Engineering in Practice for a Sustainable Future

Track 2, GK-12 – Engineering in Practice for a Sustainable Future

PI/CoPIs: Drs. Teri Reed Rhoads, Mark A. Nanny, Mary John O’Hair, Susan E. Walden, Teri J. Murphy
Number of Fellows per Year (Grad/Project Year): 5/1; 5/2; 5/3; 5/4; 5/5
Number of K-12 Classes Served/Year: approx. 80 depending on # of classes taught by each teacher
Number of K-12 Teachers Working with Fellows: 5 directly per academic year and 12 each summer
School District Partners: Dibble, Newcastle, and Wanette School Districts
Target Audience: Secondary rural schools with high Native American population and urban schools
Setting: Rural (academic year) and urban (summer)
NSF Supported Disciplines Involved: Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Mathematics, and Physics

The Engineering in Practice for a Sustainable Future (EiP) renewal grant builds upon lessons learned in two Track 1 GK-12 grants: The Authentic Teaching Alliance (ATA) (DGE-0086415) and Adventure Engineering (AE) (DGE-0086457). Significant outcomes from the prior work include the implementation of a dual degree program in engineering education, that over 50% of the undergraduate Fellows were accepted into STEM graduate programs, four external competitive grants awarded to ATA teachers and Fellows, and improvements in Fellows’ communication and teaching skills and confidence. Benefits of this project for all participants will come directly from the following EiP goals:

Goal 1. Building on Success: Integrating and expanding ATA, AE, SeeS, and K20 Center. ATA and AE combined to partner almost 80 Fellows with middle and high school science and mathematics teachers. Over 100 authentic learning, inquiry-based activities were developed, implemented, and assessed; many are available at the respective websites. As previously proven, graduate Fellows will derive improved communication and teaching skills and confidence. Sooner Elementary Engineering and Science club (SeeS) uses a mixture of original and available hands-on physical science, mathematics, and engineering activities and STEM student volunteers to reach out to K-5 students. Although individually these activities and modules are demonstrably effective in teaching fundamental science and mathematics, more significant classroom impact will result from coherent usage of integrated units expanded with Authentic Applications utilizing the Engineering Method.

Goal 2. Summer Engineering Academies (SEA).
SEA provide a venue for disseminating authentic science and mathematics activities to regional students while providing STEM professional development for participating teachers. In addition, they provide Fellows with a unique opportunity to fine-tune and assess their best activities and teach them to both teachers and students.

Goal 3. Preparing Future Faculty.
In collaboration, the Colleges of Engineering and Education, along with the Graduate College, have proposed a dual STEM-education degree for graduates. The goal is to provide a sustainable, formal route for university students interested in learning, developing and practicing teaching skills to enhance their future STEM careers. This curriculum will be open to all STEM students across campus.

Additional benefits to K-12 districts and higher education participants will result from improved K-12 student preparation for high-stakes testing and college matriculation and success. The intellectual merit of this proposal is the examination of sustainability and transferability of programs providing Fellows with enhanced educational experiences. Sustainability and transferability are achieved by integrating the curricula from two Track 1 projects. Likewise the Preparing Future Faculty curriculum, by formally engaging STEM students interested in the educational arena, offers long-term commitments of Fellows and university-school partnerships.

The broader impacts of this proposal relate to the dissemination of STEM activities to K-12 students in rural districts with high Native American populations through the Fellow-teacher partnerships during the academic year and students in urban districts through SEA. The K20Center brings schools with documented commitment to STEM educational reform and technology integration into the partnerships. Overall, this grant will foster sustained partnerships bringing authentic engineering, science, and mathematics into the foreground for forgotten classrooms.