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Introducing Middle School Students to Engineering Principles and the Engineering Design Process through an Academic Summer Program

Abstract

"Forty-seven 5th, 6th and 7th grade students from traditionally underserved and typically underrepresented populations participated in a two-week residential engineering program, The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at New Jersey Institute of Technology during the summer of 2015. Working in small cooperative groups, students were introduced to the Engineering Design Process, taught how to apply the process in developing and testing a prototype and received instruction in how to keep an engineering logbook. Results of evaluations indicate that, in addition to significant increases in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics content knowledge, students showed significant increases in their attitudes toward science, mathematics and engineering and demonstrated increased knowledge about careers in engineering and an understanding of the engineering design process at the conclusion of the program. A rubric has been developed to evaluate students' understanding and application of the engineering design process. Correlations among students' responses to content knowledge pre/post tests and the rubric have been found. The Draw an Engineer Test was also used as a more qualitative assessment of what students think engineers actually do and to capture cognitive changes in their perceptions of engineers as a result of attending the camp."

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