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Undergraduate Involvement In Developing K 12 Hands On Activities

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Engineering Collaboration: Faculty & Student in K-12 Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1294.1 - 15.1294.15



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Paper Authors

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Robert Edwards Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

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Kathryn Holliday-Darr Pennsylvania State University-Erie, The Behrend College

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Melanie Ford Pennsylvania State University, Erie

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

Undergraduate Involvement in Developing K-12 Hands-On Activities


The School of Engineering takes a very active role in the K-12 outreach programs at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College (PSB). The school participates in several formal on-campus programs. Additionally, many faculty members go to local schools to work with students in their classrooms. The focus of the engineering outreach efforts is on hands-on activities. Many such activities are commercially available, and some of those are used at PSB, but most of the activities that are used are developed by individual faculty members in their particular areas of expertise. These include such activities as simple motors, bridge building, wind power, and many more.

As part of the effort to design these hands-on activities, an independent study course was offered in the spring of 2009 for Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) students as a technical elective. The objective of the course was to design, build and test four hands-on activities to be used as part of the school’s K-12 outreach programs. Eight students signed up for the course. They were split into four teams of two students each working on separate projects. The general topics were pulley systems, vibrations, alternative energy and thermoelectric devices. Some of the projects were more successful than others, as might be expected. The overall outcome was a success and resulted in several hands-on activities that have been used for students in grades 1- 12.

This paper begins with a brief overview of the outreach programs in the School of Engineering. The main topic of the paper is the independent study course. The course goals and general project requirements are included. Each of the four projects are discussed with an emphasis on the project goals, activities that were developed, success levels, and ongoing efforts to improve the activities that resulted from the course. The paper also includes a brief discussion of the implementations of the activities to date.


The National Science Board has predicted that the growth in demand for workers in science and engineering occupations will grow at twice the rate for all occupations over the next five years1. This does not even include other related fields which also attract many graduates from science and engineering programs. The National Center for Education Statistics projects a growth in overall undergraduate enrollment over the same time period to be about half of the rate of the demand for workers2. With this kind of demand, colleges and universities across the nation are looking at ways to increase enrollments in these fields. It all starts with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) outreach programs for K-12 students. It is important to build interest among students toward STEM disciplines so they will consider a higher education in those fields. The University of Texas, for example, has implemented their AIM project designed to help public schools with engineering and science training3. Iowa State University4 has developed an educational outreach center with several goals, including developing “learner- centered, hands-on, engineering activities with K-12 students”. Ryerson University in Toronto5

Edwards, R., & Holliday-Darr, K., & Ford, M. (2010, June), Undergraduate Involvement In Developing K 12 Hands On Activities Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16728

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