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Using Human-Centered Design to Drive Project-Based Learning in a High School Summer STEM Course (Evaluation)

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Design Process Activities with Secondary Students

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Austin C. Wong The Cooper Union

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Austin Wong is a graduate of Cooper Union with a BA and MA in Mechanical Engineering. The research he is doing pertains to the advancement of STEM education with the help of rapid prototyping at a high school and college level. He is a high school STEM teacher at Grace Church High School, and developed curriculum for the high school physics, robotics, CAD, and engineering classes he teaches and is also the director of the Design Lab at Grace Church School. He also instructs high school STEM outreach programs at Cooper where students invent and build new products and ideas in a Makerspace setting. He often works with laser cutting, 3D CAD, and 3D printing to aid college and high school students design and prototype their projects.

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George J. Delagrammatikas The Cooper Union

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Prof George J. Delagrammatikas is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. He is the Director of STEM Outreach which is comprised of four programs that immerse K12 students in hands-on, authentic engineering design experiences (

George has also been an instructor in this program since 2006, mentoring students as they design, analyze, build, and test solutions to engineering problems they pose. He teaches undergraduate design, thermodynamics, and engineering experimentation and is the faculty adviser to both the Formula SAE Team (Cooper Motorsports) and Pi Tau Sigma Honor Society.

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Elizabeth M. Waters The Cooper Union Orcid 16x16

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Elizabeth Waters is the Associate Director of STEM Outreach at The Cooper Union where she develops educator training and evaluation strategies for programs serving high school and college students. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Oregon Health and Sciences University and specializes in the effects of hormones on learning, memory and mood disorders.

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This paper presents a case study describing improvements made to an existing makerspace high school summer outreach course, by using survey data to evaluate the effectiveness of adding Human Centered Design (HCD) into a project-based inventorship curriculum. An existing high school summer Makerspace course was adapted to emphasize HCD as a driving force for real-world engineering educational experiences for students. Makerspace students were enrolled for 120 hours over six weeks, where they learned about design and prototyping through workshops and a creative invention process. Teams of three to four students identified a problem statement, created a working prototype, collected user feedback, and refined their invention to achieve a minimum viable product. Student teams used HCD and customer validation in order to develop a product with specific customers in mind and acquired feedback by interviewing users. The teaching team used a combination of inquiry, problem, and project-based learning pedagogies to reinforce student learning, often on a case-by-case basis in order to meet the demands of each project. The Makerspace was one of ten sections in the overall summer STEM program and concluded with demonstrations and a formal presentation to all other sections of the program. Entry and exit surveys were administered to the students to collect their demographic information, self-assessments of their skills and interest in engineering. The effectiveness of the Makerspace teaching model to the spur student learning of engineering skills was validated by student growth and confidence in manufacturing, electronics, entrepreneurship, and design skills.

Wong, A. C., & Delagrammatikas, G. J., & Waters, E. M. (2019, June), Using Human-Centered Design to Drive Project-Based Learning in a High School Summer STEM Course (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33504

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