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Work in Progress: Development and Evaluation of Self-Contained, Shippable Outreach Experiments for Online Implementation in K-12 Classrooms

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Endeavors: Engineering, Art and Society

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Joseph Churchill Tapia II University of Kentucky


Danielle Nicole Dutton University of Kentucky

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Danielle Dutton joined the F. Joseph Halcomb III, MD Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Kentucky in 2019. She is currently a junior majoring in Biomedical Engineering and minoring in Neuroscience. In addition to researching engineering education, she has also researched noninvasive medical imaging techniques to monitor the progression and success of treatment of cancer without the need for invasive biopsy.

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Ronald Justin Vogler University of Kentucky Orcid 16x16

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Ronald J. (RJ) Vogler joined the University of Kentucky Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering as an undergraduate student in 2017 and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 2021. Outside of engineering education, his research work has included the development of polymer membranes for applications such as ion exchange, the adsorption of heavy-metal ions, and the separation of nucleobases (a class of organic compounds).

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Evan Yang University of Kentucky

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Evan F. Yang joined the University of Kentucky as an undergraduate student in 2015 and is a senior majoring in Computer Science and Biology. Outside of engineering education, he is involved with bioinformatics research where he is developing systems for robust mapping of telomeres from next-generation sequencing data and is actively engaged in service projects within his campus community and abroad.

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Sarah A. Wilson University of Kentucky

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Sarah Wilson is a lecturer in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Kentucky. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Rowan University in New Jersey before attending graduate school for her PhD at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. Her research interests include engineering communication, process safety, and undergraduate student mental health. Recently, she was awarded an NSF RIEF grant to student mental health-related help-seeking in undergraduate engineering students. She is completing this project in collaboration with faculty members from educational and counseling psychology. With this work, they aim to better understand the help-seeking beliefs of undergraduate engineering students and develop interventions to improve mental health-related help-seeking. Other research interests include engineering communication and integration of process safety into a unit operations course.

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Due to COVID-19, more students are transitioning to online classrooms. This poses a problem for STEM educators as students are limited in their ability to learn about the scientific process or scientific thinking through hands-on experimentation. Additionally, outreach programs that are designed to increase interest and participation in STEM face a challenge of not being able to enter the physical classroom for activities. To address these needs, a program was developed to create self-contained experimental kits that could be shipped to students’ homes. This allows students to gain the same outreach experience that they might have had in the classroom without leaving the safety of their home. Additionally, it removes the burden on parents of having to purchase outreach materials. The contents of the kits were designed with the following constraints: 1) experiments must be easy to complete with minimal instructions, 2) there must be a limited mess and 3) they must be easily and inexpensively shipped. With these constraints, four experiments were developed: analyzing the pH of household acids and bases using a red cabbage indicator (chemical engineering), building a popsicle-stick bridge (civil engineering), creating a drinking-straw prosthetic hand (biomedical engineering), and assembling an automatic LED night light (electrical engineering). The instructional guides to the kits include background information about the STEM topic, methods for completing the experiment, tables for data collection, and/or analysis questions about the data. To ensure the clarity of the instructions, recommendations were taken from a non-target audience to refine the materials. The kits were piloted on college-aged peers who have varying degrees of expertise in the subjects. Peers were asked to assess the clarity of the activity, provide feedback on the quality of the experiment, and complete questions for the pretest and posttest on the topic matter covered in the instructional guides. Results from this study will be used to refine the outreach kits prior to implementation with K-12 students. While originally designed to address the limitations in place due to COVID-19, this project can expand the outreach program to areas where in-person programs can be challenging. With considerate development, expansion to Appalachian regions can provide students with more exposure to STEM, while also allowing them to interact with engineering students from the University of Kentucky.

Tapia, J. C., & Dutton, D. N., & Vogler, R. J., & Yang, E., & Wilson, S. A. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Development and Evaluation of Self-Contained, Shippable Outreach Experiments for Online Implementation in K-12 Classrooms Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38141

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