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WIP: Pilot Evaluation of a Summer Camp to Attract Middle School Students to 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 6

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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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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Trinity Borland Wartburg College

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Ripken Gehrig Holst Wartburg College


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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This work in progress paper describes the organization and execution of a summer engineering camp designed to increase the interest and motivation of middle school students to go into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. This camp is part of a seven year grant funded by the Department of Education as part of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEARUP) program. The grant’s overall goal is to help more than 3,000 middle and high school students be more ready for college. This engineering summer camp targets 6 to 12th grade underrepresented students and science teachers. The camp discussed here is one component of the GEAR UP program.

The engineering camp included hands-on field-based engineering experiences, and fieldwork focusing on mechanical and electrical engineering. Some of the activities included building various engineering-related objects such as paper speakers, magnetic cannons, friction bridges, rockets and CO2 cars and then launching them. The students and teachers spent a week preforming real engineering research investigation in collaboration with engineering research faculty from a local university.

Results showed a very high overall satisfaction with the camp activities by the students. The survey results also show the success of the camp and clearly shows student appreciation of learning using hands-on experiences rather than passive ones such as lectures. This aligns with constructivist theories on education where student-centered learning is shown to be more effective. This camp was the first of many similar summer camps to take place over the duration of the project.

Data collection for future camps will involve student interest and parent perceptions about STEM. However, the pilot year focused on ensuring the smooth execution of the camp as well as student satisfaction with the activities presented and the learning outcomes.

Mahmoud, M. M., & Borland, T., & Holst, R. G., & Becker, K. H. (2020, June), WIP: Pilot Evaluation of a Summer Camp to Attract Middle School Students to STEM Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35564

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