY.Through the use of a variety of hands-on learning modules and the integration of Navy S&E asscience and math co-teachers in the classroom and in its one-week summer programs, the VDPhas been successful in making the connections between what happens in the classroom andactual careers, in providing information on careers in science and engineering in a real-lifeauthentic setting, and in providing the students’ career gatekeepers (teachers, parents, andcounselors) with the information needed to communicate accurately about STEM courses,programs, and career options.A strong component of the VDP is the assessment of its activities along the dimensions of itsmission which are to enhance interest in STEM among the middle school students it serves andto strengthen support for this goal among the students’ peers, family, and school. The purpose ofthe assessment process is to: 1) evaluate the impact of efforts undertaken to encourage studentsto pursue STEM careers, 2) evaluate changes in attitudes, awareness, and knowledge of STEMand STEM careers as a result of these efforts, and 3) develop and refine the tools necessary tomake these determinations. In the paper, separate results will be presented for the in-class andsummer camp implementations of this program and will include results obtained from more than3000 students, 130 teachers, and 45 S&E who participated in the in-class and summer campprograms in 2009-10.Some sample results from the summer program are indicated in the figure that show the impactof the program on the students’ conversations with their parents about their career intentions,indicate the students’ pre/post increase in knowledge of and interest in pursuing a career inscience and engineering, and illustrate the students’ increased level of understanding of thepathways to a STEM career. To increase the insights gained from the assessment, to guide the further development of the program, and to validate the results of this study, efforts are underway to use the data from these surveys to explore the relationships between the variables measured and to examine the connection between the results obtained and the student demographics.

Joseph, J. D., & Taylor, J., & Hardinge, G. B., & Brown, E. F. (2011, June), The Virginia Demonstration Project: A Summative Assessment Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18777

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