Asee peer logo

Tracking Middle School Perceptions Of Engineering During An Inquiry Based Engineering Science And Design Curriculum

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Engineering in the Middle Grades

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1273.1 - 15.1273.22



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Jade Mitchell-Blackwood Drexel University


Manuel Figueroa Drexel University

visit author page

Manuel Figueroa is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems at Drexel University with a research focus on the fabrication of surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrates for the detection of biological molecules. His interests include helping to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the STEM fields as well as exposing students to nanotechnology for medical applications. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Tulane University. Manuel is a 2008-2010 NSF GK-12 Fellow and was previously a LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellow. He is also a current member of the AAAS, ASEE, and SPIE.

visit author page


Chatchai Kokar Drexel University

visit author page

Chatchai Kokar received his B.A. degree in Biological Science in 2009 from Drexel University. Upon graduating, Chatchai spent a year working as a lab assistant in the Biomedical Engineering Department, where he conducted research on the optical properties of nanoparticles for fabricating surface enhanced Raman scattering substrates. Starting August 2010, Chatchai will be attending St. George's University School of Medicine where he plans to earn his M.D.

visit author page


Adam Fontecchio Drexel University

visit author page

Dr. Adam Fontecchio is an Associate Professor and Assistant Department Head in the Drexel University Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, and an Associate Dean of the College of Engineering, Co-Director of the A. J. Drexel Nanotechnology Institute, an affiliated member of the Materials Engineering Department, a member of the Center for Educational Research, and his research focuses on the area of nanophotonics. He is the recipient of a NASA New Investigator Award, the Drexel Graduate Student Association Outstanding Mentor Award, the Drexel University ECE Outstanding Research Achievement Award and the International Liquid Crystal Society Multimedia Prize. In 2003, he received a NASA/ASEE Summer Faculty Fellowship to research NEMS/MEMS adaptive optics in the Microdevices Laboratory at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

visit author page

author page

Eli Fromm Drexel University

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Tracking Middle School Perceptions of Engineering during an Inquiry Based Engineering Science and Design Curriculum


As the United States tries to remain technologically competitive with other nations the demand for engineering professionals is -12 engineering outreach programs have been incorporated into middle schools either through high tech electives or in tandem with the State prescribed math and science curriculum with the intent of fostering student interest in science and engineering. In spite of both approaches the ratio of science and engineering degrees awarded annually to the college aged population in the U.S. is less than in other countries. Furthermore, the number of underrepresented minorities earning those degrees is 12% according to the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc.

Some K-12 programs focus on mutual concepts that appear in both engineering and the physical sciences (engineering science) rather than design and problem solving (engineering design). It is no coincidence then that middle school students do not know what engineers are or what they do in practice. Hence, they do not choose engineering as a possible career choice. While the former has its merits with regard to enriching math and science education for students, the later is necessary for a true understanding of engineering as a profession. Here we examine changes in ideas about engineering after receiving instruction using both approaches - a science curriculum with integrated engineering concepts and applications; and through an engineering design and technology curriculum. Similar trends were observed in both groups.

Specifically, we examine the responses from a 5th grade science class and both 6th and 8th grade robotics classes, who participated in the National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored GK-12 Program with Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. In each class, a doctoral candidate in an engineering discipline developed and delivered lessons and activities along with the teacher. Fellows were responsible for designing inquiry-based lessons to enhance the understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts with the purpose of inspiring students to eventually pursue engineering disciplines. In the 5th grade class lessons and experiments were geared toward strengthening the understanding of the science curriculum, using engineering as a contextual vehicle for greater understanding. In the 6th and 8th grade class activities were based on engineering design with a focus on the physical sciences.

Both classes completed two surveys at the beginning and at the end of the 2008-2009 school year an open-ended survey about engineering and a closed-ended survey about attitudes toward math and science. Survey responses at the beginning of the school year revealed that overwhelmingly students defined identify specific tasks or problems solved by engineers or any of the technological tools that engineers use. Students did not personally know an engineer and could not identify more than one type of engineer. We present how the attitudes toward math, science and engineering changed over the course of the year between the two classes. We also discuss ways to design a better engineering curriculum at the middle school level based on our experiences.

Mitchell-Blackwood, J., & Figueroa, M., & Kokar, C., & Fontecchio, A., & Fromm, E. (2010, June), Tracking Middle School Perceptions Of Engineering During An Inquiry Based Engineering Science And Design Curriculum Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15965

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015